Blog Feature

By: Jennifer Devitt on June 14th, 2015

Ownership is a key factor to keep in mind when considering custom development or programming services.

When it comes to programming and web development, companies have many options. Business owners can choose to do it themselves, outsource it, work with a development company or partner with a firm. Another consideration is, do you want to go custom or utilize a boxed solution. One question we get asked a lot is "why custom"? Let's talk about some of the reasons you may want to consider custom development for your projects.


When you choose to have your website, application or software developed from scratch or as a "custom" project you are focusing your time and resources strictly on what you need versus removing all the extra fluff. When you spend time with a custom developer, planning out the specifications of your project you don't have to waste time deciding which preset features you want to remove or alter. With a custom developed solution, you get only what you need and you get to focus on having it developed in the way that works best for your company not everyone else who came before you.


One key aspect of custom development is ownership rights. Another question we field from most all potential clients is who owns not only my website or software but who owns the code. When you hire a developer or development company to build your site or system you should always discuss ownership rights up front and get them in writing. If you are contracting a developer to develop something specifically for you, based on your ideas and specifications you should have sole ownership of that product once it is completed and paid for in full. Businesses should be leery of working with development shops that "rent" licenses to utilize CMS (Content Management Systems), databases or e-commerce systems/shopping carts as part of their fees. What happens if your developer disappears or goes out of business or you have a dispute? Think you can just move your site to a new host and move on? Think again. With developer license agreements, most often you do not own the site or the code. If you break your contract and no longer pay the required fee you need to go out find a new developer and have a new site created.


When you work with a custom development team like SYDCON you will typically receive a very detailed quote. For instance, when we provide a quote we list very specifically all of the components and systems we will develop. We will provide a total cost and describe payment terms, which will include initial deposits and payments installments as the project progresses as well as detailed information on final payment and transfer of files and ownership. While a custom development shop quote might be initially higher than a shop that utilizes boxed systems with monthly hosting and licensing requirements you need to consider your long-term costs. If you decide on a company that has a monthly or yearly licensing fee in addition to your initial development fees, that can add up over time. Not to mention, that if you decide you are not happy with customer support or service, you cannot just move your site.  It is best to calculate long-term licensing and hosting fees in addition to the initial quote.


It is imperative to make sure that your firm has total ownership of your domain. If you have a falling out with a developer or your developer suddenly goes AWOL, you will be locked out of your site with no hope of getting it back. Make sure that the domain is in your companies name versus your developer. If a developer insists that you must host with them, consider that a red flag. If you ever want to go in another direction or make additions or changes the developer is not capable of you cannot take your current site with you.


Many companies are talked into a boxed solution only to find out that they need to add onto it or that they require additional functionality. Not all developers are created alike and some may not have the capabilities to edit or alter the system. Often times making changes to boxed solutions to provide advanced functionality will endure more costs than just building the entire application from scratch. Take the time to discuss with your developer the hourly costs of making adjustments to existing systems should your needs change or if you ever want to enhance your system with additional functionality.


In short, when you are considering a development project it is best to try to consider all the options you currently want your system to have as well as any future needs you may be considering in additional phases. Ask all potential developers about making custom enhancements to a pre-made or boxed solution. Be sure to cover all questions regarding ownership rights. Ask who owns the code and graphics that are created. Ask what happens once the project is complete, are there any licensing fees or requirements to consider if you ever want to utilize a different developer or host. And, don't just ask these questions, get the answers in writing as part of your contract. Take the time to talk with several developers. If you think that custom development is too expensive, take the time to discuss your needs with a custom developer it may be more cost-effective than you think. When are you only paying for what you need versus an inflated pre-made system that has more options than you could ever imagine, why pay for them?  



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