Today organizations and individuals can pick and choose between different types of software to solve their problems, streamline operations, and simplify their lives.
But not all software is created equal!
New software solutions seem to be popping up every day and it’s hard to determine which is the best for your specific situation.
Some software providers cater to medium and large businesses, while others are better suited for solopreneurs or small businesses.
The largest players – full-fledged enterprises – usually require very specific solutions, and will get the most benefits from enterprise software.
Enterprise software is very different from other types of software, in terms of development and deployment.
This guide will explain enterprise software and enterprise software development in the context of how it can affect your business in a positive light, and how it’s different from other solutions out there. The aim is to explain the benefits of using enterprise solutions, give you an overview of the development process and some hints on choosing a good developer.
Enterprise Application Software Defined
Enterprise software is a broad term enveloping specific systems and solutions that solve the unique problems of an organization.
This type of software is large in its scope and is designed to be flexible enough to accommodate various user roles within an institution. A user’s role will determine which particular actions they are allowed to take within the framework of enterprise software.
Enterprise software differs from public software (i.e., software designed for individuals) but rather enterprises (organizations) such as corporations, governments, and schools to name but a few.
The keyword here is “enterprise” meaning large organizations rather than small to midsize ones.
Enterprise development usually caters to the largest and most complex institutions that require numerous functions and tools to be unified within such a system.
Often, enterprise software will have the following specific functions:
- Sales and marketing
- Customer Care
- Communication (internal & external)
- Productivity Measurements
- Customer Service Measurements
And it will also have specific tools such as:
- Business intelligence
- Enterprise resource planning
- Automated billing systems
- Content Management
- IT service management
- Call center support and CRM
Still, many enterprises out there still opt for standalone solutions for each of these functions and tools – they use SaaS solutions and argue they are good enough. To explain how this can be an issue, let’s define the two software options first.
Differences Between Enterprise Software & Software-as-a-Service
As far as enterprises are concerned, standard software solutions typically mean using Software-as-a-Service or SaaS software. Such software is rented rather than bought, is accessible via the internet, and offered to many organizations.
The biggest difference between enterprise and SaaS software:
- Enterprise software is developed specifically for an organization – it will perform functions specific to that organization’s needs and problems and will be a unique solution.
- SaaS software is developed for a host of individuals, groups, or businesses – this means that all kinds of businesses and enterprises work within the same database to perform their specific functions when they rent SaaS software.
Other significant differences between the two include the following:
- Enterprise Software: The enterprise owns the software and they can have it customized to suit their specific needs.
- Public Saas Software: Very limited – Whatever tools the SaaS software already contains is what the user will get.
- Enterprise Software: It can be developed and modified to perform all of the functions your organization needs.
- Public Saas Software: Can perform the functions it was developed to do. There isn’t an option to get additional functions or modify existing ones.
Reporting & Querying
- Enterprise Software: Data can be pulled and reformatted easily to provide reports and answer queries in ways specific to an organization’s current needs, usually with the help of third-party tools.
- Public Saas Software: The data and resources are divided between different users, so creating queries and reports is limited due to processing limitations.
Why Businesses Need Enterprise Application Software
26% of businesses who have been using digital software for some time are more profitable and have higher market valuations than their competitors.
Benefits of Enterprise Software
Aside from more profit, new tech can provide the following benefits for companies, especially those with a large number of employees and tasks to perform:
- Improved Data Security
- Increased Customer Interaction
- Saving Time (e.g., less repetitive tasks)
Enterprises that choose custom software development are generally much more satisfied with the outcome – they enjoy better efficiency of processes, increased collaboration and a better overview of all data.
Why Enterprise Software is the Better Option
Multifaceted Performance: Enterprise software can be designed to not only function at optimal levels pertaining to business-specific tasks but also across multiple platforms (i.e., desktop, tablets, mobile) utilized by a business.
Flexible Price/Cost: The cost of enterprise software is not fixed but can be negotiated according to an enterprise’s current and future needs and budget.
Security: With 63% of software security breaches coming from third-party integrations, enterprises who opt for enterprise software are in a good position to discuss extra security measures.
