- Benefits of Custom Development
- Low Risk
- Microsoft technology platform
Benefits of Custom Development (or Custom Development v’s Commercial Off the Shelf Applications)
There are very few Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) packages that do not require major customisations to fully meet the business needs of organisations. One of the exceptions to this may be accounting packages – but even these packages are prone to require the client to change their business rules to meet those of the application. The general rule of thumb is if a COTS package does not meet approximately 80% of the detailed functional requirements ‘out of the box’ then a custom solution should be considered. A CSA custom solution offers:
- Low maintenance costs. A custom solution does not tie the customer into a costly upgrade path in order to maintain a supported version of the software. The average COTS product vendor releases at least one new version per annum and drops support for versions that are older than the new version-1. In order to maintain support agreements COTS customers must upgrade.
- Customer driven functionality and enhancements. The functionality of a custom solution will meet the specific needs of the customer without the confusion of unnecessary 'bells & whistles'. The customer has control over the degree of ease of use and configuration that is built into the solution. The essential drawback to off-the-shelf solutions is that they do not allow absolute control over the origin and often the ongoing baseline of code upon which they rely. Also, most COTS product vendors enjoy a broad customer base with each customer having very limited or no input into the development direction of the product. Thus it becomes almost impossible to enforce unique requirements or constraints without incurring costly charges for customisations that may need to be reapplied with each upgrade.
- Agility, flexibility and extensibility. A custom solution can evolve and change as the customer’s business needs evolve and change.
- Ease of integration. Custom development is not proprietary and therefore does not inhibit integration needs. Integration is customisation. Any customisation of a COTS product usually needs to be re-applied or re-developed for each upgrade. Having to continuously upgrade to meet support agreement requirements becomes an expensive exercise.
- Solution robustness. CSA’s quality assured delivery process ensures the solution has the highest probability for success and user acceptance. Our solutions are delivered with a 90 day warranty as standard. Longer periods can be negotiated.
- Supplier/developer robustness. CSA is focused on maintaining a long-term relationship with our customers. We are not tied to the success of a product or group of products. We are, however, tied to the success of the solution and our customers.
- Various pricing models. Outright purchase, enterprise license, site license and hosted are just some of the models that can be considered.
- Various intellectual property (IP) models. All designed to minimise risk to the customer. Eg Escrow agreements, Source Code supply etc
The global software development scoreboard is dismal. Consider these facts from Software Engineering Australia (SEA):
- Prices/Costs for comparable applications can vary by a factor of 15:1.
- 32% of projects are cancelled before they deliver anything.
- Approximately two thirds of every software project undertaken goes over budget in terms of time and cost.
- The average project cost blowout is 87%.
- Each hour spent on quality-assurance activities such as design reviews saves from 3 to 10 hours in downstream costs.
- A requirements defect that is left undetected until construction or maintenance will cost 50 to 200 times as much to fix as it would have cost to fix at requirements time.
- More generally, a defect that isn’t detected upstream (during requirements or design) will cost from 10 to 100 times as much to fix downstream (during testing) as it would have cost to fix at its origin. The further from its origin that a defect is detected, the more it will cost to fix.
These facts occur because software development is a creative process that happens between the user (i.e. the client), the analyst and the developer – and unless the delivery process is managed in a structured way it is all too easy for this creative development to spiral out of control and not deliver on expectations.
It is for these reasons that CSA adopts a structured software development delivery methodology based on the Capability Maturity Model - Software (CMM/SW), elements of Rapid Development teachings and the Zachman Framework for Enterprise Architecture.
Our team of business / systems analysts, certified software engineers and project managers have been developing, delivering and supporting software applications since the company’s inception back in 1986. We generally stick to a linear, waterfall-like approach which we have found provides the most rapid development schedule. For the majority of developments we initially conduct a scoping session, the outcome of which is:
- a scope document that defines the terms of reference for the project
- a fixed price for requirements gathering, and
- an estimate for the total solution.
A fixed price for the solution is made once the requirements analysis has been completed. For more information regarding our development methodology refer to “Software Development @ CSA”.
Microsoft Technology Platform
We utilise industry standard technologies such as .Net, VB.NET, ASP.NET, XML, SQL, Exchange, SharePoint, Linux, DotNetNuke and others. Our engineers are degree qualified and industry certified. Significant ongoing investment is made to maintain and increase the skill sets of our people.