Knowing What Your Custom Business Software Needs
Modest’s development philosophy is fairly simple, and the largest component is the kind of developers we try to be. We are a team that emphasizes experience in hearing what people want, understanding what they need, and then building something that works better than they expected.
From a customer’s perspective, taking full advantage of the team’s capabilities is a function of that first step – of both you and us maximizing the information Modest gets from conversations with you about what you need and what you are trying to accomplish. The more we are able to learn, the more effective we are at building you a streamlined, effective piece of custom business software that lets you get your work done faster.
Don’t get us wrong - part of our job here is to apply our years of software production experience to your problem, and we are glad to help you work through the process. But we’ve found that a little bit of prep work goes a long way and we thought we’d talk a little about what we’ve learned about the best way to approach getting ready to communicate your exact needs.
Study your current process
Most of our clients already have software they use to run their businesses, but find it failed to scale as their business changed and are looking for something faster and with more functionality. If you’ve found us, it’s likely because you have a similar issue. Now it’s time to put that problem to work by examining it closer, mining it for ideas, and using what you learn to design a better tool that addresses your needs today.
At the most basic level, that means going through every aspect of how you are doing things already and noting every step of the process. And we mean every step; Modest is a custom shop, and that means you have an opportunity to get a piece of software that is tailor-fit in every way and is as automated and labor-saving as possible. The more we know about your process, the closer we can get to that ideal.
It might be that some of the notes you take don’t end up getting used, and that’s fine. Whether it ends up part of the final design or not, knowing more helps us have the context we need to do our work well.
Consider Every Input
Every program runs based on the information you feed it - whether that’s customer information, dates and times, experiment parameters, or some other kind of data. And the information relevant to your process might come from many sources. For instance, it’s common for us to see one process that talks to information from several sources; different programs, for instance, or a daisy chain of different spreadsheets.
When we make software, we try to bring all those data entry elements into one program, organized in a way that makes intuitive sense at a glance. We make sure imports work smoothly and manual data entry is easy and quick. We work with our clients so any information can be added smoothly in a way that doesn’t break the flow of what they are trying to do.
Define Your Dream Output
Just as with inputs, every software has an output - something it accomplishes for you that helps you with your work. Most programs have more than one - customer relationship management systems, for instance, output both current clients, lists of prospective clients, reports related to their needs, lists of tasks to be completed, and more. Every client’s perfect output is a little different, and a big part of our job is making sure the software gives them exactly what they need.
On your end, this means sitting down and considering what you want your software to do that you aren’t currently getting. Do you want more information in an easier-to-use format? Do you want richer data? Do you want more flexibility in your invoicing or better-customized template emails? Knowing exactly what you need gives us a clear goal to work towards.
On our end, this means helping you envision and realize the best possible result. We’ve worked with a huge variety of businesses with complex, varied needs and as a result, we are experts in not only fulfilling the stated needs but exceeding them by combining our knowledge of software design and user experience with client requests to make a sum greater than either component part.
Design the Perfect Workflow
Modest was founded on the idea that software is the fastest and easiest to use when it’s as simple as possible - when all the tools you need are within easy reach, and there are no tools you don’t need where you can grab them by mistake. Simple is quick, simple is easy to use, and simple helps you avoid errors.
Actually getting that idealized form simple is, well, less simple. For one, it takes direction. When we talk to you, we are going to be asking questions about how you work. We will ask how long you spend on each step, which points are the most or least painful, and which parts of the process are the most important. We might ask to see your work through various processes in the way you do them currently. We do all this so we can understand the workflow you want and get an idea of where your current workflow fails to attain it.
Refine Your Custom Business Software Idea With Us
As we said at the top of the article, we don’t expect you to do any of this alone. We recommend you get the best mental picture of what you want as you can, but we are available at every step of the process to help with your thinking. We want to take your best ideas and enhance them, and that means communicating, collaborating, and making sure our plans are in line with your desires every step of the way.
Again, don’t misunderstand — we will work with you from any point in this process. If you have a problem, we’re available to jump in and help you solve it. But if you want a clearer picture of what you are shooting for before our first meeting, these are the steps we recommend. And regardless of when we join the process, Modest is ready to build you a custom-fit, maximally useful way to optimize your work.
We look forward to helping you get started - see you soon!