Competitive edge for the manufacturing industry – six steps for purchasing software development

It's easier to buy software development if you consider a few things from the start. We've put together six practical steps to make the software buying process easier for your company.

Purchasing tailored software can benefit a company in myriad ways: added competitive edge, reduced work time, lower costs, and more. When ready-made commercial software doesn’t meet company-specific needs, or they lack the flexibility of being adapted to a company’s processes, it may be prudent to consider systems or software tailored specifically for your business. For a first-timer, purchasing software development may seem daunting, but it’s no rocket science by any means. Things will go smoother when you give some thought to a few things from the off. To make purchasing software development a little easier for any company, we compiled a list of six practical steps for the process.


Step 1: Consider your goals carefully


The possibilities afforded by tailored software are nearly endless. It’s important to recognise challenges of the highest priority and start the conversation from there. If delimiting the challenges proves too difficult, it may be helpful to consult an external partner at this early stage already. A business partner familiar with the field can bring alternate viewpoints to the conversation, and thinking about the challenges together makes it possible to allocate resources efficiently from the start.

If you’re able to summarise the challenge and the goal into only a few sentences, you’ve already succeeded in having been able to visualise and delimit the scenario. This is an excellent steppingstone for the software developer to grasp the issue(s) you’re facing. Getting a project off the ground is easier when the development house is already familiar with the particular industry’s usage environment. The required software can then be brought to life as a fully tailored solution for a particular use case. Software like this can also be easily expanded and modified as needed.

It’s also a good idea to consider if the software project will affect other on-going programmes or initiatives within the organisation.


Step 2: Map out all the other systems used in your business


Before starting on the road to design new software, software developers will also be interested in systems that your company already employs. It’s advisable to take stock of what purpose do existing systems serve, what data they contain, and who uses the systems and the data therein.

Industrial companies often collect data via sensors and metering instruments, and this data should always be leveraged for the betterment of the company’s business and processes. In some cases, a company already has all the data they need, but formatting or access issues render the data unusable as is.

A worthy software development partner can also evaluate if the needs of your company can be met by simply improving or modifying existing systems. Knowledge of existing systems is also important in order to verify communication between different pieces of software. This enables the new system to be developed from the ground up to be compatible with the company’s other systems.


Step 3: Set up a schedule for the project


Does the project need to be completed by a specific date? Is there a critical deadline that will affect other aspects of the business? Software is often developed using agile methods; features can be developed in priority order, in two-week cycles for instance. After each cycle, the client receives a working system that contains some of the features of the completed system. This way, any issues discovered during development can be reacted to in a timely manner. If need be, the direction of the project can be altered, or the project can even be terminated if continuing it proves to be impractical.

When scheduling a project, it’s a good idea to consider what functionalities of the system or software have to be completed by the deadline. This ensures that all parties are aware of the project’s central goals and focus points from the very beginning.


Step 4: Determine the budget and resources


Any project needs a budget, and establishing how much can be allocated is crucial. The company should also map out its internal human resources and if some of them can take part in the software development process. These can be User Interface Designers, Graphics Artists, or any other appropriate staff. If your team possesses technical know-how and there are people who can contribute to the development, you can save on some of the costs incurred from purchasing all of the work from outside your organisation.

The beginning of a project also calls for appointing a liaison (or several) to handle communications between your organisation and the software company. These people need to have authority to approve different stages in the project and to set up priorities when needed. End-users also need to participate in the project as early as possible. Successful implementation of systems relies heavily on end-users’ needs having been taken into account from the start.

You should also consider how your company’s processes will work after development has been completed. Make sure your company has the capabilities for post-development technical maintenance. Lacking this, look to having access to a business partner that is able to provide efficient and reliable maintenance and DevOps services.


Step 5: Map out alternative solutions too


Having a solution proposal already in mind is always a good jumping off point, but before any plans are locked down, alternative solutions to a problem should also be looked at. A vendor familiar with your field and the manufacturing industry has likely come across similar problems before and may therefore be able to suggest other ways of tackling a given conundrum. A worthy software development partner knows to put forward the right questions when conversing with a client. The right questions can bring about creative solutions that not only solve the problem but also bring new added value to a client’s business. Solution proposals often arise while a project is being worked on as the software house learns more about the client and as experts of given fields leverage and apply their skillsets.


Step 6: Invest in communication


When it comes to choosing a software development partner, you should pick one that is easy to communicate with and who has a genuine desire to understand your needs. Above all, software development is about co-operation, and it demands commitment from all parties. A successful project requires a lot of frequent and recurring communication as well as meetings for brainstorming ideas and keeping everyone on the same page. This is to ensure that development is focussed on the right things and no erroneous assumptions are made. Clear lines of communication with your partner company save both time and money.

Setting up meetings for when development is active is also recommended. Aside from regular meetings, real-time communication solutions that fit both parties should be agreed upon. This way, smaller enquiries can be answered as swiftly as possible.

Of course, we’re not saying that purchasing tailored software is easy, but following the above steps should at least make things a little bit easier. Careful planning from the start and regular dialogue will pay themselves back. It all ensures the execution of a successful and user-oriented software product.






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