Oh, hey guys! After last week’s post, it’s nice to see you’ve safely reached my blog today!
Well, I talked a few weeks ago about what ASI does and who we are and promised you more. And I ALWAYS deliver on my promises! (Just like ASI does! Hehe, Trever tells me I should be a salesman. But I much prefer CFO. More treats. And naps.)
Anyway, I thought today we’d dive into another activity we like to help out with, which is custom software! Don’t worry; I didn’t know what that was either. But I’ve done a little, erm, digging for you. Not in Trever’s mom’s garden, don’t worry! Well, at least not this time…
SO. What is custom software? Well, it’s the opposite of Commercial Off-The-Shelf Software, or COTS. Most of us use COTS on a daily, if not sometimes hourly, basis. For example, do you use Microsoft Word? Google Mail? Something called ZOOM that Trever now spends a lot of time on? I can’t complain about this one. I get to see my office buddies on it! It’s great! Welp, those are all examples of off-the-shelf software. We all get essentially one version of it, and it works pretty well for most people – and dogs! And that’s why it’s made – to fit as many customers as possible.
But what happens if the general version DOESN’T do everything you need it to? That’s where custom software comes in! Like, this one time, we helped a warehouse out. Their inventory system wasn’t talking to their order system. So we fixed it and made them get along! Now it’s one smooth process! OR this other time, when these people had to do a lot of manual steps to enter something into their advertising system, we made it so the computer did a lot of the work for them! It sure was great. And a lot more accurate and efficient!
Custom software can be as simple as a bridge between two current systems, and as complex as the launch system to a rocket. It’s essentially software built for a specific company, or for some requirement that isn’t intended to be mass marketed. And it just might be tailored specifically to that business, and not really useful to anyone else. But I guess if you make the code reusable and broad enough, that custom software could potentially become off the shelf software!
I talked to the guys, and they really like doing this kind of stuff, because I guess it’s like solving a puzzle. It all starts when a new customer has a problem – we all get together (or sometimes now we use that Zoom I was talking about) and they demo their current system and what problem they’re running into and what they would like fixed. And then we go through, investigate whatever software they’re using, and see what we can or can’t do – see if we can make a viable fix. It’s a whole fact-finding investigation! What’s the system, what’s it running on, what code is it, does their company have API we can use, and is it something we’ll have to build or something we can tweak? I know I said we were like James Bond last time, but, uh, I guess we’re also like Sherlock Holmes.
Once we know how we want to fix things, we prove out our concept. We take baby steps and test new changes. Can we communicate with their database? Can we communicate with the other database? Can we get data back? Once we have the data, can we manipulate it? IF we can manipulate it, can we tweak data and get it back to them? All sorts of fun things. Like I said, a giant puzzle. And we don’t stop until it works exactly the way you need it to – fully custom!
YOU GUYS! It’s like that show Fixer Upper! You take an off the market (shelf) house (software) and do some custom rearranging – tear it all apart and rebuild, OR pull down walls, add in code, you know, the usual. And by the end, it does just what you need it to! Now if only Fixer Upper would take a look at my doghouse…
If we can solve this puzzle, it usually makes things THOUSANDS of times easier for the people we’re helping out. And that’s what we like to do best! Custom software development is important because it helps meet unique requirements, but still be cost-efficient. And while there are more and more people out there that know how to code, WE come from a business background, and know what questions to ask to make sure our customers get what they need, not just what they want. We’re pretty cool that way.
Well, that’s it for now. I gotta go play in the leaves before they get covered in snow! You guys, I may have the ZOOMIES!!! YAY!