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How to build a spaceship: engineering advantage with bespoke software

Caught between off-the-shelf and black-box outsourcing, businesses face tradeoffs when building bespoke software. Explore CID’s engineered advantage approach.

Great achievements start with simple ideas. One clear goal. Take the Apollo 11 space mission, launching Neil Armstrong and co. into the great unknown. It started with someone, somewhere, asking: what if we put a person on the moon?

Developing bespoke software should have the same clarity of vision. We want to do X. From that starting point, planning, resourcing and strategy can take shape in order to achieve that vision.

But it doesn’t always work that way.

Failure to launch

The current choices for software development mean businesses face major compromises:

Buy something off-the-shelf. It might technically work, but any idea worth its salt relies on differentiation; which is a pipeline with a generic purchase. Because off-the-shelf really means the-same-software-as-everyone-else. And NASA certainly didn’t reach the moon by buying a rocket from the rocket shop. Additionally, the more specialised your business is, the higher the chance that there isn’t even an off-the-shelf option to choose from.

Staff your projects with contractors or freelancers. You end up carrying the burden of managing and steering these external software resources; telling them where to go and what to do. And as great as your idea might be, software may not sit at the heart of your business, so this responsibility introduces substantial risk. Once the project concludes, all of their experience and skills simply walk out the door.

Outsource bespoke software development to a third party. These external consultancies either implement their own plans, pushing the project further away from your original vision, or build a black box that you own – without understanding its inner workings. Both of these approaches create risk, and once more the end of the project leaves a vacuum of technical expertise.

In between these options is a space we call the Advantage Gap. It’s there that singular, powerful ideas can be realised through a better approach to bespoke software development that can take it into orbit.

And that’s where CID has been operating for decades.

Explore bespoke software development

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Software lift off

Working to a methodology we call Advantage Engineering, our ethos is to take the software and delivery expertise typically retained within third party experts, and bring the process as close to our clients as possible.

We combine our specialist knowledge in bespoke software development with our clients’ experience and expertise. That allows us to work in deep collaboration, with all the vital context and understanding in place, to deliver against your vision. And that ethos isn’t just used for the project’s duration, but to enable us to share our knowledge, setting our clients up for ongoing, future success.

The result is software that is:

  • Unique. Each project we tackle is approached as a blank canvas. Only by working alongside – and learning from – a business and its stakeholders can we deliver a truly one-off result, tailored for the organisation and its goals.
  • Goal-orientated. NASA didn’t ask their engineers to ‘build a rocket’. Instead they focused on the specifics: the design, fuel, astronauts, takeoff, reentry and more. We are detail-oriented in much the same way, focusing on specific processes and targeted goals to create software that delivers what off-the-shelf never could.
  • Stack-specific. Our blank canvas approach extends to the technologies we use. Each business has its own unique tech stack, and so we look to iterate on and improve those technologies in our work as much as possible. New additions are only introduced where they will deliver real, competitive advantage.
  • Cutting-edge. We work in software development because we love exploring and applying technology. If cutting-edge technology is available and beneficial for reaching your goals, we have the expertise to make it work.
  • Future-proof. Our hybrid, collaborative approach ensures that we upskill and train your teams as we work alongside them. For every project, our goal is to leave behind the knowledge and processes to enable lasting impact and slick operations for the business in question. If we finish a project and they still have questions about longer-term operation and management – something’s gone wrong.

If you’re holding onto a great idea but you’re unsure how to deliver it, our approach to software development gives you the right partnership to make it a reality.

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