One of the most frequent questions that I hear as a custom software developer is a straightforward one:
"When does custom software become the next step after my current solution does not cut it anymore?"
Many business owners start their business using a set of Excel files. They continue to use them as the business grows. A single Excel files can have multiple sheets of data, such as products sold, leads to call, quotes sent out to customers, and much more.
It is difficult to get this solution to work efficiently and cohesively. For instance, when you create a quote, it would be more efficient to have the capability to pull-up the list of products straight from a central, organized list of products. When it comes to making calls about the quote, it would be more effective if you could record those calls and document them appropriately. When the order needs to be invoiced, it would save the user time if they could create, print, and send the invoice,and then add the new invoice to your accounts receivable reports with a single mouse-click
When a business owner finds that their Excel sheets are too confusing and time-consuming, often the most appropriate next step is to use a software application that can do all these tasks. A business will be faced with two choices at this point; opt for an off-the-shelf solution or hire a custom software company to design an application.
There are some off-the-shelf solutions that can adequately solve some of the above issues. QuickBooks is one example, but it is inflexible. Business owners run into road blocks if their business operates differently than off-the-shelf software, such as QuickBooks, was designed to handle. At that point, you find yourself launched into a half-software, half-spreadsheet scenario that often creates more confusion.
With that said, it makes sense to think that most business owners would turn to the custom software route immediately. The most common reason for not doing that is a custom software solution can be a large investment. However, the time that a custom software solution saves, the mistakes it prevents, and the extra information it provides, enables a business owner to make more money; it is a solid investment that almost always has a strong ROI attached to it.
So if, you are a business owner trying to cope with too many Excel files and feel like activities such as Sales Tracking and Invoicing have gotten a little out of control, give serious consideration to a customized software solution, whether it comes out-of-a-box or from the creative minds of custom software developers.