How (And When) Custom Apps Can Improve Productivity

How (And When) Custom Apps Can Improve Productivity

Does your business need a custom app, or can off-the-shelf solutions serve the same purpose? 

At Blue Stingray, we provide full custom cloud solutions, enabling enterprises to take full control over the software they use to work. We can also develop custom API connectors for existing systems, or build custom implementations of ERPs like Odoo. 

If your business is evaluating software solutions to address productivity or scalability issues, we’re ready to help. Here’s a brief overview of the advantages and disadvantages of custom apps. 

To discuss your business’s unique requirements, send us a message


When a Custom App Makes Sense for Your Business

The obvious advantage of a fully custom app is the level of control: You’re creating software from the ground up, and the software will be perfectly tailored to your objectives and workflow (provided that you work with a knowledgeable developer). 

With the right approach, custom software can:

  • Allow for near-endless scalability.
  • Automate time-consuming manual work.
  • Provide more opportunities for customer engagement. 
  • Provide direct access to data, improving compatibility with other software as your business grows.

Just as importantly, the app won’t have anything you don’t need. Users won’t get lost in menus, and employees won’t need to learn a new way to work.

Of course, there’s a downside — custom apps are more expensive than pre-built solutions, and they require ongoing maintenance. Those costs aren’t necessarily disqualifying, even for small businesses, but you should be aware of them. 

To understand how custom apps can solve problems, let’s take a quick look at a use case.

EJ Water’s Custom Cloud Billing App: A Use Case

In 2017, Blue Stingray began developing a custom cloud billing app for EJ Water Cooperative, Inc., a multi-county regional water system and utility cooperative. 

The cooperative’s legacy billing software was limited in functionality, and it was expensive thanks to ongoing licensing, maintenance, and upgrade fees. It also required dedicated hardware, which made it unusable for many meter readers. 

To address those issues, Blue Stingray developed Flow, a custom app that supported EJ Water Coop’s unique objectives:

  • Flow has a responsive design and is usable on any type of device. 
  • The software allows for secure online payments, including ACH payments.
  • Customers can get simple breakdowns of their utility usage, while administrators can get more detailed information on outages, service responses, signups, and more.
  • Administrative users can apply different contact services, charges, surcharges, and other variables. 

Over the past 7 years, Blue Stingray has worked with EJ Water Coop to refine the app, creating new APIs for third-party consumption and connecting to other software to improve reporting capabilities. Maintenance was limited, and the app helped EJ Water Coop address customer needs efficiently.

For more details, read: Case Study: How a Cloud-Based Billing App Revolutionized a Growing Utility Company’s Workflow


When Are Custom Apps Overkill?

Even if you have highly specific requirements, you may be able to address your business’s needs by building a custom API connector or by automating work through ERP/e-commerce customization. 

Some quick examples of use cases: 

This approach can be less expensive — and if you’re working with well-supported products (such as Adobe Commerce or Odoo), you won’t have many limitations. Additionally, you won’t be leveraged to a certain development team; if you’re using popular software, you can find developers to make tweaks to your custom implementation. With custom software, switching development partners can be somewhat tedious. 


Questions to Ask Before Starting Custom App Development

Ultimately, custom apps work best for enterprises and niche businesses. To determine whether your business qualifies, ask questions:

  • What problems will the custom software solve, and are there use cases for an off-the-shelf solution to those problems? 
  • What are my requirements for the software? 
  • Am I prepared for long-term maintenance? Maintenance isn’t always expensive, but you’ll need to understand the ongoing costs.
  • Will the software need to communicate with ERPs, CRMs, or other software? 

Your development partner can help you answer those questions. At Blue Stingray, we make recommendations based on our analysis of each client’s unique needs — we don’t push for custom app development if we don’t believe that it’s the best option. 

Whether you require API solutions, a custom-built ERP, or a custom cloud app, we’ll help you find sustainable options that work for your business. Send us your project details to receive a proposal or call 314.266.8097 to speak with an expert.

“When we’ve faced challenging circumstances on some projects, Blue Stingray’s people have always remained positive, professional and flexible. We know that Blue Stingray is a company we can rely on for any of our projects.”

— Jason Kirkpatrick, Implementation Manager, Level One Technologies, Inc.
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