If you’re in business today, there’s a good chance you already have a network infrastructure, servers and core business applications that handle the bulk of your computing needs. You have a support organization that keeps things running and up to date. You depend on this computing environment to support mission critical business operations.
Some businesses may even use tools like Microsoft Office to extend their core applications’ capabilities. The ability to leverage your computing technology is important to your business’s success. One way to better leverage your technology investment is to develop custom applications that improve upon the central functionality of your core application suite.
What if you could take smaller, manual tasks or some of the data you now manage with Office products and automate them so that you can capture and use operational data to improve your business processes, lower cost and improve quality? Take a look at the QuickBooks accounting package sometime. There are numerous add-on applications developed that integrate directly with QuickBooks core business accounting function to extend its effectiveness. Compare this same scenario to your core business applications. There are probably a dozen enhancements you can think of offhand that would improve the core application’s functionality for your business. In the past, a high cost might have deterred you from considering engaging an applications development firm to develop these ‘add-ons’ or to automate those Office functions you now do manually. If the cost far exceeded the return, it probably didn’t make sense. But things have changed in recent years. Driven by speed to market demands, new tools and processes are available to build applications quickly, more collaboratively and at dramatically lower cost.
With today’s new toolsets and improved processes, developing new custom applications doesn’t need to be the tedious, long, risky and costly activity it once was. By leveraging Agile programming methodologies, firms can use tools from companies like DevExpress to build complex applications in a fraction of the time it used to take. Working closely with the customer/business analyst, the programmer/application architect can drag and drop objects into a working prototype during their discussion. The tools can create screens, build databases, and establish data relationships in a matter of minutes. Because the programmer/application architect is building a working application prototype, the customer/business analyst can provide immediate feedback, add enhancements, make corrections and customize the new application interactively. The programmer/application architect can provide technical guidance and experience from building other applications as feedback. This level of dynamic application development can now add a new dimension to your business application portfolio.
Whether you decide to build internal or external applications, speed to market is important. It gives you a reputation for innovation. It gives you an opportunity to dominate a market. And most importantly, it gives you a competitive advantage. You will be perceived as a leader, not a follower. With today’s new tools and processes, even small businesses can realize the business advantage of custom application development. Check it out – before your competition beats you to it!