Bespoke Software Problems
Bespoke software projects have driven many business plans to the grave. Bespoke projects like back-office systems, commercial software products, or mobile app developments can explode in scope, becoming overly complex and costly, and ultimately having a material effect on business performance.
Bespoke Software Offers Great Opportunities
Of course, bespoke software offers the opportunity to build genuine competitive advantage. When you can get precisely what you need, you help make your business unique and add value.
For example, our principals have helped clients help build software that radically alters how they work internally. This can massively reduce costs, improve cycle times or provide a huge lift to customer service.
Bespoke software often involves new technology. You can create software bots to reduce the burden on customer service. Machine learning can improve performance of everything from procurement to customer recommendation engines. Data analytics allows you to improve decision-making and delegate authority.
For some clients, our principals have helped create software that can be licensed, creating entirely new revenue streams, and differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace.
But Why Is It So Difficult?
For one reason, because you can have precisely what you want! Thus it can be difficult to limit the scope. This is compounded by the fact that software developers are sometimes poor communicators. They may not be good at explaining the issues to their non-technical clients.
Another issue is that the inherent complexity of bespoke software means that effort estimates often prove inaccurate — and developers may not grasp the commercial impact of these overruns.
Finally, even when bespoke software is delivered, that’s never the end. New requirements emerge, the team changes, technology moves on. And the quality of software is difficult to judge from the outside. Even after rigorous testing, design weaknesses may not be exposed for months or years.
Freeman Clarke Principals Understand Business and Software
Many of our principals are experts in software development for internal systems or commercial products. They can handle a wide range of responsibilities, from ensuring that the system strategy is clear to recruiting a team or development partner. They can oversee the architecture, the design decisions, the engineering practices, the testing, and the project management.
The Software Is Just Part of the Recipe
For internal systems, principals of course oversee user engagement, and changes to process and organization when necessary. For commercial products, they can take part in discussions about pricing, partnerships, and other market questions.