Custom Software Apps & SharePoint Consulting

Software Selection and Available Product Offerings

In this software selection series, I have covered how to assess the need for custom software in addition to business drivers. In this third post, I’d like to spend some time covering how to answer a specific question. What percentage of my needs are addressed by available product offerings?

It can be a very obvious choice to go for an off-the-shelf product. You don’t need to hire or manage a custom software team. In addition, the costs for a software product that already exists are often more clear.

Custom software projects can stretch out over many months or even years. Depending on the quality of your team, the end product may not even be what you bargained for.

Existing Software Platforms

Software selection: connectorsBuying an existing product is no guarantee that you are purchasing all the functionality that your business requires. In the illustration to the right, you can see an example of a platform. This platform provides the baseline of functionality, with applications and a portal bolted on.

Many customers come to Entrance and say, “We’re spending $100,000 a year on SharePoint and we’re getting no ROI. What gives?”

What we tell them is that SharePoint only provides the toolbox. Your company needs to be prepared to make the further investment in customization and workflow in order to prove out the true business value of this platform.

The same is the case for many platforms. Before you make the investment in expensive software tools like these, a team that understands your business needs, budget, and resources should make a full evaluation.

When Software is Too Much

By the same token, there will also be times when a given software tool is way overpowered for your company or department’s needs. In this case, it would be a waste of money and resources to buy SAP if only one report was needed.

Doing a full evaluation of the available products in the market for your industry will help your company to see where a simpler option might fit the need very well. This will save your team and the IT staff the time for and money for investing where a larger business problem exists.

For more on the process of software selection, check out this case study for an oil and gas services company!


Nate Richards
Nate has over 18 years of software engineering and consulting experience. He founded Entrance in 2003. Nate is the past President of the Board of LifeHouse Houston, a Christ-centered maternity home ministry, and is past Executive committee member and Treasurer of Houston Achievement Place, a foster care and social skills training non-profit organization.
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