Scalability: Enterprise software architecture can be designed to accommodate both planned and sudden growth without the threat of experiencing periods of slow and poor performance.
Public and shared business software usually has limited scalability that can cost much more in the long run.
Cloud-Capabilities: While traditional enterprise software development takes place locally, software developers are increasingly building enterprise software in the cloud.
By doing so, the high-costs of physical data storage can be eliminated – one of the main drawbacks of purchasing and implementing custom-built enterprise software.
Platform as a Service (PaaS): PaaS or Platform-as-a-Service enables developers to code and deploy the solution faster and easier. PaaS provides a computing platform based on a hosted environment. The required hosting, maintenance and development hardware and software is handled by the PaaS vendor and not by the developers themselves.
How can Enterprise Software Development Help Your Business
So just how much can enterprise software make a difference? Quite a lot, actually.
If you’re using different systems that all work well, you still might be missing a centralized hub where you can cross-reference all data points.
This is exactly where enterprise solutions can help, and here’s how:
Enterprise application integration
Enterprise software integration or enterprise application integration (EAI) is the use of technologies that bring all the systems and apps of an enterprise together with the aim to get an automated system that’s interconnected.
However, trying to ‘patch and match’ new applications and tools into an already well-functioning system can sometimes be a disaster!
Compatibility issues are a common occurrence with standard public software, no matter how new it may be, because it was not originally designed keeping an individual enterprise’s resource software planning in mind.
One of the worst things a large company can do is to continuously purchase new software that has compatibility issues with their current software solutions.
This is sure to break your current business processes and diminish employee and customer satisfaction.
Only enterprise-developed software can be created to fully integrated into an organization’s entire digital ecosystem.
Through a process called enterprise resource planning (ERP) enterprise software can be designed right from the beginning to integrate with all facets of a business. This includes all the software applications that help operate, maintain, and manage various processes crucial to its survival,
The enterprise software system processes multiple data streams, messages, and requests at all times. It also stores this information so that a company can gain insights on productivity levels, customer behavior, and employee interactions, to name but a few.
Therefore, it is vital for the health of any business to plan their software integrations in advance so that they can be ready to meet all the challenges that future integrations may offer.
Enterprise software development can create bespoke software solutions right from the start, and further customize and upgrade it without the need to disrupt and change precious business processes when you need to add new applications to work with the existing ones
Legacy application modernization
Software is aging.
Businesses often continue to rely heavily on their tried and true ‘classic’ software applications for their day-to-day tasks, so they tend to want to keep them around for as long as possible as long as they can update them and run them free of ‘bugs’.
How to do this though?
If a company’s software was originally custom-built, then it can continue to be ‘modernized’ to reflect the current needs of the company.
Instead of purchasing new software and retraining employees to use new applications and new tools, or going through a confusing process of trying to migrate and integrate new technology into an already fine-tuned enterprise system.
In the end, enterprises need software that can change quickly.
They also need software that can be updated so that they do not have to continuously buy the latest and greatest software applications that may have some of the features they currently want but not all of the ones they originally needed.
Opting for enterprise software development is a surefire way to provide scalability and modernization of your software so that it continues to provide you with the features you need, supplies you with the new ones you want, and gives you and your organization hassle-free applications that keep both your employees and customers happy.
Enterprise Application Software Examples
The seven major areas of business that large companies and enterprises have today are governed by seven different types of enterprise software, so let’s cover each area briefly to see what enterprise solutions can do for you.
1. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
Enterprise Resource Planning usually consists of a platform of multiple software which integrates all the processes crucial to a business (finance, sales, marketing, procurement, etc…) into a single system.
The benefit of doing so include the following:
- Higher Productivity Levels
- Advanced Reporting
- Deeper Insights (processes, customers, employees, etc…)
- Agile and Flexible Data Processing
- Simplified IT Solutions
An ERP solution turns an enterprise into a finely-tuned organization that functions as a cohesive unit instead of various units with different agendas and goals.
