Every business that decides to use a computer with which to conduct business has to make some basic decisions on how to make best use of that technology. Should we use commercial software or do we need a specialized, custom program? Can we get effective software without spending huge amounts for it? Once we get the software we need, can we find the support we need to make full use of it?
Development Process - Involvement of the customer in the software design process is an integral part of successful custom-programming efforts. Overall design, modular components, sequential implementation, level of training, etc. are all issues to be agreed upon prior to the initiation of a project.
Process Organization - Custom software is often best accepted into the workplace when it automates the same routine that has previously been used in the office. However, there are some situations where the software will make a new approach effective in a manner the old system never could. Both approaches need to be considered.
Documentation and Source Code - At one time it seemed like the truly valuable component of computerization was the program that managed the data. But, with the passage of time the relative value of the program, versus your data, has shifted. The old adage that the customer should insist on receiving documented source code is no longer important as it once was. However, if a customer wishes to have documented source code, it will be provided, with the understanding that the extra hours necessary to produce the code will be charged to the customer.
Comprehensiveness of the Custom Software - If your word processor, spreadsheet program, or log book for that matter, is adequate to the task, there may be no reason to incorporate those functions into your software. Similarly, if different persons in the office do different separate functions, it may not make sense to develop one program that contains all operations. It may be better to simply share data and have different program modules available to them that are specific to their endeavors.
Training - Training on the software is also an integral part of the entire process. Although, the software should - to a degree - self-train by being user friendly and containing on-line help; nevertheless, nothing can replace the effectiveness of personal contact.
If you believe that custom programming is in your design picture, please contact us. We will consider whether your project appears to be practical for us to accomplish, and one that can be done at reasonable cost and time frame. If so, we will schedule an initial visit, to meet with you and any representatives that are involved for input. We do not charge for the evaluation meeting.
After this evaluation meeting, we will a make a development plan and estimate costs. We will do our best to give you an accurate assessment of what is involved both in time and money, but we cannot guarantee that there won't be overages on either of these.
Second, having heard the cost and time estimate, and having the realization that this is only a good-faith estimate, you must decide whether to commission the work or not. You can cancel the project at any stage; the only obligation will be to pay for the hours actually spent on the project up to that point. You also decide on frequency of reports on progress. We also recommend that the project be implemented incrementally. Staff can get used to portions of the new system, one step at a time.
Costs - Custom Programming is done on a by-the-hour basis. Our charge for any hourly work that does not involve over-night travel is currently $50.00/hour.
As opposed to using a huge program to run a little shop, at Scott Office Solutions, we strive to tailor our products for the needs of small businesses. It makes little sense to develop software that has features, options, and bells and whistles that will never be used in your shop. That is not value-added software; it is a poor match between your business needs and the program.
Nearly every business has data that must be stored and retrieved as needed. Databases are generally the most efficient tool to organize and retrieve this information. Databases have the ability to search vast volumes of data and quickly present the results. A good database program can efficiently present information related to the task at hand, and manage other data in the background.
As important as your program may be in managing your business information, it nevertheless is secondary to the importance of the data itself. As much as software engineers would wish it to be otherwise, your data is the most important aspect of your business record system. Programs may be retired or adapted, but the data remains intact and vital to the operation of your business.
Next to database programs, the next most probable computer related business need is a presence on the Internet. Increasingly, consumers use the Internet to shop and explore product and service options. The ideal Internet site is one that gives the customer access to the service desired, and does so efficiently.
And, database and Internet programs are even more useful if they communicate. That communication may not need to be more than the capacity of the database program to be able to 'read' email and process the information.
Scott Office Solutions custom programs look and feel the way you expect, and follow the procedures and sequence of events that you employ in your business.
Scott Office Solutions custom programs are flexible and can adapt to your ever-changing environment.
Scott Office Solutions custom programs free your employees from the nonproductive time it takes to force-fit off-the-shelf software to your setting.
Scott Office Solutions customers receive prompt and personal quality technical support that you don't receive with off-the-shelf programs.
Although custom programming is not cheap, it can prove to be an inexpensive value for your investment.
Small developer vs. major company.
One of the perceived risks of using a small developer of software is that company can go out of business, the developer may retire or pass away, etc. But protection from that type of risk comes at a price - literally! The small developer's product will cost less, and will more easily adapt to your needs and expectations.
One recommendation to minimize the risk of using a small developer is to build small modular programs that function independently of each other; but that share the same store of data. The smaller programs mean that if some aspect of your operation needs to be modified, only that one program needs to be modified; the rest of your system still is operational. This lessons the risk both in development, and in maintenance.
A computer is just a machine that can do nothing by itself.
It has to be told by software what to do and when to do it.
It is people who analyze what needs to be done and then instruct the computer by entering
instructions into the computer to create software.
Much software, commonly called off-the-shelf software, exists that you can buy at a store. With off-the-shelf software, you have to adapt to the features in the program. Off-the-shelf software generally contains many features that you may never use since the manufacturer included those extra features to accommodate as wide a range of customers as possible. You pay for features you may not want. Most people use only about 20% of the features of their word processing or other types of applications. On the other hand, there may be some features you may want in the software that aren't there. The advantage of off-the-shelf software results from manufacturer's design of a product that can sell as many units as possible. Consequently, off-the-shelf packages are relatively inexpensive.
When a need for software is too specialized, it must be customized. Custom software is designed by a software engineer to your exact specifications; you have total control of what the software will do.