As Supply Chain Professionals, we are well aware that there are certain overarching principles, rules and concepts that hold true from business to business, and across the borders of entire industries, no matter what.
As Technical Professionals however, experience has taught us that the way in which specific operational processes and methods are executed in any business, are invariably as unique and individual as the people managing them.
This is essentially how we see the key difference between off-the-shelf and customised, or bespoke software. The former abides by the overarching principles, rules and concepts that are true for all businesses, while the latter pays far greater attention to those things that are unique and different about individual businesses, even in the same industries, as well.
Some other very important benefits of customised or bespoke software is as follows:
Put yourself in the shoes of a hacker. Would you be more tempted to go after a big, fat single data repository on the internet that holds the highly confidential information of millions of busineses you can break into in a matter of days if not hours with a massive payoff, or spend months, possibly years hacking your way through much smaller, individual sites one by one, with a miniscule payoff each time?
Off the shelf systems make you work how they want you to, instead of adapting to the way you prefer or need to. This leads to there always being workarounds, where certain features of the system are bent (sometimes to breaking point) to accomodate the specific needs of your business that were considered too non-standard to be dealt with by an already massively complex enterprise system.
There are always loads of features in off-the-shelf systems that you will never use. You still pay for them though.
Even the most amazing enterprise-wide mega system that supposedly does everything leaves gaps that will never be filled. Like a fully-laden super container freighter being expected to make door to door deliveries. It's never going to happen.
Don't you just love the way you start your computer, eager to get on with the day, and are then forced to drink several cups of coffee you didn't want while you wait for your software to update? No? We're not surprised. With customised software, the only time there'll ever be an upgrade is when you want a new feature or functionality to be added.
Because you own the software, making changes to it to adapt to changing circumstances in your business isn't going to land you in any legal hot water.
One of the best kept secrets of the technical world is that data is data, is data. There are so many ways that applications can communicate with each other that integration nowadays is a breeze.
We love spreadsheets. That's something we need to make clear. However, we've seen some pretty "interesting" spreadsheet acrobatics that have managed to shake even our own battle-hardened sensitivities. But this is totally understandable, since MS Excel is an incredibly powerful tool that can be made to jump through some pretty impressive hoops. And, equally understandable is the fact that not everyone has the time or inclination to properly learn the very many features and perhaps more importantly, disciplines that have to be used when stepping into the realm of programming, which is what using macros and VBA ultimately is.
There's nothing worse than those embarrassing moments when teams that are meant to be working together, end up reporting different numbers because someone (noone ever knows who) accidentally deleted a formula that all the other hundreds of spreadsheets were relying on. A much better solution would be to consolidate all the data being held in those spreadsheets into one central database, and sharing it between and among the teams, and giving each team member access to data that they specifically need, without cluttering them with information they don't need.
And if your teams need MS Excel to carry out complicated calculations and enter data, then specialised Excel interfaces can be connected to the central database to enable just that. Keep an eye out for another article coming very soon on a project where we implemented this exact set up for a major national retailer.
These are just some of the good things about customised software that come readily to our minds. We'll be very happy to discuss why and how customised software would be great for your business.