Systems Integration for E&P
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Looking for custom software development services?
Whether you are an innovator eager to build something amazing & new or an IT leader responsible for modernizing an aging application, our custom software development experts can help.
We love to code. As our team has evolved over the past 12 years, as we’ve changed faces and offices, the one constant has been the presence of a robust software development practice.
If a commercially available product exists that already does exactly what you need it to do, it will almost always be less expensive to purchase that product then to develop something from scratch. Our clients make use of our custom software and mobile app development services when commercially available software products don’t meet their unique business needs.
Think about your business. What do you tell people when they ask, “what makes you different”? In some industries, you can make a living following common practices and doing things pretty much the same as everyone else, but sustained above-average performance comes from doing things differently in a way that your customers find valuable.
The problem with commercially available Software as a Service (SaaS) or off-the-shelf (OTS) offerings is that they are (by definition) available to everyone, meaning they can’t support a differentiated business model without at least some customization. The more general the piece of software, or the more differentiated the business model, the more customization will be needed.
Eventually, you reach a point where a widely-available piece of software just won’t cut it, and you have to either build something from scratch, combine some custom code with standard services, or extend a platform by building a custom app on top of it.
Getting systems to talk to one another is critical if you want to do things like automate a business process end to end or establish systems of record for your key data that other systems draw from.
While integrations are on the market for many popular systems, especially cloud-based tools, you sometimes run across systems for which there is not an integration either built-in or available for purchase. This problem is compounded when you have an ecosystem of software all needing to communicate. In these cases, custom software can be used to bridge the gap and get all the systems playing nicely.
There are several ways to go about getting your custom software developed. As consultants, we may be a little biased about which way is best, but the truth is that it’s not always the best decision to engage a consultancy to get the work done. Here are some common service structures with pros and cons for each.
Today, people expect easy access to the data they need to do their job and the ability to quickly interact with vendors on their terms in a self-service environment. Customer portals deliver on all of these points and keep you on the leading edge in your industry.
Custom Software Development Consultancies like Entrance bring together top-notch professionals to take on projects for clients. The nice thing about this model is that you reliably get experts that are good with people, not just computers. Since we work as a group, you don’t have to worry about a custom software project grinding to a halt if someone gets sick. We can get things done very quickly, and if there’s a technical challenge we can turn to the experts in the organization for help.
The downside of using a custom software development consultancy is that it can be overkill. We employ the best and thrive on solving really tough challenges. If you have a mundane problem and just need a body to execute on an already-defined plan, hiring someone like us will cost way more than you need to pay. In this case, you’re better off with a freelancer or a contractor.
Freelancers usually work alone either as their full-time gig or as a second job. They vary in expertise, which can make it tough to separate the bad from the good, but online freelance marketplaces often show ratings to help buyers judge the skills of the candidate.
Freelance custom software developers are good for smaller jobs that can be taken on by one person, especially if that job requires specialized expertise. If they need help with a technical problem, they can typically turn to their network for assistance. Oftentimes, a portion of the payment for the job is withheld until after the work is delivered, so the risk to the buyer of the freelancer not completing the work is lessened.
Firms in this category recruit custom software development professionals and then hire them out to buyers, typically in staff augmentation arrangements. They are essentially a broker, bringing together personnel and employers and charging a fee for every hour worked.
Contractors are good for well-defined jobs where you don’t mind providing supervision and direction. You are paying for their time like you would a regular employee, and they will need direction just like a regular employee would. If this is what you’re looking for, this route is usually the least expensive of the three.
The downside of this arrangement is that the contractors may spend most of their time onsite with clients, and may not have deep connections with others at their firm or with independent technical experts. This means that, if they run into trouble, they may not have someone they can quickly turn to.
Another downside is that custom software development contractors, depending on their experience, typically have an employee mindset, meaning they do what they are told to the best of their abilities. Unlike consultants or freelancers, they may not be looking out for the overall wellbeing of the project.
We follow a standard process for custom software development. It’s an adaptation of the Microsoft Solutions Framework that
incorporates Scrum into the Build portion of the framework.
Build vs. Buy
Although we’re working all the time to drive down the costs, we have no problem admitting that enterprise-grade custom software development can be a big investment. That is why, before committing to developing something from scratch, we always make sure that our clients have a good handle on what business value the project is intended to deliver. This helps establish the maximum investment that should be made, and prevents you from moving forward with an ill-advised project.
It’s possible that custom software development is not the way to go, so a Build vs. Buy assessment should be conducted. Our clients often get us involved at this stage in the process, as we have experience performing these types of assessments.
Envision & Plan
We usually split our custom software development projects into two parts, of which Envision and Plan (E&P) is the first part.
During the E&P phase, we lay out the high-level features to be developed, the business value that will be delivered, the architectural design, and the plan for the upcoming build phase.
The deliverables for this phase are the Vision and Scope document, which contains the elements described above as well as a prioritized product backlog, which is just a list of work to be performed during the build phase.
Build, Stabilize & Deploy
During this phase, the team turns the Vision and Scope document into working software. We take an agile approach, demonstrating working software to you every two weeks, and allowing you to re-prioritize the remaining scope so that we are always working on the most valuable feature.
