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In: Website Development

What is Custom Software Development?

Custom software development is the process of designing and building customized, unique software applications. When developing custom software, the company’s focus is on creating software that is highly specialized and different from anything currently on the market.

Many different companies specialize in software development, but not all have experience with custom projects. Custom software can be anything from a mobile application, to a desktop insurance platform, to a robot scuttling around a warehouse – and everything in between!

Development of something new and innovative requires a lot of collaboration and out-of-the-box thinking, but it also helps a company to stand out. Businesses from all different kinds of industries turn to custom software development to generate more revenue, reduce frustrating limitations, and crush the competition.

What is the alternative?

It’s true that every software product today was once just an idea brainstormed in a garage, sketched on a whiteboard, or scribbled on a cocktail napkin. Every software application started somewhere and aimed to solve a specific problem.

Many companies are actually successfully able to find off-the-shelf software to fulfill their needs. Off-the-shelf software is great for businesses that require solutions to common problems.

Examples of popular off-the-shelf software products include Adobe Photoshop, Intuit QuickBooks, and Salesforce. These meet the usual needs for photo editing, accounting, and sales management for a wide variety of businesses.

Custom software development is the answer to those types of software applications. A company that needs something that doesn’t currently exist can benefit from a custom software application.

How does custom software development work?

Custom software development starts with an idea and transforms it into a tangible software product that delivers business results. While it can often seem like the developers are working some serious magic behind the scenes, the process itself is pretty straightforward.

The Software Development Life Cycle

Custom software development follows the typical software development life cycle. The software development life cycle (SDLC) is a well-defined process that aims to provide quality software quickly and efficiently. There are different models of the software development life cycle – Geneca is an example of a company that prefers to follow the Agile methodology for custom software project delivery.

In this method, a software development company would work through the following phases for each product feature simultaneously. For example, your software development team might be inventing Feature 3, while building Feature 2, and confirming Feature 1.


In the invention stage of software development, business stakeholders are key in gathering data. This is where the business would outline their needs for the feature. What should it do? How should it work? The software development team makes suggestions here for what would work best and how the system architecture should work to meet current and future goals.


In the design phase, your software development team will write the business requirements for the feature. This documentation is basically a translation of what you want into what the developers need to know to create it. Depending on the software development company, the business might also review and approve these before the next phase of the project.

03   BUILD

For the build phase, the requirements documents are turned over to the developers and the coding begins. This is the part of the project where your product begins to take shape. The development teams creates the structures necessary to store your data and starts making working software.


Once the feature is built, the software development team will test it in the confirmation stage of the project. They will confirm that the feature works as expected and according to the business requirements created in earlier stages.


This project stage is where the company gets to explore the feature. Typically, the software development team will give a demo to the business stakeholders and get their input on the finished feature. In some cases, you might also participate in user acceptance testing (UAT) where you get to test the functionality yourself.


In this phase of the project, it’s time to push the feature into the production environment. This is the place where end users get to access the product. Once all features are deployed, your project is finished and your product is ready to go – and start delivering results!

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What are some examples of custom software?

You’re probably familiar with some common examples of off-the-shelf business software like Shopify, Marketo, and Slack. However, you might be surprised to learn that you’ve likely heard of many instances of custom software as well.

Food Delivery

Over the course of the past year, a lot of Americans have spent a significant amount of time at home. Whether you were fortunate enough to be able to work from home, or you didn’t have much to do anymore when your shift ended, it was especially tempting to treat yourself to something good like delivery from your favorite restaurant.

In fact, the pandemic more than doubled business for food delivery apps like DoorDash, Uber Eats, and GrubHub. And it turns out that these are great examples of custom software! Branded to meet a need and change an industry, food delivery apps have transformed the restaurant industry in recent years.

Video Streaming

Long gone are the days when you’d find a Blockbuster packed with people on any given Friday night – or even find a Blockbuster at all. Even video rental companies that managed to survive the Netflix era, like Family Video, have recently announced their intent to close.

Not only is Netflix a testament to the speed of changing technology, but it’s also a well-known example of custom software. And like with many cases of great custom software, it has inspired similar instances and propelled lasting change.