2. Project Management Software
Enterprises must rely on project management solutions to keep up with everything that’s going on. Project management offers companies tools and techniques to help them accomplish projects in a timely and accurate manner.
Therefore, project management software would comprise of the tools portion, specifically the applications a company uses to hit project deadlines and keep all of the teams assigned to the different areas of a project moving in a single direction.
Some of its core features include:
- Team Collaboration
- File Sharing
- Calendar Sharing
- Task Scheduling
- Time & Expense Tracking
- Resource Scheduling
- Trend Analysis
We move to resource management.
3. Resource Management Software
To know the role resource management software can play in your business, you should first know what is meant by a ‘business resource’.
A business resource is basically anything that helps a business to complete a task. It can include people, facilities, or materials.
Resource management entails the effective allocation of resources to a task so that it gets completed on time without incurring additional costs or wasted efforts.
Resource management software is a solution that assists management in the planning and managing processes of resource allocation for specific tasks and projects.
A typical resource management software will include:
- Planning Functions
- Scheduling Functions
- Resource Availability Forecasts
- Resource Uncovering/Discovering
Accounting is basically unimaginable without good software nowadays.
4. Accounting & Billing Software
While the two areas of business pertaining to this type of software are usually intertwined within its overall processes and applications, it might be easier to understand its functions by splitting it up into its two aspects, namely accounting and billing.
The accounting portion of the software comprises of applications that help businesses manage and process accounting transactions.
The billing portion of the software comprises of programs that track products or services that are delivered to customers and also programs that track employee work hours (i.e., billable work hours).
The core features or modules contained in accounting and billing software include:
- Accounts Receivable
- Accounts Payable
- General Ledger
- Sales Order
- Purchase Order
The following modules can be added to the software to provide a complete accounting and billing solution:
- Business-Related Expenses
- Debt Collection
- Purchase Requests
- Financial Reports
Human resources in enterprise companies can benefit a lot from a well-tailored program.
5. Human Resources (HR) Software
HR software (human resource software) is specifically designed to automate many of the tasks performed by a business’s human resources department.
It can be designed to assist in the following areas:
- Employee Development
- Employee Communication
- Employee Retention
In short, it can be developed in such a way as to either fully-automate or semi-automate almost all of the manual tasks previously performed by the HR department.
By doing so, a company can enjoy the following benefits:
- Improved Employee Satisfaction Rates
- More Efficient HR Team
- Time/Money Savings (able to deploy HR staff to more relevant and important projects)
- Improved Regulatory Compliance
Procurement teams also need to keep their affairs well organized.
6. Procurement Software
For businesses, the term procurement means purchasing or obtaining an item or service that is vital for the functioning of the business.
Therefore, procurement software are programs or sets of programs that help to automate enterprise purchasing processes.
However, the software is not limited to just standard purchasing actions but can also be developed to include other areas of procurement, such as:
- Inventory Management
- Order Management
- Invoice Management
- Supplier Management
- Contract-Lifecycle Management
What is nice about procurement software is that it can easily be developed to ‘fit’ your ERP platform and so sync smoothly with your other enterprise software and hardware.
An enterprise-worthy procurement software would contain the ability to:
- Create purchase orders based on current needs.
- Verify purchase orders with suppliers.
- Submit pending purchase orders for approval or rejection.
- Confirm the most recent purchase orders.
- The ability to maintain adequate inventory levels.
- The ability to keep track of goods and services as they arrive.
- The ability to collect trend data and provide trend analysis to maximize profits.
- Automate electronic purchase order submissions.
And what about business intelligence?
7. Business Intelligence Software
Companies are always looking for ways to increase their bottom line. One way to improve profit margins is by collecting, storing, and analyzing data pertaining to their business.
Business intelligence software (BI software) can help immensely in this regard as its main functions are to collect, sort, consolidate, and analyze data and display it in small, coherent chunks so that profit potential areas and solutions can be uncovered quickly.
The major benefits of using BI software are the ability to:
- Accurately measure KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).
- Identify SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats).
- Review datasets more accurately.
- Use resources more effectively.
- Measure current business results against long-term company goals.
- Gain insights faster and therefore make quicker decisions.
