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We could purchase an off the shelf software package or… we could write our own? We are doing well as a company, so why shouldn’t we?! Well we could, but let us have a think about this…

Instead of purchasing an off-the-shelf workforce management software package, another option that is increasing in popularity is contracting a software developer to create a custom-built system for the business. There are many reasons for managers to want to take this approach, as a quality designed system can be an asset to the organisation. A poorly built system, however, can be disastrous.

Something to Call Your Own

Among the many reasons people want to go down this path, one of the significant driving factors is the increasing number of different software systems that businesses are required to use to be able to function in our online world. Business managers understandably want to streamline as many areas of their business as possible for efficiency.

Another factor is the desire to get an edge over the opposition using unique software features and analytics that go above and beyond what other people in the industry have access to.

Where it Can Be Difficult

The difficulty often faced when approaching custom designed software is that most business owners are very experienced in their industry, not in developing software and their understanding of the pitfalls can be somewhat limited. It is naïve to think that all developers who are looking to further their own opportunities are likely to point out all the downsides of this approach and/or any of their own limitations.

The truth is that, on the surface, software is deceptively simple. Even considerably basic apps are complex to write, if a quality result is required. Most people would never consider making other equally complex products, such as for example, their own motor vehicle. Just as a poorly designed car can do a lot of damage, so can poorly designed software.

Streamlining Without Compromising Capability

Another big motivator for creating a custom-built platform is to consolidate numerous different applications into one. Not only does this potentially save costs, but it also means that people are not opening and closing different software applications all day.

The problem with this approach is that software built for different purposes generally require completely different layouts and functionality. It would be like trying to build a vehicle that has both the features of a pushbike and a semi-trailer truck.

Software that incorporates too many diverse features are often unstable and expensive to build, tend not to have unreliable results and are complex to learn and operate. This is why, for example, Microsoft maintains the individuality of their Office Suite programs in preference to amalgamating them all.

Some people in a business may benefit from having two or even three programs rolled into one, but most people in that business will never use these extra features and will find using the software too difficult. There is a reason nobody has successfully marketed a floating, flying car yet. Very few people want all of these vehicles rolled into one.

Then There’s What You Cannot See

Generally, by the time a business owner has decided to go with building their own software, they know all the features they want and don’t want in the application. They base this on what they do and don’t like in other software they have used.

Whilst this approach makes complete sense on the surface, they are often unaware of all the important hidden features that make the software safe, secure and reliable, lending the situation to software design that does not deliver on expectations. This is a major stumbling block for first time software builders.

Finding a good developer is another challenge.  Developers who are used to talking to people at their level about this subject, can seem to talk a different language when they talk to you. A program can be written many ways, and each developer has their own unique knowledge and skill level, they may not know the best coding and simply use what they have always used. The specialised process itself, of software development enables opportunities to cut corners, without detection by the client until it is too late.

Making Sure Today’s Savings Are Not Tomorrow’s Costs

One area where costs can blow out with employee tracking software or any software, is the hardware. This can be costly in several ways.

To keep costs down, a staff tracking app can be designed to work on a limited number of smartphone devices, maybe only certain Android phones for example. The problem with doing this is that it is then harder for the company to save money by getting the staff to use their own phones, as all employees must have exactly the right phones.

The alternative to this is for the company to supply phones, but then run the risk of the phones being repeatedly damaged and destroyed.

Building an app that can work on a range of phones, including both Android and iPhone, and keeping these apps up to date with the latest operating systems, as well as honouring older models becomes awfully expensive very quickly.

As well as keeping up with the latest operating systems, the software may have to be patched to protect against emerging security threats, as well as the ongoing updates that go with software bug fixes. Software bugs will happen no matter how good the developer is. Constant updates to keep up with Windows, IOS or Android changes are necessary.

Keeping the data on a secure server long term is the other big ongoing cost. This is a cost that software companies can minimise for their customers through the economics of scale.  

What Is Your Time Worth?

Ultimately, developing software, is a long, drawn-out complicated process with no guarantees on the quality of the result. It is common for projects to run over time, and over budget, even for experienced software development companies such as UniGuard. Naturally, well designed software with all the functionality that is needed can be more expensive.

For an inexperienced company, the development cost can easily exceed $1 million, for software that ends up being no better, or sometimes ever worse than the ready-made staff tracking software they could have purchased for a fraction of this price. Did I mention maintenance to keep up with changes in operating systems?

Many business owners who have commissioned their own software admit to being disappointed with the product they eventually receive. Unlike ready-made software, it is impossible to try out the software before you commit money to the project. Ultimately a lot of thought must go into good design, and this can only be guided with knowledge and experience.

Another Alternative

An attractive alternative that may not readily come to mind; is getting an established company, such as UniGuard who already have a well-maintained employee tracking software in the market, to offer a solution to you. Contact us today and we will be incredibly happy to show you how.

Would you like to know more about how UniGuard can customise a software package to your needs , click here to find out more?