Making an investment in software that is unique to your business is not something you enter into lightly. While no solution is ever completely unique, there is always some part that is hand-crafted to meet the specific business needs of each client. If you’ve done any research into building custom software, you know that it requires a substantial investment of time and money. A typical client of ours can expect their project to take three or more months to complete, with a six figure cost to build. So how do you know if now is the time to bite the bullet and make that commitment?
At Mutually Human, we have been fortunate to help many clients achieve next-level performance by building custom software with and for them. Even though no two clients have the same requirements, we’ve come to recognize several patterns that helped lead them to our door.
This post kicks off a series of articles to help you understand if custom software is the right answer for you. Follow along and see how often you see your organization’s challenges reflected herein. If only one or two of these symptoms accurately characterize your situation, then it’s probably too soon to make the kind of investment demanded by custom software development. But if you’re seeing yourself time and again, it’s quite likely you’d benefit from using software to strengthen your position.
Sign 1 – It takes too long to get simple things done because you feel overwhelmed
One of the first signs that you might need custom software comes from how you feel at the end of your workday. Do you and your team feel productive and energized? Or is everyone stressed because the amount of work to be done feels oppressing. Maybe you have to juggle dozens of work orders and spend too much time keeping the high priority ones in front of you. Perhaps your team is spending too much time servicing existing customers instead of finding new ones. If something that used to take one day now takes three, you probably need help managing the workload.
Custom software can offer relief. Let’s see a few examples of how this happens:
It can prioritize the urgent over the recent
Have you seen the Pixar movie Up? Even if you haven’t, you’ve no doubt seen reference to the lovable Dug who is easily distracted by the squirrel. That moment in the film has broken into popular culture because we all recognize ourselves in it. We’re all prone to distraction when something new and novel shows up. These distractions affect our productivity profoundly. Estimates vary, but a distracted knowledge worker trying to get back on task frequently loses 20 or more minutes every time they get off track.
Software can help us avoid this tendency. The business rules we embed into code allow us to surface high priority or urgent things, even if they are not the squirrel that just wandered by.
It can deliver standard reports any time data changes
Many managers are adherents to Peter Drucker’s saying that “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”. Even if you disagree with that sentiment, you still almost certainly rely on information and reports to properly understand what is going on within your business. Many of our clients rely on manual processes to gather the critical information they need every day. Invariably, these clients are either living with stale data or are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work required to keep everything up to date.
Software never gets tired and returns results instantly. It can give you real time access to who your best customers are and what their most recent order was. It can provide daily revenue figures and help you understand which business process changes are having the most impact. Reporting features are part of every custom software project, saving time and reducing stress along the way.
It can automate repeated tasks
Generating reports is merely one example of a task that benefits from automation. Your business undoubtedly has many more. Are you building invoices by hand? Do you create digital products for your customers through a sequence of manual steps? Are you sending status reports to customers every time you complete some action? Whatever the cause, doing the same work over and over by hand not only introduces an opportunity for failure (more on that in future post), but it also leaves you feeling overwhelmed as your business grows.
Building custom software gives you the ability to help scale and expand. It is efficiently and consistently does what it’s programmed to do. It does it day and night, and in a fraction of the time it takes to do it by hand. For many of our clients, this peace of mind alone is worth the investment they put into building a custom solution to help them run their business.
Are you feeling overwhelmed?
Many of us dream of the days when our business starts to grow beyond the point we thought possible. But when that happens, we start to realize that we designed our business only for that initial vision of the possible. The growth that was so desired starts to present its own set of problems and we become victims of our own success.
If that picture describes you, we at Mutually Human might be able to help. For more than a decade, we’ve helped clients build the software used to run their business. We may be able to help you too. It costs nothing to find out. Give us a call and we’ll tell you about our Free Consultation, where together we explore how custom software can help you feel more in control and ready for continued growth.