- Simplify complex data so that solutions and possibilities become apparent.
- Create business intelligence protocols for all departments within an organization.
But how is the custom enterprise software organized?
Enterprise Software Architecture
Software architecture includes the major components of a software’s structure, the relationship between them, and how they specifically interact with one another.
In short: Enterprise software architecture is how you design the software solution and all the interactions between various software types and modules.
The main components constituting enterprise software architecture are as follows:
- Quality Attributes
- IT Environment
- Human Dynamics
- Business Strategy
The best architecture for your software choice is the one that conforms to your business’s principles, priorities, and goals.
There are some foundational factors that should be addressed when choosing software architecture.
Quality enterprise software should be scalable, perform well in all kinds of conditions, secure, cost-effective, and compatible with software and tools already in use within your organization.
Let’s take a look at exactly what each of these criteria means in more detail.
Scalable: The architecture you decide upon should not only be able to handle business growth but rapid and unexpected business growth or you will find yourself changing your entire enterprise platform every time your business moves forward.
High-Performance: Your software needs to be able to work efficiently and effectively in various conditions and on multiple platforms. This means that it should be compatible with desktop, laptop, tablet, and mobile devices and also function at satisfactory levels regardless of network strength.
Secure: Enterprise software architecture needs to be secure enough to eliminate breaches and leaks as such instances can literally halt business processes and cause major setbacks that can take time to correct if they can be corrected at all!
Cost-Effective: Not only should the initial cost of investing in enterprise software not break the bank but it should also justify expected future ROI through its use. This goes for maintenance costs as well so don’t forget to factor them in along with your initial investment cost.
Compatibility: The enterprise software architecture you choose should be flexible enough to integrate with your company’s other software and tools or else it might disrupt your daily tasks and processes and end up costing you more money and headaches than it is worth.
Given the conditions above, you will have multiple architecture scenarios from which to choose. Note that some of these were already mentioned earlier, now we will discuss them in relation to their architectural properties:
1. Cloud Storage:
With this type of architectural framework, there is no need to purchase or maintain servers and so its initial and ongoing costs are very low.
You can purchase only the necessary resources needed to maintain your enterprise software and later add or upgrade as you grow.
Most cloud storage vendors offer extremely high levels of security features for enterprises that need extra measures to keep their large and sensitive data safe.
One of the more recent benefits of cloud storage is providing remote access to telecommuters and remote workers, giving the much-demanded flexibility to the workforce.
This kind of structural framework is specifically geared for enterprise-related software because it is scalable, flexible, and performs under multifaceted network and platform conditions.
The only drawback of using microservices architecture is the need of a skilled and experienced developer as setting it up and maintaining it would be quite a challenge for a novice.
However, if you are working with a seasoned professional then microservices can be quite rewarding.
Some of the benefits of using this type of architecture include:
- Consistent User Experience (distributed service)
- Greater Software Availability (independent functional services)
- Flexibility (variety of tools)
- Fast Development (lower costs, shorter time to market)
Or, you can develop a PaaS software…
3. Platform as a Service (PaaS)
This structure is the preferred choice of many enterprise software developers. It gives them access to hardware and tools needed for development from any location as long as they have an internet connection.
Developers are able to not only develop enterprise software easily with this type of architecture but they also do not have to worry about hosting and maintaining any of the hardware, software, and tools to develop, test, and deploy enterprise software as the PaaS vendor takes care of these tasks for them.
The only two major drawbacks of using PaaS architecture is its high costs – when higher levels of services are needed – as well as limited control over hardware, development tools, hosting features, testing, and software deployment.
Still, such drawbacks are offset by the fact that developers need not worry about or spend their time on mundane and tedious tasks as PaaS takes care of most of that for them.
Developers are free to concentrate on what they do best – developing!
This software development language is probably the best one to use when building enterprise software.
It performs well under all conditions, operates quickly, and makes it easy for software users to utilize software applications.
- Easy To Maintain
- Easy To Update
- High-Quality Development Standards
So which one should you choose?
That is a question that only you can answer as you know what your business needs best.
