Bespoke business software development
Database developments can take several months. Here are some of the steps that we will go through together:
1. Firstly, we have an initial meeting to discuss and explore your situation and your requirements. This normally takes between two and three hours. If it’s helpful, we can bring a questionnaire in order to formalise our thoughts.
The idea is to put down on paper some of the following:
- company processes
- daily tasks of key staff
- existing computer systems and their uses
- screen sizes, both in the office and out on the road
- personnel – who does what
- methods of working day-to-day
- anything else that comes up
Get in contact with us today for more information. Call 01934 7822651 or 07940 514351
2. Usually at this stage we will draw up a detailed specification document. This is sometimes a quite technical document, although its intricacies can easily be explained. Elements will include:
- an entity relationship diagram
- proposed file structure
- field definition tables
- user list, complete with permission levels for each user
- access privileges
- security requirements
- required scripts and routines
- existing and desired user interface outlines
- import and export of existing data requirements
- requirements for printed reports
The document will also contain a schedule of works and include any transfer of existing data from old systems to your new database.
We will also detail any staff training that will be required. This might include documentation, ongoing support and upgrades.
3. We will oversee the development of your new system. At all stages we will feed back to you exactly what is going on and what is happening next. When your involvement is required (which it will be, a lot!), you’ll be given lots of notice. You won’t need a dedicated project manager or IT department.
4. Here are some of the aspects to a new system that are quite common. Requirements may include:
- a big improvement on ‘the system’ you have now
- replacing paper/Word/spreadsheet and/or off-the-shelf software in place
- avoiding the need for work-arounds
- easier searching and finding of info (especially historical data)
- one current copy available to many
- automating/speeding up everyday tasks and regular reports
- integration of departments, processes, sites and so on
- relevant and unique features reflecting the way you work
- savings on time, mistakes and hassles
- Increased security
5. Often where we will begin will be obvious to all! In practical terms this means we will deliver something within a short space of time (a week or so) that will bring you maximum changes to yield the best efficiency possible. We will aim our work at your priorities as they exist. For instance, if keeping track of your job details is your main priority, will create a simple database to start with that replaces this potential bottleneck.
This starting point will probably act as a germinating zone for other ideas. We often hear requests like:
- I need a separate field for a description category
- I want to see more rows of data here
- I need more space for my description
- Can I upload a picture against this piece of data?
- Where is the most efficient way for me to store contact details
- Can the system show addresses on this page too?
All development on your database system will go at your speed and will progress as you use it, at the speed at which you want to use it, and as your budget allows!
We are in constant communication, with feedback both ways being absolutely key to the success of the project!
Your role in software development
6. Although it’s difficult to generalise, we find we often work closely with three groups in most organisations (or at least, those that are a size greater than absolutely tiny!):
- Users. Those who know what needs to be done and the people who need their daily workflows managing most of all. These are the coalface workers, if you will; satisfying their requirements is key to the long-term acceptance of your new bespoke software.
- Supervisors or Heads of Department. These people supervise the daily tasks and typically need overviews, reports and insist on the free and easy dissemination of information between departments.
- Directors or senior management. These are the people who control the budget and have overall responsibility over the organisation.
7. We like to become part of your team! In an ideal world, we come and spend as much time as we can with you. That means we will actually be writing code while in your workspace. This we find, opens channels of communication, builds relationships and creates a more relevant and efficient brief. It also ensures that the bespoke software is rolled out and implemented effectively.
Comments and feedback from staff can be incorporated as the project progresses rather than being allowed to become a major revision.
Of course, as staff are involved with the bespoke database from its very inception, there is usually a positive expectation and eagerness to change working methods on behalf – people ‘buy in’, in short!
8. Finally the new system is signed off delight reigns supreme!
9. A word about payments. These are based upon time taken.
a. Before we begin, we jointly we agree a credit limit (like you do with your customers and suppliers). We invoice you when that limit is reached, you pay us, we continue.
b. An amortised fixed monthly standing order. You get a discounted rate for paying upfront. We get on with steadily developing your database at your agreed pace/budget.
The majority of examples on this site cost £3,000 and 5,000. Perhaps a one in three invest as much again over the ensuing few years by adding new features. A few invest constantly in saving time and effort and automating procedures.
10. You end up with a bespoke tailor-made solution that fits perfectly. You will totally own it and have full access codes. No ongoing rental or annual fees to pay.
11. Those numbers again? 01934 782651 or 07940 514351.