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When should your company go for a custom made IT system?

Endless possibilities and the continual growth of the IT products market mean new technologies and automation enthusiasts are in the seventh heaven, aren’t they? Not exactly. Choosing the right solution for your company is no small challenge. In this article, we give you answers to numerous burning questions: How to make the right choice among the huge number of IT systems on the market? Is a custom made system the best decision? What costs do you have to think about?

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IT systems for companies – what are you choosing from?

Every growing company pursuing its digital transformation needs IT solutions that automate and simplify many of its daily processes. But when the decision to create an IT system is made, the doubts and questions multiple. The choices include using an off-the-shelf SaaS, buying a license, going with open source software, or creating a custom made in-house solution. This is a key decision that will affect the future of the company and it shouldn’t be taken without the proper strategic analysis and cost estimation. Although the last option - a custom made IT system - often seems to be the best one, keep in mind that it will be our company's responsibility to develop the software and bear further costs associated with maintenance. That’s why it is vital to choose the best technology and the best implementation partner.

Is a custom made IT system the best path to follow?

Custom made solutions, despite their enormous advantages, aren’t always the right choice. You’ve got to be absolutely sure that this is what the company really needs. So how to do that? A lot depends on your adopted strategy – is the company a market leader, a contender for the title, an imitator, or maybe a niche player? An imitator takes a proven strategy and copies the solutions, playing “follow the leader”. If this describes you, go for tried and true measures that have a proven track record. Applying this kind of strategy, we’re often fighting for our position on the market with our prices, and we can’t afford to experiment with custom made software. It’s better to go for a well-known solution with a low TCO. Things are different if our company is a market leader or fighting for this title. These two types of companies are constantly competing against each other. The leader wants to keep its position and the contender is going for the gold. When we’re battling it out this way, it might be necessary to go for a custom made system that is better than our competitor's solutions. A market leader who uses SaaS software may quickly drop down the rankings when it suddenly turns out that half the competition is using the same solution. If our IT system is an element of our competitive advantage, then the loss of uniqueness may lead to us chasing the peloton. A unique system is also a good element in building barriers to market entry. Custom made solutions are also recommended for niche players - in this case, universal systems may turn out to be worthless, failing to meet our unique needs.

Create a custom made system or modify existing software?

When seeking IT solutions for our company, it might turn out that even the biggest producers don’t offer systems that meet our expectations. If this is the case, we have two options - modification of existing software or authoring a custom made system. Is it better to modify or to write a system from scratch? Let's look at the pluses and minuses of each option.

Which solution is financially more beneficial?

There are many reasons to consider creating a custom made system. One of them is costs. When it comes to an expansive, ready-made system, often we’re using only a fraction of its functionalities, but we’re still paying for the whole thing. If we go for a dedicated solution, we pay only for the elements we consider necessary. If our cost analysis indicates that a custom made system is the most financially sound option, we still have to consider maintenance costs. Many companies make the same mistake – they forget about the costs associated with maintenance and extension of the system, and unfortunately, when we’ve got a dedicated solution, those costs are ours to pay. In short, often creating a dedicated solution is the best choice, but we must keep all the consequences of this decision in mind.

There’s custom made, and there’s custom made

The proper implementation of a custom made solution is also crucial, especially in a world of millions of ready-made components supporting the work of developers. This is true whether they come in the form of open source components and frameworks, or cloud-based services facilitating application development, like AWS Lambda. Working with the right team, we can create a functionally custom made solution, but one that is also entirely repeatable at the level of elements used, themselves continually developing. We are responsible for the development of business logic, but the development of basic components consists in version upgrades and replacements, not writing everything from scratch. In each case, both functional and non-functional requirements are important.

Unity Group as your ideal digital transformation partner

Implementing the perfect IT system is as difficult as choosing one. The decision is by no means an obvious thing and many factors come into play, so the best solution is to get the help of a digital transformation partner. A company that will advise and consult, clear up uncertainties, and assist in designing. This partner is Unity Group, a company that cares for the security of your business by employing popular and supported frameworks and components. Our approach allows maximum cost optimization of every project we execute. The Unity Group delivers a comprehensive approach comprehensively from analysis through design to implementation, choosing only proven and optimal solutions. If you’re interested in the subject of custom made IT systems and want to learn more about the services associated with them, have a look at our offers for application architecture and software development. You can also read this article in the May edition of BrandsIT – https://brandsit.pl/magazyn/.

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