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  • Writer's pictureSylvester

When is the Right Time to Invest in Custom Software Development?

For most small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and startups, there comes a point in a company’s growth when a crucial decision needs to be made:

Should we invest in custom software development? And if so, when?

On one end of the spectrum, there are off-the-shelf solutions that can go a long way in helping businesses gain initial traction, but the drawback is that they don’t offer the malleability to address the nuances of your business as you grow. They can also create bad user experiences, especially if they’re hodge-podged together with other off-the-shelf solutions. At the other end of the spectrum, in-house dev teams are costly, and even if you have one, it’s risky to divert their time and attention from established lines of business (known success) for dev work in uncharted waters (uncertain success). Here are some signs that it’s time to invest in custom software development services with a third-party partner.

3 Signs It’s Time to Invest in Custom Software Development

1. Your unique market position doesn’t fit with existing tools.

This is true for SMBs and startups alike – your unique market position needs tailor-made tools that will help you fulfill your vision and purpose. Instead of contorting your business processes to fit the tool, you’re crafting the tools to fit your business. Precision around specific use cases, features, and customer experiences are key to establishing that differentiated market position and competitive advantage in the marketplace.

2. You’re ready to scale your business.

The off-the-shelf software solutions that helped your company become viable may not be the best fit for your company as it grows, especially if your pay-per-seat license, for example, becomes too expensive. While the upfront cost and time investment of custom software can seem daunting, your business will realize that ROI through long term efficiency – by streamlining processes, reducing manual work, and eliminating the need for multiple software licenses. The endless potential for customization means that your solution can be designed to scale with your business as it grows and adjusted as the market evolves.

3. You need a cost-efficient option for opening a new line of business.

The targeted solution you’re dreaming of is possible, but it’s going to be harder and more costly to create with an off-the-shelf solution. Alternatively, if you already have an in-house dev team, using them to build an experimental new solution is a significant investment in company time and resources that could take away from established business operations, before you’re completely sure that the new solution is truly viable. Working with a third-party development partner can give you the customization you need with a lean development strategy that reduces the risk to your business.

How to Invest in Custom Software Development - Strategically

There may be other signs that your business needs custom software investment, but these are the most common issues we find with clients. If any of the above resonates with where your business is at, you may be wondering: what now? Here are some tips we’ve learned from working with our clients about how to invest in custom dev work strategically.

Define the problem you’re trying to solve.

Whether you’re a startup with a compelling new concept or an SMB ready to open a new line of business, defining the problem you’re trying to solve is a foundational step. Before you can even define your Minimum Viable Product (MVP), you have to have a clear understanding of the problem you’re trying to solve, otherwise you won’t know if the custom solution you’re building is working.

Agility is key.

In software development, agility is the set of processes and principles that prioritize adaptability, collaboration, and responsiveness. When you’re building a new solution, an agile approach allows teams to iterate and refine a product as the team learns more about users’ needs and experiences. It’s the lean, efficient way to build and it will help your team gain feedback about your concept very early in the process.

Remember the tortoise & the hare.

At Mile Marker, we live by a saying, “Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.” We’ve learned from experience that the time we take at the beginning to align with our clients, understand their business and the problems they’re trying to solve, and understand their end user, will help us quickly build an effective MVP that we can iterate on together. Dev shops that skip this step spend costly time on the back end of a build correcting false assumptions or scrapping a product altogether. Don’t be afraid of taking the time to get a clear picture because it will pay off in the end.

If you’re a startup or SMB seeking MVP software development services, let’s talk. Our agile development strategy gives us the ability to build a custom solution and get it into market at startup speed.

About Mile Marker

Mile Marker is your strategic partner for agile software development. Created for founders, by founders, we offer strategic software at startup speed. We specialize in aligning your technical work with your business goals through collaborative planning, offering a multidisciplinary development team, and ensuring ongoing support for your software. If you’re searching for a software development company or need a technical partner, start the conversation with an introductory call.


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