“There’s an app for that.”
This slogan is the “Where’s the beef?” of our time – a marketing slogan so ubiquitous that it’s all over popular culture. There’s a lot of truth to this statement, whether you’re implementing a collaboration tool for your team or managing your supply chain; there is probably a technology out there to help you get started. With all these solutions already in place, why would we ever “reinvent the wheel” with custom software? It’s time-consuming, expensive, and high-maintenance compared off the shelf software, right?
As you may have guessed, the answer is “it depends.” Crafting your own technology masterpiece is certainly a lofty objective, but there are times it’s the best path forward. This month, I will introduce three ways you can create your own custom technology without breaking the bank.
The simplest path forward is to simply purchase off-the-shelf software and customize it to your needs. This is an affordable solution that will works in areas such as bookkeeping and project management. You start with a system that’s already operational, customize it with your personal data, and you’re off. These solutions are easy to get started with and require little professional help, but keep in mind that if and when you outgrow the box you have put yourself in, it may be painful and expensive to grow into something else.
A second option when building custom tech is to integrate multiple systems together and get them “talking” to each other without investing in a single system that does everything you need. In my business, we use at least three tools while building a new website or mobile app for a client. All of these systems are components I wouldn’t dream of creating, and integration tools have been developed that allow the tools to work together in a manner that’s seamless for our team. This path may require professional help to get things started and keep them humming. Choose well-known tools and keep an eye out signs of possible pitfalls, as you don’t want your seamless integration turning into a nightmare when one system decides it’s no longer in their best interest to work with another.
Coding From Scratch
The time may come when no pre-built technology system meets your needs. This could arise from your need to have a system designed specifically around the way your business works, or there could be a deal-breaker component that just doesn’t exist. While the up-front investment of custom software, websites, and apps may be daunting, it is often worth it when you consider that this software will make or break your business. Tread carefully when choosing a provider to help you explore your needs and bring them to life, and keep in mind that you’re investing in the long haul, not just a few months of intense development.
There are a number of ways reach the goal of a custom technology solution. In the future, we’ll dive deeper into these option as you consider the best way to make technology one of the greatest assets of your business.
For publication in the Business Leader
By Chet Cromer