What is Bespoke Software?
Bespoke software is a software application that is built to meet the needs of a specific user. The user defines precisely what the requirements are, and the developer builds the application to satisfy those requirements. A bespoke application should integrate with all existing applications and processes, and should be easy to extend and enhance as business requirements evolve. Using bespoke software, the software conforms to your processes; you don’t have to change your processes to conform to the software. The alternative to bespoke software is off-the-shelf software, which is a generic application, for example, Microsoft Word or Excel, and is intended for the mass market.
Why is it needed?
There are several reasons for selecting a bespoke solution. First, what you want is what you get. You specify the required functionality and the software is built to deliver it. Secondly, the bespoke software integrates into your current system, without the need for esoteric bridging or conversion processes, because it’s designed to do that. Finally, a bespoke system is more responsive to changes in your processes; you don’t wait, hoping that the off-the-shelf developers will at some point deliver the functionality you require. If it’s your software, you can implement the updates you need when you need them.
Here is a typical scenario. A business expanded rapidly, but different departments built their own applications, which are incompatible and do not integrate. If a customer buys one product from one department and something else from another, then the customers details have to be entered twice, because one department uses Excel and the other Access. It’s a problem when a customer lets you know of a change of address, but only one system is updated, and so invoices are still be sent to the old address. It’s frustrating for the customer and inefficient for the business.
To make matters worse, one system was maintained by a key member of staff, who has just left on maternity leave. You tried to recruit a replacement for her, but there are few candidates interested in working with legacy technologies such as Access.
The time has come to replace the old systems with a single application that uses the more robust and adaptable modern technology, and that is well documented and supported, and which will meet the needs of the business as a whole, rather than just one department.
Doing it right
At Calandra, we pride ourselves in building bespoke applications that perfectly satisfy the client’s requirements, and at an affordable price. We achieve this by taking the time to understand what our clients want to achieve. Time spent in reconnaissance is rarely wasted, and neither is time spent in understanding the user’s requirements.
We believe that, in bespoke software development, the key to success is close partnership with our clients. To this end, we schedule daily meetings between our developers and the client, preferably face-to-face. This gives the client the opportunity to comment on progress, to express a preference on what feature is built next, and to make whatever changes the client feels necessary.
At Calandra, working software is the measure of project progress. We deliver working software daily so that the client can see progress, and become familiar with the application as it develops. We recognise that it is impossible to define an application’s requirements exactly at the outset, and it is natural for the development process itself to uncover scenarios that were not originally obvious. For this reason, we expect the requirements to change and welcome it.