Custom Software Development: The Ultimate Guide

Custom Software Development: The Ultimate Guide

Have you considered having custom software developed for your business? In the current year, most organizations need custom applications to meet their market’s needs. In the past, this was seen as a luxury – something reserved for corporations with massive marketing budgets. Today, custom software development is affordable and can be tailored to meet any budget.

Why you might need custom software development

The overwhelming majority of customer and client interactions take place in the digital sphere, specifically on websites and through mobile apps. Custom software allows you to reach and interact with customers and clients in unique ways, giving you a competitive edge.

One of the most important uses is to identify your market’s needs, wants, and pain points, all of which help you craft a more effective marketing strategy and predict future demand.

Keep reading because by the end of this article, you’ll know all about custom software development, how it can help your business, and how to find a developer to work on your project.

What is custom software development?

What is custom software development?

First things first, let’s establish a definition of software. Software is defined as any program a computer uses to perform some kind of function. For example, an operating system (OS) like Windows, Linux, or iOS are examples of software designed to run a computer. Other applications like Microsoft Word and Adobe are designed to perform specific functions, like word processing and managing .pdf files. What you know as mobile apps are, indeed, software applications.

Businesses use custom software development to address new consumer needs and upgrade their existing applications to reach business goals that contribute to increasing revenue. This can include making modifications to back-end administration panels as well.

More specifically, custom software development involves creating new applications or modifying existing ones to add new features or to augment specific functions. For example, it’s common to customize open-source software to add features that didn’t come with the original release. In fact, there is an entire industry dedicated to customizing open-source applications like WordPress, various CRMs, and Wikis.

Here are some examples of common software customizations:

  • Adding a membership feature
  • Adding an appointment scheduling system
  • Customizing the way users can access digital downloads
  • Adding a feature to view PDF files online without downloads
  • Enhancing security, like adding multi-factor authentication (MFA)
  • Adding image galleries
  • Smoothing out the checkout process

Here are some examples of custom software projects designed from scratch:

  • Mobile applications (“apps”)
  • HIPAA-compliant software
  • E-commerce solutions
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) tools
  • Website content management system (CMSs) with admin tools

When does a business need custom development services?

If your business has an online presence, you definitely need some kind of software, but do you need a custom application? The answer depends on your specific needs and goals, but there are some markers that can help you figure it out.

When you need to use software to run your business, you have the option of using something that already exists, or having a custom application made from scratch and perfectly tailored to your needs. Not every business needs custom development. Sometimes, out-of-the-box solutions are perfect as-is. Here’s how to know what you need.

  • Are you required to follow data compliance regulations? If your organization is bound by regulations like GDPR, HIPAA, or the NY SHIELD Act, you need perfect security and there is no room for compromise. This means every software application you use needs to be compliant, and that often requires getting customizations and/or having software designed from scratch.
  • Do you have specific needs not addressed by existing applications? Sometimes, existing software doesn’t even come close to meeting your needs. In this case, it’s generally better (and cheaper) to get a custom application made from scratch. If it takes too much work to augment an existing program, you may as well have it created from the ground up to get everything perfect.
  • Are your needs impossible to add to existing applications? Sometimes it’s not possible to add certain features to existing applications. It depends on how it was built, and sometimes developers don’t use best practices when writing code, which can make customizations a nightmare for programmers. If this is the case, you’ll benefit from having something made from scratch.
  • Does your team need a better workflow? While some applications are designed for your customers or clients, you can also use them for your team. You might want to customize an open-source task management platform, for example. Or, you might want a completely custom application designed from the ground up to facilitate a smoother workflow for your team.

Your team’s efficiency depends on the applications they use to perform their tasks throughout the day. When you optimize their workflow, your daily operations run smoothly.

  • Would you like to integrate various applications? Another good use for custom software development is integrating multiple, separate applications. For instance, you might need data from one application to be accessible in another for the purpose of running better reports. This is one of the most common ways businesses utilize custom development.
  • Do you plan on scaling your business? If you have plans to scale your business in the future, it’s critical to know the capabilities of your current software. If there’s anything that won’t work as you grow, it’s best to implement a solution early on. For example, if an application you currently use won’t support a growing number of users, fix it before it becomes an issue so that your business can grow into the application. Either have it customized (if possible), or hire a developer to create a custom solution that will support your planned business growth.

What are the benefits of custom software development?


Overall, custom development can help your business streamline operational processes, customer interactions, and inter-department communications and collaboration. If you’re still on the fence, here are 5 benefits that make it worth the investment.

1. Your unique business needs will be met

When you have unique requirements, custom software development makes it possible to implement those needs into the applications used by your customers, clients, and team members. This is especially important when you need security measures that go beyond what comes as a standard with existing applications.

