4 February 2014

5 Signs Your Business Needs Custom Software

Sometimes it can feel like huge corporations have all the advantages. But if you’re a small- to medium-sized business, you can give yourself a competitive boost with technology. In fact, investing in custom software development might help you solve a tricky business problem, boost your productivity or create an entirely new revenue stream. How do you know if it’s time to invest in development? Here are five sure signs:

1) You’re afraid technology is leaving your business behind.

You’re a successful business or organization that offers a lot of value to your customers. But, increasingly, you’re worried that you’re not keeping up with the times. Maybe you’re not active in the digital places where your customers spend time. Or you’re just not making it as easy for people to do business with you as you could.

Those are big hints it might be time to talk with an app development team. We helped Enjoy the Arts, an organization that introduces young people to Cincinnati’s vibrant art scene, reinvent arts engagement for the tech generation. For years, the group issued paper coupons to its members. Now Enjoy the Arts engages millennials by allowing them to claim free ticket through an online visual dashboard on their laptops or smartphones.

2) You’re running an entire department from one over-burdened spreadsheet.

You’re the king (or queen) of Excel. Right now you’re running an entire department or division from one spreadsheet laden with just the right cells, numbers, and formulas. But, be honest, how much time do you spend maintaining it? And does it really tell you everything you need to know? As quickly as you need to know it?

Imagine that whole spreadsheet turned into an automated Web app: A piece of custom software that gave you a clear visual picture of all your key business metrics in real-time. It allowed individual team members to update results and see them, too. You could spend less time jockeying with Excel and more time analyzing, planning and acting.

3) Your current software causes you as many headaches as solutions.

Maybe you bought an off-the-shelf piece of software, but it just isn’t nearly as whiz-bang as the sales person promised. Maybe it’s so hard to use that your staff abandoned it all together. Or maybe you’re limping along with some custom-built tools that need to grow and change to meet your current business needs.

You might feel stuck, but investing in development can help you move forward quickly. We worked with Lumbee Enterprises, which specializes in quality control for the automotive manufacturing industry, to overhaul a legacy web-based software application that runs the entire business. It took just 12 weeks to make significant improvements to a system that follows every single project from kick-off to status reports to the final invoice.

4) You spend a ton of time on an admin task that you can’t seem to automate.

It’s the bane of your work life. Every month you find yourself spending days typing data into a spreadsheet or otherwise manually completing a somewhat rote business task. You’re pretty sure there should be a better way to complete this never-ending pile of work, but you can’t seem to find it.

Often, a custom app can make these to-do list items virtually disappear, improving your productivity and even profits over the long term. Here’s just one example: We worked with IPC, an independent purchasing cooperative owned by SUBWAY® franchisees, to create a custom web-based software application that manages the creation of more than 182 million SUBWAY® spending/gifting cards each year. It allows them to accomplish in two days what used to take 12.

5) You see a way to solve a common and recurring problem for your clients.

If you’re a consultant or small business owner, you probably spend a lot of time working with clients one-on-one to solve problems. And you’ve probably thought about how much more money you could make by cloning yourself. Well, we’ve only heard of that magic with sheep, but you can scale your knowledge—and business—by investing in custom software.

We helped one manufacturing business consultant, for example, create a Web app called BizOpEx that’s basically a virtual consultant. For another client, we helped upgrade an application called TraceRisk that helps community banks across the country manage risk with one consistent, proven methodology. What could you scale for you customer base? And potentially create a whole new revenue stream?

If any of these situations sound familiar, stop by our free office hours to chat or drop us a note at hello@gaslight.co

Heads up! This article may make reference to the Gaslight team—that's still us! We go by Launch Scout now, this article was just written before we re-introduced ourselves. Find out more here.

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