House Hunting

If you have ever bought, rented, or sold a home, it’s likely that you are familiar with a handful of different custom applications that streamline that process. Companies like Zillow and Redfin have successfully created custom software that appeals to a broad audience – anyone that needs a place to live.

In response, many financial institutions have done the same. Mortgage lenders benefit from creating applications that simplify the complex home buying process and required data to convince consumers to go with them.

Goods & Services

No matter your company offers, there is success in investing in software development projects with a goal to improve the customer experience. Branded mobile applications, scheduling systems, ecommerce services, POS management applications, inventory management systems, and fulfillment management solutions help to make it faster, easier, and even fun for customers to get what they need.

Retailers of all sizes have discovered the merit in rolling out their own custom software to use data to build unbeatable experiences for their customers.

Filing Taxes

Once we reach adulthood in America, it’s not long before many of us must become familiar with a company that offers tax preparation services. Companies like H&R Block and Intuit TurboTax have built complex yet user-friendly software that gathers data and spits out a tax return.

Financial management services like these usually benefit tremendously from custom software that is able to streamline data collection and make complicated topics easy to digest for mass audiences.

These applications are great examples of the power of custom software development to create opportunities for growth and evolution over time. As you use custom software for a while, you will likely see a host of new, fun features that improve your experience.

And when you build your own custom software, you have the freedom to make changes that consistently improve your company’s application, too.

Do I need custom software?

It’s true that many well-known examples of custom software have achieved such recognition due to their industry impact. But custom software also creates lasting impact for businesses of all sizes, especially when it comes to generating more revenue.

However, there’s no sense in reinventing the wheel, which is why there are so many examples of software designed by successful companies and used across various industries. When it comes to software, it’s all about finding the right fit – for you, for your users, for your business, and for your future goals.

Best Industries for Custom Software Development

The great thing about custom software development is just that – it’s custom! Made exclusively with your needs in mind, custom software is used in virtually all industries. Digital transformation has become an expectation for consumers in their daily interactions with all sort of different businesses.

So, in which industries does it make the most sense for a company to invest in custom software? Custom software development is useful for any company that can’t find what they need or wants to pull ahead of the competition. However, there are some industries that are really changing recently and seeing benefits of custom software applications across the board.

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It’s no secret that this past year has brought a host of unexpected changes to the healthcare industry. The pandemic pushed providers and patients to adopt new ways of delivering and receiving healthcare.

Telehealth and other virtual solutions have never been more important. And now that we’ve seen the benefits, it’s sure to stick around. Custom software solutions can help introduce new technology into the space and tackle the current challenges of digital transformation in this space.


As the healthcare industry changes, insurance companies need to be prepared to keep up. Digital transformation is especially tricky for insurers. Business logic tends to be incredibly complex and software must remain flexible enough to adapt quickly.

As a result, many insurance companies find themselves using outdated legacy software or an overwhelming number of solutions. Custom software development helps insurers streamline complicated processes, save time, and better serve clients.


Financial technology, or FinTech, is transforming the financial services industry. This previously traditional industry is rife with opportunities for software to improve user experience and meet the demands of the 21st century consumer

Custom software helps financial services companies to appeal to digitally sophisticated consumers that have come to expect speed, convenience, and usability. With unique software, these companies can easily stand out from competitors that are slow to evolve.


The retail landscape has also changed substantially in the course of the last year. Customers are looking to get goods and services faster while also avoiding prolonged contact. This combination is perfect for technology like retail management solutions.

Even before the pandemic, retailers were recognizing the importance of connecting with customers in a variety of ways, propelling the concept of omnichannel retail. Custom software development helps retail companies engage and reward consumers, streamline back-office and warehouse operations, and easily pivot to accommodate shifts in the industry.


The odds are good that if your business is super specialized, it’s probably hard to find software that does exactly what you need. It’s likely that you can find pieces of what you need in other available software, but it consistently falls short or gets messy when trying to combine them.

And if you have a new, innovative idea for a business or a product, you’re probably hoping that what you need doesn’t exist yet! Custom software helps new companies in specialized industries to win the race to market and solve unique problems for their clients.

Is custom software right for me? A checklist.

As you’ve probably concluded, custom software development has advantageous applications across the board for a lot of different businesses in as many industries. So, how do you know if it’s right for YOU?

