Why Choose Custom Software Development for Your Project Management Solution

Digital Transformation project management
Custom Software - Proteus Project Software

Why choose custom software development over an affordable, generic cloud option? Are you aware that customisation is a route that many businesses take?

Investing in new technology can be risky, especially if you are not fully conversant in technical development. Spending money on the wrong solution or working with the wrong developer can scare off potential buyers. And let’s be honest, most business leaders don’t have the right technical expertise to make the call.

However, it is possible to create custom software that meets your business needs and helps you grow efficiently. This blog explains the advantages of custom software development and when to consider investing in it for the best results, particularly in the context of businesses using project management software.

What is custom software?

Custom software development is when a business specifies features and functionality, creating a software solution that is tailored to the requirements of that particular company. This might be building a tool from scratch, however more often than not, a business will work with a software developer to make cusomisations to an existing tool. The aim is to create a better solution than generic off-the-shelf software.

Sometimes this can involve some reasonably basic development work, building new APIs for integration, or it can be much more involved, building unique workflows. The goal is to address the business’s clearly defined challenges or opportunities. Not only is the solution customised to fit the company’s current needs, but it can also adapt to future changes, allowing for the software to evolve along with the company.

So, why is custom software development important? PMI cites a lack of customisation options being one of the key shortcomings experienced by users of project management software.

By making customisations, businesses can become more adaptable, allowing them to grow in ways that are not achievable with generic tools.

Custom software helps small and medium-sized businesses and big companies achieve their goals by providing unique solutions. These solutions give them a competitive edge in the market. While the initial cost may seem high, investing in efficiency and staying ahead of competitors can lead to long-term benefits.

The Advantages of Custom Software Development

Custom software development is increasingly transforming all sectors and is a game-changer for companies working on highly complex projects, like those in the energy sector. By implementing highly specified software customisation, companies can seamlessly collaborate with clients, workforce, suppliers, and other stakeholders in ways that maximize project efficiency and outcomes. This strategic approach not only enhances operational effectiveness but also fosters stronger stakeholder relationships, enriching the overall experience for all parties involved.

Get software that is fit for purpose

Every business is unique, with its own set of challenges and requirements. Custom software development allows businesses to address these specific needs directly, whereas generic software requires the business to adapt to it. Customizing to this extent can make operations more efficient and give businesses an advantage in the market.

As we outline in our eBook 5 Signs it’s Time to Upgrade Your Project Management Software one of the most difficult hurdles for a company wanting to upgrade their project management system is making the behavioural change. For many, the difficulty lies not in envisioning the idea but in executing it. At Proteus we see three key pain points that recur time and time again amongst the clients that come to us looking for help. The fact these problems can’t be solved by an off the shelf option is a good indicator that a custom software solution is needed. Here are the three questions we ask.

  • Are your projects falling behind schedule and overrunning budgets? 
  • Do you struggle to get a quick and easy view on project progress?
  • Do you manage much of your planning on complicated spreadsheets?

If your answer is yes, you need to consider a custom solution. Your teams are falling behind schedule and going over budget because they think their work is too specialized for existing tools. They prefer using their own spreadsheets and can’t see their progress clearly. Custom software is the solution.

Gain competitive advantage

The current saturated market poses a challenge to many engineering businesses in the energy sector. In a crowded market, standing out is essential. Custom software allows businesses to offer unique features and services that competitors may not have. This differentiation can attract more customers and help retain existing ones, giving the business a significant edge.

Be future-ready

Custom software is highly scalable. As businesses grow and their needs change, custom software can evolve with them, ensuring they always have the right tools to succeed. This adaptability means businesses won’t outgrow their software, providing a sustainable, long-term solution. Moreover, custom software is more secure than off-the-shelf options because it can incorporate security measures tailored to the specific risks of the business. This makes it less vulnerable to common threats. For industries with strict regulatory requirements, custom software can be built to meet these standards from the start, ensuring both security and compliance.

The Disadvantages of Custom Software Development

Whilst we are clearly passionate about companies implementing the right customised software for their business, it is important to recognise there are potential pitfalls:

  1. Upfront Investment in Time and Budget: The initial cost for custom software can be higher than for an out-of-the-box solution. This makes it challenging to justify the expense to a buying committee that may not fully see the benefits. Additionally, developing a tailored solution can be time-consuming and demands dedicated resources from the buying team, especially if the requirements are complex.
  2. Development dependancies: Without thorough documentation, there may be a heavy reliance on the original developers for updates or modifications. Excessive tailoring can restrict the software’s adaptability to future changes or broader applications.

These disadvantages can be mitigated through clear communication and planning. The key lies in understanding your business’s unique needs and ensuring that the software developed aligns with those requirements while providing flexibility for future growth.