Personalized software solutions can give you a competitive edge in your industry, especially given that user experience (UX) plays a major role in customer satisfaction, which directly impacts your company’s profitability.

2. Custom software can save your company money

It might seem easier and cheaper to get free software and have a developer add a small number of features. The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t always work out this way. Sometimes developers use code that has been deprecated, and it will need to be re-written. Re-writing code often takes more time than creating a new program from scratch. Another common issue is messy code that takes forever to sort out, and sometimes applications just can’t be expanded the way you want.

If you’re concerned about the time it takes to build from scratch, don’t worry. Most custom projects aren’t made from complete scratch. Programmers usually have access to existing frameworks for different types of projects, and unless they create proprietary code that becomes the property of the client, they will reuse it for future projects. So, while your custom software project will be created from the ground up, it won’t take as much time as you might think.

3. Automation will save you time and payroll dollars

Did you know that custom software can be used to automate routine, manual processes? If your team members have to perform the same repetitive tasks each day, you might be able to automate them by adding custom features to your existing applications.

When your employees spend less time on technical tasks that can be handled through automation, they’ll have time to focus on more important matters, be more productive, and you’ll save payroll dollars.

4. Custom development can help you update legacy systems

If you’ve been using older software applications that just can’t keep up with today’s market demands, you might be able to have them upgraded to meet your needs. A skilled programming team can recode your legacy systems to include features you need to keep your competitive edge in the marketplace.

5. You’ll have a stronger handle on security

Number of Cyber Attacks

Cybersecurity should be your top priority; the statistics are alarming. According to Cisco, 53% of cyber attacks result in damages amounting to $500,000 or more. This includes a handful of common attacks, like malware, ransomware, and botnets.

Ransomware attacks can be brutal, but data breaches can cause absolutely devastating financial losses. For instance, if you’re bound by data regulations, the fines imposed after a breach can be astronomical, not to mention the loss of business and customer trust.

When you build a custom software application, you can ensure strict security is implemented from the ground up, like encryption, MFA, and user access controls.

Out-of-the-box software vs. custom applications

Are you still not sure whether custom software development is right for you? Consider the following 6 factors when choosing between existing applications and hiring a development team for a custom project.

1. What are your long-term goals?

If your goal is to scale your business, you need software that will scale with you. This may not be possible with out-of-the-box solutions.

2. Does pre-made software meet your needs?

Some pre-existing applications are amazing off the shelf; others aren’t. If you can’t find something that meets all of your needs, you’ll either need customizations or a whole new project.

3. What is your budget?

The ROI on custom software can be excellent when you really nail down the features you need to get that competitive edge. However, if you don’t have the budget for custom software development, you’ll need to choose the best option that you can afford. However, keep custom options in mind for the future when you have access to more funds.

4. Do you need extensive features?

If you need extensive features, it makes sense to get a custom application. On the other hand, if you don’t need anything complex, you’ll probably be okay with an off-the-shelf solution.

5. How long can you wait for deployment?

When you need to launch your software now, you don’t have time to wait for a custom solution. However, if your long-term goals require something more expansive, launch with a temporary application now while you have a custom application built.

6. Do you need to pay for security updates and future releases?

Although you should never compromise on security, regardless of the cost, some software developers charge a significant yearly or monthly fee for access to new releases, including security updates and patches.

Consider the cost of these updates before committing to an application. If the price is doable, and you absolutely need it, don’t hesitate to use that application. However, if the price is steep and/or the software doesn’t fully meet your needs, talk with a programmer to see if you have other options.

How does the custom software development process work?

How does the custom software development process work?

Designing a new software application involves many steps, but first and foremost you’ll need to discuss your project with a development team. They’ll ask you all the right questions to understand your needs and business objectives in order to

You don’t have to concern yourself with anything technical. For instance, your developer will assess your project to determine what programming and/or markup languages are best for your project (for example: PHP, JavaScript C#/.NET, or HTML5, just to name a few options) and they’ll do all the work. All you need to do is communicate with them and be ready to clarify your points, review prototypes, and stay involved in the development process until completion.

Need a custom software application? We’ll develop it for you

Whether you need a web-based or mobile app, we’ll build your project to match your vision. At, we take software development seriously and our team of professional developers would love to help your business get the competitive edge you deserve. Contact us today to get started.

Chief Revenue Officer at Software Development Company
Timothy Carter is the Chief Revenue Officer. Tim leads all revenue-generation activities for marketing and software development activities. He has helped to scale sales teams with the right mix of hustle and finesse. Based in Seattle, Washington, Tim enjoys spending time in Hawaii with family and playing disc golf.
Timothy Carter