However, you should let your company goals guide your software architecture decision.
Don’t just focus on functions alone but compare them with how they will help your business achieve its long-term goals.
If you base your decision on these factors, then you will be sure to pick an architecture that will work for your business for a long time to come.
Enterprise Software Development Process
Knowing what to look for in an enterprise software architecture is one thing, knowing what to expect during the development process is another.
Enterprise software development can either be a relatively smooth-sailing process or it can be an extremely complicated project. It all depends on if your developer understands what your enterprise needs.
These needs have to be understood not only at the level of software features and functions but more importantly how its functionality will enhance the company – productivity levels, employee work rate, and satisfaction levels, as well as customer experience.
Without this knowledge, your developer can not tailor your software applications to suit your company’s specific needs.
Be clear about what your company’s long-term goals and current needs are when discussing possible solutions with developers.
Explain to them that your software functionality needs to meet the demands of each department, listing out their specific tasks one by one, and how these tasks contribute to the overall goal of your business.
Below you will find the specific phases of enterprise software development along with some guidelines that will help the process move ahead more smoothly.
During this phase, you need to come up with a strategy outlining the applications that are needed and how they should enhance your business processes, the work lives of your employees, and customer satisfaction levels.
Set goals with specific KPIs so that you can measure whether or not the software is living up to expectations.
Give your strategy and metrics to your development team so that they can begin designing your software’s functionalities according to your plan.
The development team will begin to code that is in accordance with the requirements you gave them.
The UX (user experience) will be created in accordance.
Consideration of how the software’s applications will streamline the work processes of your employees will be given.
Minor testing will take place to check whether or not applications can be accessed and operated by users (employees).
The development team will begin to check for ‘bugs’.
Flexible upgrade options will be added to the software so it can be changed or modernized keeping in mind possible future demands in your market and industry.
Comprehensive modules are implemented during this stage to test source code, user experience, and documentation.
Multiple tests, consisting of various hypothetical situations are added to thoroughly check if the software is working in-line with your requirements.
Changes and tweaks are made to any area of the software that is not working according to your planned design.
You and your developer will agree upon a tentative deployment date once the both of you are satisfied with all the test results.
After deployment, timeframes will be set by you and your development team for further testing and updates in accordance with user feedback.
NOTE: It is very important to set specific deadlines with your developer for each stage listed above so that you can begin to use the software as soon as possible. Failure to do so will end up costing you more money and manpower.
While each enterprise development process will never look the same, there are some common end results that all of them must achieve. After deployment, the software should:
- Be able to collect, store, display, and analyze large amounts of data.
- Automate processes specific to the business.
- Be scalable to meet the demands of future growth, expected and unexpected.
- Be compatible with a company’s other software and tools.
- Have multi-functionality features that deal with all the aspects of a business, as well as allow room for future changes and upgrades to take place when needed.
What to Look For In An Enterprise Software Developer
With an estimated 2.3 million software developers scattered throughout the globe, finding a team to develop your enterprise software should not be a problem.
Finding the right team or agency, however, is another matter.
Remember, enterprise software requires custom-built development to truly offer all the benefits discussed within this guide. It’s definitely not a one-man job. You need a good company and team for such a big and custom solution.
That means your development team and company you choose to work with needs to be flexible and insightful enough to understand what it is your business requires from the software.
Before you choose a company to develop custom solutions that fit your company’s requirements, you should know that there are some basic criteria which they should meet before you hire them.
What exactly are those criteria?
You can apply the following guidelines to see if the development team is up for the task of building your customized enterprise software.
1. Referrals, Feedback & Case Studies
The first qualification metric you should apply when it comes to enterprise developers is how well they have done in the past.
Look to other organizations or people within your network who have had successful enterprise software developed before.
Finding developers who have helped other companies within your industry get their custom-built software up and running is a quick and easy method for choosing a qualified software developer for your project.
Honest feedback from third-party sources will really fast-track your selection process as you will not have to waste time learning what to look for in a qualified developer.
Software development companies who have worked on custom software before, particularly enterprise software, will have examples of past projects proving that they have the experience and the know-how to develop custom-built software and applications.
