If All Software is the Same How Can a Developer Be Different | Modest Dev

If we have heard it once, we’ve heard it a million times: “We don’t need custom software. All software for small business is essentially the same.” On the one hand, knowing what we know about off-the-shelf software makes such sentiments hard to argue with. On the other hand, Modest is different because we do software for small businesses differently.

The Every website recently published a fascinating piece about how software companies develop and sell their products. It is an exceptionally long read but well worth it if you want to understand a bit more about the world of software development. The article’s premise is that “every software business has the same playbook.” Its author eventually reaches the conclusion that software companies need to find a way to distinguish themselves despite the fact that their competitors use the same playbook.

Not Exclusive to Software

Every piece makes some particularly good points about software development. But most of its points are not exclusive to companies that produce software for small business. Having a single industry playbook to work with is nearly universal in modern business. You can see it in manufacturing, construction, healthcare, and on and on.

So why do companies stick with an established playbook? Because doing so works. You find out how another company makes money, and you copy it. That is the American way. But when it comes to software development, sticking to the traditional playbook isn’t necessarily the best way to meet customer needs.

For the record, there are four steps described in the software development playbook offered by the Every article:

  1. Developing a point solution.
  2. Adding new products to that solution.
  3. Transitioning from products to a platform.
  4. Turning around and starting at step 1 again.

Relying on this playbook requires anticipating how business processes will be accomplished several years down the road. But guess what you end up with? Generic software that forces companies to adjust their processes accordingly. We think there is a better way.

Giving Companies What They Need Now

It is not absolutely necessary that a software developer follow the traditional playbook. In fact, there is good reason to adopt an entirely new playbook. That reason is rooted in giving companies what they need now. If you can do that, you can gain and keep customers based on your own abilities to develop business software rather than copying everyone else and hoping for the best.

It should be noted that a software company can develop custom software for small businesses using the traditional playbook. But in order to complete the four steps, there needs to be a certain level of anticipation about future business processes. That inevitably leads to less customization for the here and now.

You are essentially working with a hybrid model that doesn’t offer full customization but also doesn’t throw customization out the window altogether. We suspect such an approach would not be very helpful to a brand’s long-term growth strategies.

All Business Software Isn’t the Same

The reality is that all business software isn’t the same. While it is true that a lot of businesses use the same software, it’s also true that companies like Modest build custom software on a per-customer basis. Our software for small business is customized to align with client processes rather than forcing the client to align with our assumptions of what they do.

If you are of the mind that all business software is the same, we challenge you to think again. Most software developers might follow the same playbook, but some of us choose to do things differently.

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