Principles for Software Customization

Scaling a Software Solution to a Business Problem


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1. Never pay to program what you can buy off the shelf.

To say "there is no need to re-invent the wheel" is to invoke a cliché, but oftentimes, buyers of customized software fail to consider importing their existing data into up-to-date shrink-wrapped applications that can offer most of the features missing from their older software.

It's quite common for small businesses to have large amounts of crucial business data in older applications like Q&A or in WordPerfect merge files or in well-designed but limited contact managers like Symantec's ACT. The computer world moves so fast that it's hard to keep up with all the changes, but if your competition is keeping up, you need to as well.

Chances are, your competition is using some combination of customized software for data management in combination with off-the-shelf programs like Microsoft Word for producing documents. Large organizations probably also use professional mailing houses for the largest scale promotional projects.

Where should you make your choices?

First, you need to carefully consider whether you need to upgrade at all.

Yes - that's right.

Is it better to maintain your old system, or are there major benefits to be gained from moving on to a newer system?

The only way to answer that question is to have a firm idea of your needs, and carefully consider whether or not your current solution is sufficient for you to remain profitable.

You will also need to know what's available. That's where David Fenton Associates comes in.


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©1997-2000, David Fenton Associates. Last updated July 5, 2000.