Most people are unaware how far the cost of software has dropped in recent years. There still seems to be a perception from the days of mainframes when it would cost a few thousand pounds to generate a new report. We all know how much cheaper it is to create a spreadsheet but the cost of programming has almost dropped as much.
Also, a bespoke application will provide a much better solution and be more efficient. So after a few months a bespoke solution can actually cost less than a spreadsheet.
Why use bespoke software
To be successful, an organisation needs a competitive advantage. It needs to do something differently and better. This will be constrained by off the shelf software. There are many opportunities from creative use of processes and customer interfacing. Organisations do not become great by following everybody else.
Spreadsheets will normally be the best way to provide a one-off solution but they are not convenient. For any application that has to be run regularly they are inefficient. The staff costs in using a spreadsheet will be higher that with tailored apps. In the long term, a bespoke solution will almost always be better value.
Also, while your staff are developing spreadsheets, they aren’t doing their main job.
Why has the cost dropped so much?
There are a number of reasons, including:
- Modern programming languages like PHP are much more efficient than older languages like Cobol and Basic
- SQL databases enable data tables to be created and modified in minutes rather than days.
- Manipulation of data typically only takes a few lines of SQL
- PCs and development tools
- Better techniques, object orientation haa slashed debugging times.
- Programmers’ wages have not kept pace with inflation.
There’s a chilling perspective here. In the 1970s I had to add some fields to a database and change the length of the main key field. It took a team of programmers six months. A similar exercise last year took about 3 hours.