Choosing Your Vendor – Defining Software Development Choices

Posted on: June 1st, 2012 - Written by: John Blomberg

Software Development

How do you choose what type of technology resources you need?

Defining the difference between software development vendors.

The type of technology vendor you choose is totally dependent on your needs. The skills, knowledge and experience across these groups are different – or more accurately – specialized and mean that generally these groups are not interchangeable.

Here are some easy qualifiers:

  • If you are tying several purchased products together, odds are that you need a systems integrator.
  • If your implementation is all Microsoft products and platforms, look for a good Microsoft partner. Most choose to focus in specific competencies so be aware of the acronyms attached to their partner logo.
  • If you are in a specific industry (generally large industry sectors) and need to implement systems that are built specifically for that industry, you should seek out specialty services technology consultants.
  • If you’re trying to apply specific functionality to a business process in a program or application that just doesn’t seem to exist, it may be that you should find a custom development group.


Systems Integrator:

Abbreviated as SI, an individual or company that specializes in building computing systems for clients by combining hardware and software products from multiple vendors. Using a systems integrator, a company can align cheaper, pre-configured components and off-the-shelf software to meet key business goals, instead of making more expensive customizations to software packages. Creation of these computing systems may include designing or building a customized architecture or application, integrating it with new or existing hardware, packaged and custom software, and communications infrastructure. Many systems integrators work in specialized areas, such as SAP installations or upgrades, and offer customizations in their individual areas of focus.

Unlike software developers, systems integrators typically do not produce any original code. Instead they enable a company to use off-the-shelf hardware and software packages to meet the company’s computing needs.

Microsoft Partner:

A software consulting group that has formed an alliance with Microsoft and creates an exclusive bond in which the company commits to become knowledgeable, skilled and certified with Microsoft products in order to promote, install and implement solutions for clients. While knowledge of other platforms and systems is possessed by these partners, their focus, concentration and recognition is centric to Microsoft platforms and products.

Microsoft partners are closely aligned with Microsoft and are incented to focus their energies on Microsoft platforms and solutions so working with a Microsoft partner may not provide you with a perspective that is vendor neutral or unbiased.

Microsoft partners employ Microsoft certified developers to execute on projects that are often architected and designed by Microsoft Most Valuable Professional. Systems integrators and custom application developers also find tremendous value in employing developers with Microsoft certification because of the prevalence of Microsoft technology in today’s business technology environment.

Specialty Services:

Consulting or development firms that define themselves as specialty services focus their efforts in a specific technology area. They are considered expert in all aspects, challenges, needs and benefits of a particular industry’s technologies. Most often these industry areas have very unique needs that may only be satisfied by very narrowly focused software development and integration. These firms may have systems integrators and custom software developers on their teams as well as Microsoft certified resources that may be required to integrate narrowly focused software with more mainstream packages such as accounting, payroll or CRM.

Custom Software Developer:

Let’s begin by defining Custom software.

Custom software is specially developed for some specific organization or user. Since custom software is developed for a single customer it can accommodate that customer’s particular preferences and expectations, often for critical functions or needs that existing (Commercial Off-the-Shelf COTS) software packages cannot fulfill. Custom software can be developed by an in-house software development group, or be outsourced to a software developer or software development group.

Custom software development is often considered expensive compared to off-the-shelf solutions or products. However, this is an invalid comparison since COTS software addresses typical challenges with typical solutions. Not only can custom development take place quickly, the savings in efficiencies and improvements in business processes produced by it far exceed the investment in it.

Custom Software Developer / Development Group:

Therefore, the custom software developer or development group is one that is versed in the nuances of the most prevalent platforms, operating systems, languages and programs in order to bring together the best available functionality and compatibility for the specific needs of each project. In order to bring these components together successfully, development process, project management and project analysis skills and knowledge are required.  Because the development of custom software is driven by specific business needs, custom software developers and development groups must also be knowledgeable of the processes that enable businesses to operate and understand the relationship that technology has with getting results. A software developer and custom software developer are not one in the same. The custom aspect of these development needs requires broad and deep knowledge and most likely must be addressed by a team that includes skills in multiple technology, business project management and analysis areas.

Truly adept Custom Software Development Groups are rare since such a deep and diverse span of knowledge is required.

INSite Business Solutions is proud of its complement of components that fulfill the needs of true custom application development, help customers reduce risk of project failure (which is common within software development) and implement custom products that are catalysts to gaining a competitive edge in their markets.



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