Do you need to replace a legacy system?

In the corporate world, introducing new software often means replacing existing systems, but this isn’t always the case. Custom software offers the unique advantage of being able to integrate alongside existing legacy systems, breathing new life into them. For example, a modern user portal can be developed to connect to legacy databases, enhancing their functionality without the need for complete replacement. This approach is crucial when transitioning from spreadsheets to a more dynamic platform, or upgrading legacy technology to modern solutions. 

How to justify the investment

The decision to invest in custom software should fundamentally be driven by its potential for a positive return on investment (ROI). Whether the aim is to increase revenue, reduce operational costs, or equip employees with tools that enhance their efficiency, the ultimate objective is clear: value addition.

When evaluating the total cost of ownership of a new software solution versus the older one, several factors should be considered:

  1. Streamlining Processes: How will the new software optimize workflows, enhance productivity, and reduce operational inefficiencies?
  2. Cost Reduction: What are the expected reductions in maintenance, support, and operational costs with the new software compared to the existing system?
  3. Revenue Potential: Can the new software open up opportunities for increased revenue through enhanced capabilities or market expansion?

Given that most custom software has a lifecycle of 6 to 8 years, it is important to take a long-term perspective. If the new software can empower employees by making their tasks more efficient and intuitive, the investment is further justified. The ability to integrate and revitalize existing systems, rather than replacing them entirely, is a significant factor in the decision-making process. This approach not only preserves valuable aspects of current systems but also enhances their functionality, providing a balanced and future-proof solution.

Custom software offers a compelling value proposition through its potential for long-term returns. By avoiding the pitfalls of generic, mismatched software solutions, businesses can prevent costly operational errors, ensuring that each dollar invested today generates substantial future dividends.

However, the success of this investment is heavily contingent upon selecting the right development partner. An ill-suited partnership can not only jeopardize the financial investment but also lead to missed opportunities and operational inefficiencies. Therefore, it is crucial to collaborate with a developer or team that thoroughly understands your vision, industry-specific intricacies, and unique needs.

How to choose the right software developer

Outsourcing custom software development involves identifying your software needs, researching potential development partners, evaluating their expertise, and establishing a collaborative relationship. Key steps include defining your project scope, setting a budget, shortlisting vendors based on reviews and past projects, conducting interviews, and finalizing contracts. It’s crucial to maintain open communication throughout the development process to ensure the project aligns with your business goals.

  1. Define Project Requirements and Goals: Clearly outline your objectives and specific needs. Work with all stakeholder teams in your company, not just the project managers. However, ensure you have a single project lead to avoid your scope turning into Frankenstein’s monster!
  2. Research Potential Partners: Investigate potential vendors, review their portfolios, and examine their previous work to ensure alignment with your project’s demands.
  3. Request Client References: Obtain references from past clients to assess the vendor’s reliability, quality of work, and ability to meet deadlines.
  4. Agree Pricing Models, Timelines, and Maintenance Support: Clarify the cost structure, project timelines, and the nature of post-launch support they offer.

A trustworthy development partner will emphasize transparency, effective communication, and collaboration throughout the project, ensuring alignment with your vision and long-term business goals.

We believe developers should work with their clients as collaborative partners. This approach differs significantly from buying generic off-the-shelf cloud licences or implementing a rigid, on-premise system with inflexible custom coding. At Proteus we consult with customers to achieve an evolving SaaS solution that enables users to quickly adapt to new project challenges and keep pace with changing ways of working.

About Proteus

Proteus is an end-to-end project management solution developed for the energy and engineering consulting industries. 

Proteus is industry-proven and enables consultancies to meet project demands across the full lifecycle, from proposal development to project delivery. Proteus helps its customers win more business, increase efficiencies, manage expenditures, and improve project controls.

Critical workflows, automation, and controls are integrated into Proteus. These include opportunity evaluation, proposal building, resource planning, budget tracking and forecasting, real-time multi-level restricted dashboards, and project performance analytics.

Third-party integrations and customised solutions allow Proteus’ users, which include C-suite, project leads, and engineers, to get the exact software solution needed for their business.

We offer a free onboarding consultation service to ensure your company account is set up to your company’s needs.

How to get Proteus

Proteus operates under a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. We offer Enterprise packages and flexible pricing solutions: contact our team to learn more.We designed Proteus to be simple, and that means you can get up and running on Proteus without an IT team or support from a programmer. You will want to spend a bit of time configuring the admin console so that you have everything set up to suit your company structure, but it’s very intuitive and you don’t need a PhD in IT. However, we want you to get the best out of what is a brilliantly powerful tool, so don’t hesitate to ask for our support. We have a team of product experts who are ready to help you with the configuration process, so get in touch today by filling out the form below:

Get your free Proteus demo