A case study of previous solutions proves that their development methods work across multiple businesses, verticals, and industries.
2. Coding Experience
Knowing the level of a developer’s coding skills is essential to developing quality applications. Your developer should know which coding standards you expect from them and likewise, they must be able to comply with those standards.
Some of the basic developer coding standards include:
- Limited Global Rules.
- Standard Headers (for separate modules)
- Using Naming conventions (multiple variables, functions, and constants)
- Proper Indentation
- Proper Error Return Values
- Proper Exception Handling Conventions
- Simple Coding Style
- Correct Identifiers
- Documented Coding
- Short Function Length
- No GOTO Statements
To learn more about each of these standards, you should read up on them.
3. Software Systems
Your development team must be versed in the software system – such as UNIX or Windows – you wish your software to be built on.
If however, you do not have a particular software system you wish to use, then they should be able to provide a solution for you and clearly explain the benefits of using it.
4. User Experience
As your software has to provide a great user experience for your employees, you should ask the developers you are considering how they intend to tailor the applications to coincide with the level of software expertise your employees currently have.
If a developer can not build software that is easy to connect with and easy to use, then there is no point in hiring them to build it.
Software development companies who build enterprise software have to be insured to work on high-security & high-safety systems given the nature of most large businesses’ proprietary and classified data.
This is the only way you can be sure that your company’s data will be as safe from any breaches or leaks as possible
6. Application Ownership
Developers must agree that the software you want them to build belongs to your organization. While it is rare, there have been instances where custom-software has been built for a company and then offered to its competitors as well.
The ownership agreement must be put in writing (viz., a signed contract) according to the laws of your governing locale.
7. Post-Deployment Support
If you recall in an earlier section, it was mentioned that further updates and testing will have to be done after your software has been released, which means you will still need your developer’s services after they have finished developing and deploying your enterprise software.
They should be able to supply you with the following services before, during, and after software deployment:
- Software Configuration
- Software Customization
- Software Orientation
- Software Maintenance
- Software Backup
Any honest developer will have a clear and set pricing structure to give to their clients before they start working on their projects.
If they don’t, they will at least give an estimate of what they believe a project will cost after they have been given the appropriate information about it.
It is important to know what your enterprise software development project will cost before you begin so you can create a budget for it and estimate the potential ROI you will receive from its initial and continuing costs (e.g., maintenance, updates, training).
9. Delivery Time
A good software development company will always deliver projects on time. You can get their delivery rates from the customer feedback you gathered during your research process.
Getting your software on time provides you with two major benefits:
- Catching bugs early and correcting them before deployment.
- Allowing employees to start their work on the software immediately and so provide relevant feedback on it as soon as possible.
Make sure you negotiate the delivery date with your developer before they start the development process because this will give them an incentive to finish their work as quickly as possible.
10. Communication Skills
Your chosen developer must have good communication skills.
Communication, in this instance, does not just mean being able to pass on updates and clearly articulate how to use the software, but also being able to communicate to themselves how best to design the software to help your company achieve its goals. In other words, they should also understand what your company needs and communicate that to the software they are developing for you.
Some of the benefits of working with a software development team with good communication skills include:
- Regular Updates
- Proper Software Tutorials & Training
- Better Customization
Final Words about Enterprise Software Development
This guide was intended to give you a quick look into what enterprise software is, how it differs from widely available software solutions, and how it can benefit your business in the long run.
We highlighted some important points to keep in mind: things to look for in well-functioning enterprise software, types of architecture, and the qualities of a good software development team.
Enterprise software development is the only surefire way your business will get exactly the software you need, without having to worry about bloatware and compatibility issues.
Even if you don’t want to give up your current software because the processes work well but it’s a bit out of date, you can keep it functioning for years to come with legacy application modernization.
The most important point of enterprise development?
The software will be designed for your enterprise only – whether you need a good solution to manage projects or resources, or need everything from ERP to BI solutions – they will be fully custom to suit your needs.
We can make that happen, so let’s talk about what you wish to achieve.