Custom Written Software

For those entities, whether public or private, being offered custom written software, buyer beware.


Custom built software makes sense for large to mega-large companies and institutions, in terms of revenue, where highly tailored functions or features can amount to large gains in efficiency and/or cost savings. A small percentage increase in efficiency or savings with institutions may equal to millions or hundreds of millions in savings or revenue so the added cost of research and development are not only warranted but highly recommended. Generally speaking, the reason this applies only to companies and institutions of that size is because, as most seem to overlook, custom software comes at an average of 2 to 3 times the cost of over the shelf offerings and can take up to years to develop. If the savings/revenue increase is great enough, of course, the benefits outweigh the cost.

Technical considerations:

Reliability, feature set, and functionality are influenced heavily by the coders tasked and results can very greatly depending on the coders used. If you can only afford a snot-nosed, 22yr old, fresh out of college (God bless his/her little heart- he actually made it to graduation) coder to write your code... you might be in for a one heck of a roller coaster ride. To boot, maintenance, continued development to maintain relevance, security patching will become internal tasks- costly. With over the shelf software, those tasks are done in the R&D departments of the software companies with the costs shouldered by those same companies, dispersed and justified by wide adoption and subsequent sales. This only adds to the already 2 to 3 fold increase in cost, stunts deployment possibilities, and it makes the opportunity to draw on knowledge base aggregated by worldwide users impossible. The user base of the custom software become heavily reliant on the developer for training, software maintenance, software security, and the like. Yes, we live on an island paradise but, as an IT analogy, being stuck on an island is no paradise. It's important to realize that, if the software is custom enough, as a system a whole, there won't be any meaningful bidding going on to support it. Why not? You only really have one option- the coder who wrote it.

The idea of owning software that is specifically tailored to you, commissioned by you, NAMED by you may sound appealing and give the feeling that, if I do get this software, I've "arrived". Be careful and, considering the size of entities in our neck of the woods (Boeing, Inc has more employees than we have citizens), question any character touting the blessings of so-called "custom" software. You may be consulting with a snake oil salesman.

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