The Lone Programmer has been developing custom business programs for more than seventeen years. Over that time we have discovered what makes a great custom app and what mistakes can be avoided by carefully selecting the programmer and clearly defining your objectives of the program.

If you are one of the luck ones that got a marketing letter from me then you have seen a bullet list of what to think about when making a custom application. If you didn’t get a marketing letter from me, you can call me at 336.289.9038 and or email me at emurphy@theloneprogrammer.com. Ask for Ed and about custom software applications for your business.

I suggest to each propective client that before spending money on a custom application, they first research existing off the shelf software. If one is available, this can provide less expensive solution. If one does not exist, The Lone Progammer, Inc. can develop a cost effective custom program for you.

But back to the list, what makes a great software application and what your business should look for when creating a custom application

  • A custom application must provide a real solution to a problem that your business has. The goals must be clearly defined and measurable.
  • Be simple to use

    Your custom software should not only be simple to use but must be an easier and better alternative to whatever your process is now.

  • Increase efficiency and profitability

    All software is suppose to make your life easier, to make your employees and your business more efficient and increase profit margin.

  • Provide key information in a timely manner

    Business today is done at light speeds and your apps need to process your data in a timely manner so that you can keep up with the competition. The better the information/more complete the information is, the easier it is to make good decisions.

  • Meet your budget requirements

    Most importantly, your app should be affordable and the company that you chose to do your custom app should be willing to work with you to insure that you can get something that meets your budget.

Finally, here are some common mistakes.

  • Hiring an offshore company

    The old adage that you get what you pay for holds very true when finding someone to do custom software applications. Your expertise is in your business not in software development. Contending with time zones and language barriers makes find a workable solution more difficult.

    Having to communicate with a technical person in your own town is hard enough.Now think about if you are on opposite sides of the globe speaking different languages.

    It is also very hard to vet a foreign company much less hold them accountable if something isn't right.

  • Only contacting one company

    You would not get your car fixed or replace the roof on your house without getting at least two estimates, why would you hire someone to do important work for your company without getting a few estimates?

  • Not getting your IT people’s opinions

    If you have IT people working for you, even if they are not programmers, you should get their opinions. A lot of account managers at software development companies will lay on a lot of B. S. to get the sale. Your IT people will be able to see through that better than you.

  • Spending the entire budget on the custom app

    Remember that there will probably be training needed to teach your employees how to use the new program.

    You also need to think about support and maybe even marketing and other similar expenses. Try to keep 5% - 15% of your budget for these things.

  • Assuming that you need Microsoft, IBM or some other large companies products

    When you go with a large company you are taking the chance of being locked into their eco system and risk paying out big bucks later to upgrade or leave their eco system. I knew of a company that was still using Windows XP on all of their computers in 2014 because their help-desk system required it. The upgrade was so expensive that the company decided to keep XP for years instead.

  • Getting everything that a software company has to give

    This one is going to get me a lot of angry emails. You may need a UI/UX designer, graphic designer, business analyst and all of the other titles associated with software development or maybe not. If you expect to make your program available to the general public then absolutely you need these people. If you only expect to have it available to your employees internally, then you probably don’t. Ask why you need all of these people and how it effects the price.

  • Believing everything that an account manager tells you

    The job of an account manager at a software development company is to get your business, i.e. account. They may get bonuses or commission for your business. This leads to some, just some, being less than honest. Talked to other users. If possible, a user that uses you’re your primary software. How difficult was it to integrate into your other software. How good was their technical support? How easy was it for your employees to learn. Did it do what it claimed. Did you need to spend additional money to make it work?

  • If you are spending six figures for a pre-built software solution, look at custom alternatives

    If you are wondering who spends so much for off the shelf software, it turns out to be a lot of companies. If you are being asked to pay more than $100K or something approaching $100K, get a custom software quote. You will probably be able to find a custom alternative for a lot cheaper.

If you want an estimate for custom business software, please contact me, Ed Murphy at 336.289.9038 or at emurphy@theloneprogrammer.com. I can get you an estimate for Windows Desktop, ASP .NET web and for any mobile platform or advice on what is best for your company.

© 2018 The Lone Programmer, Inc. All rights reserved.