Used for everything from accounting and reporting to employee scheduling and customer relationship management, software is essential for modern businesses. These applications save companies significant time and money by creating structured, often-automated processes to meet businesses’ needs and help eliminate human errors. It’s therefore no surprise that $3.94 trillion was spent worldwide on business software between 2009 and 2020.
However, there is rarely such a thing as perfect off-the-shelf software. These cookie-cutter solutions are designed to appeal to the masses and, while capable of doing the job, they may not be wholly suitable to individual businesses. Many ready-made types of software can lack the features and functionality your company needs, ultimately leading to a suboptimal solution with poor ROI. But it doesn’t have to be this way — custom software development (otherwise known as custom application development) lets businesses enjoy software that meets their exact requirements.
Custom application development is the process of designing, creating and deploying tailor-made software applications for specific users. For instance, many schools, healthcare providers and businesses create their own custom portals for students, patients and employees alike, to be used for a variety of purposes. Other notable and more widely used types of custom software include Uber’s ride-sharing application, Netflix’s video streaming platform, and Apple’s iOS software.
The custom application development process is often either performed by in-house developers or outsourced to a third-party, using the same processes and methodologies applied to readymade applications, but with a much narrower focus. That said, the rise of low-code development platforms has enabled citizen developers to create these kinds of apps by themselves instead of building the app from scratch through coding. As such, low-code development platforms reduce the reliance on dedicated developers, cutting production time and costs, while also boosting the efficiency of developers when using them.
EASA is one example of a low-code development platform that enables citizen developers to create custom applications. However, it is unique in that it is designed to let you build a custom web application that can be utilized to access Excel spreadsheets. While the well-known Microsoft program is the go-to tool for numerous business functions, Excel sheets can spiral out of control when they are shared or used for collaborative purposes. This may lead to issues such as version confusion, with people accessing different copies of the same spreadsheet, intellectual property exposure from files being shared by unsecure means like email, or compatibility problems if users don’t have the same versions of Excel.
Instead, EASA allows businesses to develop a custom app with enhanced spreadsheet management to suit their exact requirements and preferred working style. But rather than rewriting the logic, VBA or macros contained in spreadsheets, EASA instead converts Excel files into custom apps. These existing spreadsheets remain within a business’s network or the cloud and are the “logic engine” for the web application, which has a custom user interface function that lets individuals make use of these files. However, users can never directly touch a spreadsheet or alter its logic or macros using the app, just the input data. This helps to eradicate the issues outlined above. Allowing companies to develop such an application themselves has numerous benefits in its own right, some of which we’ve outlined below.
The most obvious benefit of custom application development is that the application created is personalized to your company’s exact needs, unlike off-the-shelf software. This can simplify and streamline user interaction, often making software usable by a broad number of people, rather than just those who are experts or familiar with it.
As time goes on, custom-made apps can also be tailored to meet your company’s present and future needs. By comparison, ready-made software leaves you at the mercy of its developers, who may not update or improve it to your satisfaction.
Businesses tend to use a range of software in their operations, which can lead to compatibility issues. Custom application development helps to bypass this issue, ensuring that the apps you create are compatible with the other tools your company uses, bolstering efficiency. Furthermore, custom app development can often integrate and automate workflows consisting of multiple software, providing additional efficiency and reduction of user errors.
Off-the-shelf software is a lot more vulnerable to hackers, since it’s used by so many businesses and available to everyone. As a result, hackers will become familiar with the code of those particular programs, which makes them easier to infiltrate. Furthermore, the possibility of accessing the data of multiple businesses is especially attractive for cybercriminals. Custom-made apps are typically much harder to hack, as they will only be used within one company, with the possibility of additional levels of protection, making them less enticing as a data source for any hackers.