Custom software often gets a bad rap, but it’s really nothing to be afraid of. While you should certainly respect the size and scope of certain custom developments, there are other pieces of software that you can create and customize for your organization that will make all the difference.
Sometimes, a few lines of custom code are the difference between systems that mesh together perfectly and banging your head on the wall trying to make a stock piece of software work for your unique business.
This post is to point out the low-hanging fruit. The pieces of software that we’ve become experts in building, that are not as expensive, require little to no maintenance and make all the difference in dialing in your existing systems. These are projects that you may not have even considered yet—but should.
Building Custom Software Integrations
The idealistic thought is that one software system could cover all your needs—but the realistic approach is a suite of software applications that are specialized for your business and integrate with one another perfectly. The idea is to remove duplicate efforts and data entry from the equation completely.
This approach is much more effective because it gives you all the flexibility to pick the systems that fit your business processes—rather than molding your business processes to various pieces of software.
We’d be willing to bet that whatever systems you’re working with has already built and documented their API for this purpose. In other words, they’ve created a method (called an API) for other systems to talk to theirs. That’s the start of integrating your various systems.
With that, we will design integrations around your processes and the way that you want data to flow between systems.
Here are some questions to get your wheels spinning:
- How do you want data to flow from your lead generation systems (Social media, your website, word of mouth, business cards, etc) into your CRM? Is there a way that you could simplify this to ensure more complete and accurate data?
- What follow-up systems could you connect with your CRM? How can we connect and automate your phone, email, etc. to those systems?
- Could you pull insights from this data to better train your sales team? What about to improve your marketing efforts with more timely and complete messaging?
- How clean is the tie-in between marketing and sales efforts and your financial reporting or billing systems? Are there ways to simplify or automate this to require less duplicate work from your team?
- Could we create a better central database where all of this information between systems can stay in sync?
There’s a lot you can do here, and a little time planning and creating these integrations could save your team hours or days of labor time.
Building Custom Web Portals
We’re surprised that we don’t see more of this, considering the amount of investment that businesses are already putting into their websites.
Custom web portals are essentially websites on steroids. The difference is that they connect with your backend systems, creating an engaging and useful experience for your audience. If you’re at all familiar with successful development culture in Silicon Valley, you know that the best in the business are obsessed with one metric—daily active users. This is a measurement of how many people interact with your brand or product on a daily basis. High marks here are indicative of a thriving business.
The only way to improve daily active users is to create a more engaging and useful experience for them. When you put all your data, information, and services together in one simple and beautifully designed portal, you will be creating that type of experience.
Developing a custom web portal is actually really simple. It just requires a little know-how in connecting systems, accessibility, and UX design that make the whole process intuitive.
CRM Customization and Modification
We’re experts in CRM, having built a handful of custom CRM for our clients. While we love the look and feel of a custom CRM (there is nothing that can mold to your business quite like it), it doesn’t make sense for all businesses. The bright side is that with a few lines of custom code, most CRM’s can be adapted to fit your business pretty nicely.
This frequently has to do with the custom integrations we were talking about earlier in this article. Your CRM often becomes your main source of data and information, so you want to automate everything the best you possibly can. Then, building web portals using that data ensures that you and all of your network are getting the best possible ROI on your investment.
Just because you haven’t built a custom CRM doesn’t mean that your CRM shouldn’t mold perfectly to your processes. If there is something that isn’t quite meshing perfectly, it’s likely that custom code can be the fix you’re looking for.
A Note on Custom Software Development
Having been in the business for a while, we’ve built a lot of custom projects and seen their benefits. We’ve also seen the tight schedule software vendors are running up against. You are one of thousands of customers and they’re frequently asked to create new features. These pile up quickly and it’s pretty common that the ones that get responded to are from the clients who yell the loudest.
This means that the features you want so badly are sometimes a year or more away from becoming a reality.
It may be a much easier approach to work around your vendor and create the features you want with your own custom systems. This will save you time and money, and you’ll own the code or systems that you’ve created—meaning you won’t have to pay a subscription fee and you can modify it as you please.