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The world is changing: can your software keep up?

Software developed with a project mindset can suffer from inertia. Here, we explore the power of shifting to a longer-term product mindset.

Every industry exists in a state of perpetual motion. And for most, software – either bespoke or off-the-shelf – simply can’t keep up. But there is one way to build powerful, future-proofed software solutions: by not focusing on the software development itself.

Businesses live or die through competitive advantage. How reactive is your customer support? How reliable are your logistics? Is your user experience intelligent and seamless? And does your software support you as you grow and scale?

If you’re using software to chase that competitive advantage then bespoke is the only real option, as we’ve explored in our previous post. But using a specialist consultancy to create a tailored solution not only means relinquishing control of your vision but also being tied to a project-minded approach to software development.

This project-based remit means you risk having to face a number of considerations. The reason behind this is simple: the focus on the software itself is the wrong way to go about successfully building it.

The three common – and impactful – problems from project-based software work are:

  • The business-critical software you build will be outdated and redundant in a few short years. As customer needs, industry standards and new strategies inevitably emerge, your software will fall behind the curve.
  • Cloud-native and sensitive information-hosting software will need years of updates for operations and security. So good luck ensuring these vital aspects are covered by yourself.
  • Most importantly, your business will look very different in five years time – and so will its needs. Whether you scale, specialise or pivot, your solution will still reflect the time period when you built it.

Product outcomes, not software delivery

In order to deliver lasting software impact, the approach and emphasis of building it needs to change. Rather than focus on the project, focus on the product.

Why? Because a product is targeted at outcomes, results and business value – software is just the means for delivering that. And a product also means a focus on consumers and end users; for now and for the future, as it inherently comes with a product lifecycle in mind.

Keeping this product focus is crucial in our Advantage Engineering approach to bespoke software development. In practice, this manifests in several important ways:

  • We build with a foundation of contextual collaboration. Meaning we design and implement solutions by using the expertise of our clients about their business, industries and what they need to succeed. It’s vital to us that we learn and absorb our client’s knowledge; the result is a solution that has longer-term continuity and a tailored fit as standard.
  • We move in tandem with your internal teams, upskilling and educating them. Outsourcing software development shouldn’t mean handing over control, it should mean bringing expertise into your business. Which is why our approach is based on working as closely as possible with our customers’ teams, in a structured recipe for success of standards, procedures and an agile operating model. It means that every update, system and technology is owned and understood by them just as much as ourselves, so iterating and managing the software in the future can be done with confidence.
  • We bake updates and iteration pathways into our technology choices. The technology we develop doesn’t just have to be good: it needs to fit with the business and their goals that we are working with. A major part of this is using technology that offers flexibility and continuity in its development, with the capacity to handle future-minded capabilities, such as AI, cloud-native systems and modern, decentralised data stacks. Just as important is then ensuring that clients are equipped to take full advantage of their technology as they continue independently.

Explore bespoke software development

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Assessing your future-readiness

As a resource, we’ve put together a shortlist of important questions to ask about your current software and how it meets your plans for the future. Using these, you can begin to form a picture of how well equipped your software is to grow and evolve, alongside your business:

  • Is your software aligned to your goals as a business?
  • Is your stack easy to manage in-house?
  • Does your software support your business growth and help deal with uncertainties?
  • Do you have access to the engineering talent needed to iterate and develop your stack?
  • Are you making the most of technologies like data mesh, AI/ML and the private cloud?

There isn’t a deeply technical formula to learn for successful bespoke software success. Above all else, it’s about taking a long-term product viewpoint on its development, rather than seeing it as a stand-alone project. Then all that’s left is partnering with someone who shares that viewpoint.

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