The fastest way is to reach out to a trusted custom software development services provider and simply ask! A knowledgeable consultant can often quickly steer you in the right direction after a brief conversation about your business.

Ask yourself the following 7 questions to see if you might benefit from custom software development:

  • Do I have a business problem that I want to fix, and nothing I’ve tried before has worked?
  • Have I considered software in the past but haven’t found anything that seems worth using?
  • Have I tried other software and it didn’t work out (no one liked using it, it was too costly, or it didn’t do what I needed it to do)?
  • Can I think of at least one way that the software I use now could be better?
  • Am I worried about falling behind my competitors?
  • Do I have a cool business or product idea that I want to try?
  • Do I feel like I need a change, but I’m not sure what that change should be?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, that’s evidence that custom software development might be a great asset for your business. Here’s more information on the steps you can take to get started.

The fastest way is to reach out to a trusted custom software development services provider and simply ask! A knowledgeable consultant can often quickly steer you in the right direction after a brief conversation about your business.

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Can I afford custom software?

Yes! As consumers, we tend to associate anything ‘custom’ with being more expensive. When it comes to custom software development this is usually true…but it’s not as straightforward as it sounds.

The initial price tag of custom software development is definitely going to be higher than most off-the-shelf products you’re looking at (and if it’s not – run!). However, don’t let the sticker shock fool you. If you build the right software, you can actually make MORE money.

The potential for ROI is huge because you can avoid licensing, user, and upgrade fees. You can ensure that you’re never paying for features you don’t use. You can also work within your budget to evolve a custom product as you go so that it can continue to pay dividends over time as your business changes or needs to adapt.

Even small businesses or startups can afford custom software development. If you have the budget for software, it’s definitely worth exploring whether or not a custom development project would be a good option.

Who can do custom software development?

With custom development, the team is essentially building a product from scratch. Custom products are specific to an industry, company, and target audience.

While there are a lot of software development services providers out there, not all of them take on custom software projects. For a custom project, you need a software development company with the right skills that is willing to work closely with you to translate your ideas, needs, and goals into a tangible product.

A company with top notch developers sounds great, but how you define ‘top notch’ is critical when it comes to custom development.

When it comes to your software development team, you want developers that are knowledgeable not just about technology, but about current industry trends. In fact, finding a team with industry insight helps drive effective communication, which is essential when working with others to create something from nothing.

In addition to your developers, you want project managers that are excellent at providing transparency and clarification throughout the process. Believe it or not, the success of a custom software development project actually relies heavily on business stakeholders! Your ability to convey your ideas, deliver on commitments, and make decisions is paramount, and you want teammates that can support you in doing so.

Making an impact with custom software development

Custom software can seem overwhelming at first. Creating something totally new, dedicating time and budget, and finding the right help feels like a big undertaking. That’s especially true when you don’t get to demo the end product before you commit.

So, why would you want it?

In short because it’s worth it. Some of the most well-known and successful companies today got where they are with custom software. Software that is uniquely yours and created for exclusively for your business can be what sets you apart.

There are lots of ways that custom software can bring positive change to your business, but many fall into one of 3 categories.


Custom software can help you to improve your business in various ways. For instance, you can use software to optimize business processes, letting you serve more clients in a given time frame. It can also help to free up employee time and keep things running smoothly behind the scenes.

Technology changes fast, so to stay relevant in any space it’s good to be prepared to change with it. Custom software gives you the freedom to continue to improve parts of your business as you see fit in ways that you know will work for you.


The idea of software isn’t typically synonymous with creativity. However, going custom allows companies to be creative when it comes to running a business and solving problems. Instead of choosing from a buffet, you can make a meal from scratch – with ingredients from all over the world.

Custom software lets you not only find solutions to the problems that have been holding you back but gives you the right foundation to find solutions as problems arise and ensure that those new issues are few and far between.


Just as technology is always evolving, so are consumers. Whether you’re a B2B or B2C business, you need to be ready to meet the expectations of your customers. Businesses with custom software have a major advantage because they are poised to shape those expectations – and they can impact an entire industry.

Custom software gives you the flexibility to design with the future in mind. You can innovate new and evolve existing software to offer things that your competitors can’t, and your customers will never want to live without.

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Do you want to change your business and maybe even the future of your industry? Reach out to Geneca and we can help find the right solution for you.