Tablet with data on the screen

Running lean (AKA trying to save a buck in the budget) and working smart are not always the same thing. Sometimes, you absolutely have to be frugal when it comes to business expenses. But – you also have to know when “being frugal” and “running lean” are costing you more in time and money in the long run. And your software applications are a good place to start looking. If you’re using some inexpensive, off-the-shelf (OTS) software solution to run your business that ALMOST meets your needs, but not quite … if using the software actually stifles productivity, hampers your processes, and adds stress to your employees … these are all signs your business will get more done with custom software applications.

Making the jump to custom software for any part of your business is a big decision, one that should not be taken lightly, since a lot of time and money are at stake. Sometimes it can be hard to tell when implementing new custom software is a nice-to-have versus a must-have.

If you recognize any of these five signs your business will get more done with custom software applications while reading this guide, it might be time to interview some development teams and find a custom software solution of your own.

You spend too much time on data entry

Automation is an important time-saver – especially when it comes to tasks like data entry. No, you can’t automate all manual data entry, but you should be able to automate most of it. Spreadsheets and databases are great, but if you’ve got an entire process (or department) that revolves around manually creating and updating spreadsheets or whatever you’re using as your database and tracking system, it’s time to start looking at other, better options.

Forget for a moment that manual data entry is a huge drain on your human resources budget. Let’s talk about how accurate manual data entry isn’t. Human error is a reality – and errors are more likely to happen when humans are doing massive amounts of data entry. When something goes wrong, it could take weeks or months to figure out where the error came from – and just as long (if not longer) to correct that error. When you’ve got people counting on the facts and figures being tracked in a spreadsheet, they need to be accurate – and when errors do happen, they need to be caught and fixed quickly.

And then there’s the fact, as we’ve mentioned, that data entry is also time consuming. Automation could mean saving money that would normally be spent on data entry employees, and that money can be allocated for more important projects that will move your company forward faster. Or, it could free up time for your current employees to focus on more important projects and tasks, including business development or innovation projects.

You’re using multiple programs for one process

If you’re using multiple programs to complete one process, you’ve definitely got a redundancy problem that can be solved with custom software – especially if none of those software programs can be synchronized to “talk” to each other. It may seem like a money saver to cobble together a few programs in order to get a process completed rather than spending money on new software, but in many cases it’s not. When your team spends more time going from one program to the next to get the information they need – or if they have to input the same information in multiple places – the time they’re spending is just not worth it. (Not to mention the torment they’re probably suffering, having to go through such a cumbersome process.)

When a process involves multiple programs, it’s easy for things to fall through the cracks, for a data entry error to happen, or for endless hours to be spent trying to fix a problem when something goes awry. This problem could be compounded when it impacts your relationship with clients. It should be easy for clients to do business with you, not hard or frustrating.

You and your employees feel a huge strain from your business processes

If your team is struggling to accomplish important processes because they don’t have the technology they need, and there is nothing on the market that will solve their problem, then it’s time to look into custom software that will help ease the burden of your processes.

A lot of companies with unique business models or processes find themselves in this situation. Software marketed to the masses can’t be everything to everyone. When your business has a process and the software applications don’t match what you do, it’s best to have something custom built.

You need a competitive advantage

If there’s a pain point in your industry that isn’t solved with legacy software, it would be advantageous to have custom software built to solve it – whether you’re trying to solve a customer-facing problem or an internal process problem.

In the end, what matters most is the service you provide to customers. If you make it easier for customers to do business with you, or if you make certain processes better for clients, you’ll set yourself apart from competitors. Whether it’s a custom app that makes a part of the process more accessible or an entire software application that will change the way you do business, there’s something to be said about being an innovator in your industry. People will notice, and it can help you earn customer loyalty. (It will also give you a great reputation as a leader.)

On the other hand, fixing internal processes will make it easier for your sales and business development people to deliver better customer service to clients. They’ll be happier and be able to work better. That can lead to better employee retention, as well as better customer service. It’s a win-win either way.

It could generate revenue for you

If custom software could solve a pain point for your customers and even create a new revenue stream, it’s definitely a sign you should go for it and have custom software built. That’s an easy return on investment you shouldn’t pass up.

These five signs your business will get more done with custom software applications really boil down to one thing: If there’s nothing out there that meets your needs and you’ve got processes and employees suffering because of it, then it’s time for a custom software application solution. In the end, you’ll save money on labor, increase productivity, and end up making back the money you spent on development.

Have any of these ideas sparked some ideas of your own about how custom software could help you and your teams work more efficiently? Feel free to contact us at RTS Labs to set up a free consultation. We’re always happy to bounce ideas around with you. If you walk away with even one valuable idea from our conversation, it will have been time well spent.