It’s up to you if you would like our team to handle things like training and documentation, or if you would like to have your employees handle some of this work. We are more than happy to do this for you, but our clients often take this on to reduce the cost of the project.
All software needs a certain amount of maintenance to address small tweaks that users want, corner-case bugs that were not identified during testing, and upgrades necessary to allow the software to play nicely with other systems.
For this reason, we always work with our clients to estimate the amount of maintenance time that will be needed and put in place a support contract. We offer low-cost retainer packages that allow us to respond quickly to maintenance events and even use the leftover hours for system enhancements.
Custom software is where software is created specifically for an organization’s needs. It helps prioritize the specific issues they’re faced with and often provides a more specialized and effective solution that’s flexible to changing needs.
While most businesses rely heavily on standardized, off-the-shelf software to handle a variety of operations (known as line of business or LoB applications), when an organization needs software that isn’t readily available, they’ll turn to custom software development services to develop a tool that’s tailored to their unique requirements.
Alternately, organizations may want to create and deploy a client-facing tool for either desktop or mobile, one that delivers a customer experience unique to that business. Or, the business model itself may center around the sales of the particular application, and they’ll need a particular software engineering skillset to design and create it.
In recent years, organizations have increasingly chosen to create custom software that is unique to their needs.
A study by IDC found that the average cost for custom development work was $176,000, but the average return on investment for those projects was $4 million. And in 2022, with the rise in the use of Kubernetes-led container technology to facilitate computing platforms, over 62% of financial services and telecommunications companies are investing heavily in developing their own proprietary applications.
Custom software is developed to fulfill the unique needs of a business. It could be a mobile application, enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, industry-specific, or a cloud-based application, to name a few.
These applications do just one thing, and they do it well. Examples include payroll management, inventory control, and customer relationship management (CRM) systems.
These are more sophisticated, but they still fit within a single overall category. Some examples include accounting and employee scheduling systems.
These combine features from both single-purpose and multipurpose applications. They may have basic features for a variety of purposes or highly sophisticated features for one purpose that works in conjunction with other software programs.
Many industries have unique regulatory, logistical, or operational requirements that govern how they’ll operate. Because of this, it’s often more efficient for say, an engineering or construction firm to have software developed from the ground up that is able to handle their particular workflows. For that reason, the developer will usually have extensive experience within the industry and will apply that knowledge when creating the application(s).
While most organizations are online 24/7, there may be times when data needs to be able to synchronize seamlessly when an internet connection isn’t available. To that end, offline data synchronization is a growing area of need, with businesses wanting to ensure that data and reporting are always up-to-date.
More and more businesses are opting to use cloud-based environments, which is why cloud-based apps are growing exponentially. These are typically designed to work with cloud frameworks such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure.
Some other examples of areas where custom software is commonly used include:
There are many reasons why a business might want to develop custom software. Here are the most common:
Custom software development is a highly technical process, with a wide array of variables affecting the cost. Some of the primary factors that will influence the cost of custom software development include:
Typically, custom software development costs can range anywhere from a low of $30,000 to $40,000 with an upper limit in the hundreds of thousands depending on the scope of the project.
Custom software development is the process of designing, writing, testing, and debugging applications. It is highly flexible and separated into various iterative methodologies such as Agile or Waterfall. Development is a collaborative process in which the customer and the custom software development team work together throughout the project lifecycle.
The method that works best for your project depends on the size of the team, the available schedule, and whether you’re building a new application from scratch or customizing an existing one.
The process of custom software development at Entrance follows several stages: Envision, Plan, Build, Stabilize, Deploy
A project starts with defining the client’s needs. This stage involves gathering requirements, business analysis, and technical analysis to create the first draft of a product specification document.
Once the specification document has been approved by the client, it is used as the blueprint for creating a working prototype. The product owner and developers work together to create a feature-complete, but non-functional application.
Once all features are developed and tested, they are integrated into a full application that can be evaluated by the client. At this stage, all issues should be fixed and corrected before moving on to the next phase of testing.
This stage includes packaging and delivering of application to clients, training users on its usage, support for users, bug fixes, and maintenance updates.
It’s critically important to consider the following factors when deciding which type of software is best suited for your business:
Businesses that are looking for custom software development services can choose several avenues. Hiring a dedicated in-house developer is an excellent option for businesses that are looking for high-end software solutions with great functionality, and don’t have the time or resources to manage the project in a hands-on fashion.
Alternatively, going with an in-house team can allow businesses to control every aspect of the process, from design to development. While it’s a much more hands-on approach, if the right personnel are in place and it’s a well-managed project, it can ultimately, save money.
However, hiring an in-house team may not be a viable option depending on the size and complexity of the project. As such, outsourcing custom software development work might be a better option for most businesses. The cost savings associated with outsourcing coupled with the ease of use and control that comes with having an external team handle all aspects of the project could be a win-win
At the end of the day, custom software development is not for every business. There’s much to consider before deciding to choose a tailored software solution versus an off-the-shelf application. However, if your business is constrained by industry-specific requirements, hardware limitations, or requires a specialized set of functions, a custom software solution from Entrance Consulting may be the way route to choose.
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