“What is it that you do?”
My family and I were recently invited to watch the NFL playoffs with some of the parents of my son’s classmates. In general this means that the parents attempt to watch football and carry on some form of adult conversation while eight pre-K children run around like maniacs destroying our host’s home. So there we were eight parents huddled around the center island when the organizer and host of the party turns to me and says… “I know you are a partner in your business but what is it that you do?”
I can’t say this is the first time I have been asked this question so I should have a good answer by now, but unfortunately I don’t. Regardless I rattled off my standard answer to the group and I can honestly say by the time I was done I don’t think one person had any better understanding of what custom software development is than before I began. The topic quickly changed and that was that.
This conversation got me thinking though… custom software development is not something the average person thinks about. Most people have probably never heard of it, don’t know it exists or what purpose it serves. And to be honest most people don’t need to know what it is, and most people can perform their job or run their business with off the shelf software packages, apps, or SAAS websites without ever needing anything more.
The issue is that for the other people or businesses out there that don’t fit into the off the shelf mold, knowing what custom software is could save you from the enormous headache that is your office IT environment. Unfortunately you have people like me giving generic, vague descriptions of the services we provide instead of giving you some insight as to how we can help. So I thought maybe I should approach the question from a different point of view. Perhaps instead of attempting to describe what we do perhaps I should describe the situations our potential clients might be in before we develop a solution for them:
- You have a “program” that you use to run your business but it doesn’t handle all of the unique facets of your business so you use 15 different Excel spreadsheets and a sloppy MS Access database your boss’ cousin designed to keep track of all of the “stuff” your main “program” doesn’t.
- Your boss is old school and he has run his business for years using paper or a ten year old version of Quickbooks, but business has grown and the old school systems are not cutting it anymore.
- You have always run a custom application but your business has evolved and the software has not evolved with it.
- You run 2, 3 or even 4 different software packages and they each do their specific job well but they don’t communicate with each other and your staff is extremely inefficient because of all the double and triple data entry, not to mention the occasional typo.
- Your office is drowning in paper, excel spreadsheets, etc. There is no real software so you have used these tools to piece together a system but it is no longer efficient.
- You have an application and it is does its job well. It is exactly what you need to run the day to day operations of your business, but its reporting systems are lacking. There are critical pieces of information that you need to analyze your business, and your software does not provide it.
- You have a unique business model or unique problem in your business and you have searched high and low for an off the shelf solution and none exists, or some exist but do not address the entire problem and will leave you piecing together documents and spreadsheets to try to develop a complete solution.
These are just a handful of the situations our clients were in when we met them. Some of them thought these obstacles were normal and thought there wasn’t a better way. Some knew there was be a better way but just didn’t know what it was or how to find it. For all of them, the solution was Custom Software Development and it has done wonders for their business, their efficiency, and their staff morale.
Custom software may not be for you, but if you are struggling in situations similar to those above give us a buzz and maybe we can help.