The first issue is that software is a cost center, and ROI to shoot for is some sort of increased efficiency. Regardless of how efficient it brings in customers, tracks inventory or creates slide decks for presentations, you have to have it to compete, so it all comes down to how well the system works.
The good news is that publicly licensed software allows businesses to think about starting their software roll out with the finishing touches. Carrying a General Public License or other Open Source License is the most important part because, it’s usually available at no cost.
If getting it for free isn’t enough of a cost savings, then stick with me for another moment.
Custom software is usually the best way to get a system that works exactly like your business model dictates, but the costs grow exponentially. The more complex the system, the more it’s going to cost to build. But it doesn’t end there, I usually recommend my clients assume an extra 30-50% above and beyond the initial construction phase for tweaks, bug tracking and resolution. If you start with a lower cost, then your 30-50% is also going to be a much smaller number.
In some cases fixing a bug in the system could also be free if it’s submitted to the software’s development team. It might take a little longer for resolution, but it’s hard to argue with free if your budget is tight.
With a little research it’s usually possible to find finished software suites that are close enough to meet the business’ requirements and development can begin where a custom solution would just be finishing up. A good software developer can even combine functions that may not have been designed together to create a truly custom solution.
The library of software that’s publicly licensed these days is vast and a business that wants to go this route should start the research process by outlining what functions the software must have. I also advise they look at what might happen in phase two of the roll-out and to consider what flexibility they’ll have to modify the system to adapt to changes in the business environment. A good plan and a shopping list of features goes a long way to making this process successful.