Bespoke Software? I don't even know her!

So what is bespoke software? Well, it's software that's written specifically for your individual needs.

So when John is carefully cataloguing cartoon cats he decides to store specific details such as artists, dates, publication histories and graphic styles. He starts off putting all the images in a folder and then listing the cats on a spreadsheet with all the details on the rows. This quickly gets cumbersome and fiddly.

Bespoke software can provide an easy interface for him to browse through all the cartoons and add comments and associations between them. Garfield is orange, so is Heathcliff, let's associate them with the "both Orange" link. Suddenly navigating his collection is easy.

John realizes that he's spending hours just looking through the pictures and assigning them to the right group. The solution? Software to pattern match against existing known cartoons and predict the group. It's like facial recognition for felines. Oh, that one's Top Cat, put it in the Cats with Hats group.

Why get bespoke software?

'I don't need to automatically sort images of cats; everything I need to do I can do on my standard Office software.'

Yes, that's probably true; most people don't need cat recognition and most of the time the off the shelf software does a good job of handling common day to day activities. This is because most day to day activities in the business world are pretty generic. However, that's not to say you don't need bespoke software.

Bespoke software can speed up your daily tasks by automating the routine elements unique to your business processes. This leaves you more time to get on with the important task of generating wealth.

Bespoke software can reduce errors, omissions, and accidental duplication by validating data entry, prompting for required information and standardizing the capturing and reporting of data.

Bespoke software is actually pretty nifty.

Do I need bespoke software?

'How can I tell if I would get enough benefit from a bespoke software solution to justify the cost?'

Well, the best way is to look at the way your current business processes flow. Many small businesses handle a lot of their data on spreadsheets. In fact, pretty much anything can be done on a standard spreadsheet. They get used for task lists, invoices, sales reports, profit calculations, stock control, customer management and timesheets.

The trouble is that this can end up getting a little tangled and you end up with a system that takes five minutes to add a new order in a fiddly sheet with too many columns. Occasionally a formula gets accidentally deleted or copying from a word processor messes up all the formatting and it takes half a day to straighten it out. If this happens in your company, you could probably do with something more elegant which solves these issues. This may be a whole bespoke software solution or it may be a little widget that helps you use the tools you already have in a more efficient way.

Bespoke software is a key component of process improvement that, used correctly, can make your company more efficient, more reliable and ultimately, more profitable.


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