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Don't Do It!

Ted Kriwiel

I've persuaded more people not to build custom software than to build it. There are so many great off-the-shelf tools that can transform the way you do business. Only when they fall short does custom software make sense.

Three Questions You Should Ask Before Building Custom Software

1. Could I fix this problem with another software?

If you are using a spreadsheet process or are trying to manage multiple projects at once, a tool like Asana or Trello could be a great way to organize your team and streamline your process. These project management tools are like a swiss army knife for processes inside a company.

2. Could we link tools together to make the process smoother?

Sometimes, the software you use works, but it doesn't integrate nicely with other tools in your company. Consider using a tool like Zapier or IFTTT to move data between tools. I like to think of Zapier as the duct tape of the internet.

3. Could we build a solution in a no-code builder?

No code and low-code solutions have come remarkably far in a short time. Tools like Bubble, Knack, and Retool allow non-coders to build drag-and-drop databases and interfaces to customize the flow of their process completely.

A blend of all of these approaches can give a company a few more years before they need to build a custom solution. A major benefit of using these tools, is that this will force companies to refine their process, which makes people happier in the short term and increases the chance of success for future custom software development.

Each of these approaches has limitations. Zapier primarily moves data in rows but not in bulk. Asana and Trello can be used for anything, but infinite flexibility often tangles people up. And with no-code tools, even though they don’t require a developer, someone still has to learn how database relationships work, how they relate to user interfaces, and how to design software that's easy to use for a team. Those skills take time and effort to learn, even without learning to code.

When we start new custom software projects, the best-case scenario for us is when customers have taken some of these steps to refine their process. When off-the-shelf solutions fall flat, we know it's time to build custom software that really sings.

Learn how we can help. It starts with one small step.