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What Is Bespoke Software?

Article Details
  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 25 September 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2017
    Conjecture Corporation
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Bespoke software is a custom software product developed for a specific client. The developers work with the client to tailor a product to a very specific need, working either from scratch or with a software base they can build up and adapt for the use of different clients. Such software can be much more expensive than products intended for mass production and use. In some settings, a company may feel the expense is worth the benefits.

With bespoke software design, the developers can tightly control the programming and features. Since they do not need to make a product that appeals to a broad market, they can enable all the features the client requests. The result can be a highly specialized program that works effectively for one company, but wouldn't necessarily be useful for others. A spa, for instance, might request a custom program for management of its appointments that reflects the specific needs and policies of the organization.

Large companies are more likely to order bespoke software, as they can justify the expense. A product that precisely meets their need may also be worth the cost, especially if they have security concerns or perform unique operations that regular software cannot account for. Programming teams can consider the expressed wishes of the clients to develop an appropriate framework and turn it into a full-fledged program.

The design of bespoke software usually starts with meetings between programmers and clients so all parties understand the limitations and expectations of the project. When the company knows what kind of product the customer needs, it can provide an estimate. Clients may meet with several developers who specialize in similar products like inventory management software to get an idea of the range of options and prices available. When the client agrees to the terms and signs a contract, the programmers can start.

Some bespoke software may be coded from the ground up to generate an entirely new program. Other companies may have a base they adapt to the needs of the clients. The underlying structure and framework will be shared with other programs. The end result, however, can be radically different, because the programmers customize every aspect. Using a generic base can help speed the development and debugging process, as the software developers have a familiar framework to start with.

Bespoke software can be powerful, flexible, and extremely useful. It does have some drawbacks. If the developers go out of business or do not share the source code, the buyer may not be able to get support for the software. This can be a problem if the client needs updates to meet new needs or if something starts to go wrong.

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