Why E-Learning & Training Companies Need Custom Software?
Do you run an e-learning or business training company? Do you pay for multiple software subscriptions to manage your team, create content, and advertise your business?
If so, you could be overspending significantly — without actually owning any of these products.
Investing in custom software can save you over 75 percent each month on your IT and software-related expenses.
Learn more about the specific benefits of custom software for e-learning and business training companies below. You’ll also learn some best practices to ensure you get a high-quality finished product.
Benefits of Custom Software
As the owner of an e-learning or business training company, you have a lot of responsibilities.
You’re in charge of creating educational content for your clients and ensuring they’re satisfied, but you also have to manage your employees effectively. From assigning tasks to monitoring progress to handling payroll, you’ve got plenty on your plate.
Custom software can lighten your load and offer you and your team numerous benefits. Here are some of the top reasons to invest in custom software:
Experience Long-Term Savings
Have you ever sat down and added up how much you spend each month on the software subscriptions you use to run your e-learning or training business? Many of these software solutions charge a fee per month per user — as your business grows, those costs can grow pretty quickly.
When you pay for custom software development, you will spend a greater amount initially. At the same time, though, you will end up saving money in the long run.
When you eliminate the monthly cost of various software products, you’ll likely notice within a few months that your budget is not as tight as it once was. Think about what else you could invest in for your company if you weren’t spending so much each month on IT-related expenses!
Consider the number of software products you use to run your business training company — and that your team uses to perform their jobs.
How much time gets wasted jumping from platform to platform or searching through different apps to find the correct information? Probably more than you’d like.
If you want your team to be more productive (and what business owner doesn’t want that?), custom software can help everyone save a lot of time. As a result, they’ll have more bandwidth to focus on other essential tasks, such as creating better training content for your customers or helping them resolve problems faster.
Gain a Competitive Advantage
When your team has more time to create better e-learning and training materials and products for your customers, you will eventually gain an advantage over your competitors.
Your customers will notice when the quality of your offerings improves. They’ll also be more likely to share your business’s products or services with fellow business owners.
Over time, your company’s improved reputation will help you stand out from other businesses in the same industry. It will also likely lead to more customers and a better bottom line for the business (all great things when you’re trying to keep your company afloat and help it thrive long-term).
Meet Specific Business Needs More Effectively
Why do you and your team rely on so many different software solutions? Probably because you haven’t been able to find one software product that does everything you need it to do.
Since you can’t find an all-in-one solution that works well for your company, you and your employees have likely spent a lot of time searching for and investing in various products to meet all your specific business needs.
Instead of jumping from product to product and trying to find one that works well for you and your team, why not just invest in creating your own?
With custom software, you can work with professionals to develop a solution created with your business, your employees’ needs, and your long-term goals in mind.
Make Changes and Updates at Any Time
When you rely on off-the-shelf software solutions developed for the masses, you’re at the mercy of the creator of that software. You have to wait for them to decide whether they want to make an update or add another feature.
When you purchase custom software for your business, you get to decide if and when you update the product or add a new feature. You can meet with your developers to make changes and updates whenever you want.
As a result, it’s easier to increase your employee’s productivity and ensure they have the tools they need to do their jobs as effectively as possible.
Increase Business Security
Most off-the-shelf software solutions come with some security features to protect you, your team, and your customers. However, it’s relatively easy for hackers to study these features and figure out how to work around them.
Anyone can purchase a software product off the shelf, investigate how it works, and find a way to infiltrate it to access valuable data. With custom software designed specifically for your business, it’s much harder for hackers to access your data.
First of all, it’s much harder for them to access your software in the first place, let alone figure out how to find the data stored within a specific platform. Most hackers don’t even bother with custom software solutions because of the added difficulty they present.
By investing in a custom solution, you can better protect your business and your customers. You can also avoid significant legal fees and other expenses related to a data breach.
Enjoy Easier Integration
Perhaps you and your team use an off-the-shelf tool or two that you all really like and want to continue working with. That’s great! You can still benefit from custom software.
Custom software can be specifically designed from the ground up to integrate with the existing tools you want to keep utilizing.
Rather than searching high and low for software solutions that integrate with your current software products, you can save time (and money) by investing in custom software that integrates seamlessly and allows for a more streamlined work environment (and increased productivity).
Experience Increased Reliability
You’ll likely get a more reliable product when you purchase custom-made software.
Rather than trusting your data and your essential business processes to an off-the-shelf solution, you can work with software created specifically for your business.
Keep in mind that most custom software solutions are made using the latest tools and technologies — and are created by highly experienced and skilled developers.
When talented, educated individuals develop your software products, there’s a greater chance that you’ll get a high-performing solution. You’ll also be less likely to deal with bugs and other issues that slow down productivity and interfere with your business’s performance.
Tips for Developing Custom Software
Are you curious about any (or perhaps all) of the benefits discussed above? Are you interested in creating your own custom software for your business?
The following tips will help you navigate the software development process and ensure you (and your team) experience the best outcomes:
Establish a Budget
Custom software development projects typically start at around $20K. The price may rise based on several factors, such as the software solution’s complexity and the number of people who will be using it.
You might not be able to predict precisely how much your custom software product will cost. However, you can review your business’s financials and come up with a general idea of how much you can afford to spend on custom software.
Before you write off the idea of investing in custom software because you can’t afford to drop $20K+ at once, think again.
Many developers (especially development agencies) offer financing to make the price of custom software development more accessible. Some also offer zero percent financing for a certain number of months, meaning you won’t spend extra money on interest.
Consider Short- and Long-Term Business Goals
Once you have a budget in mind, you can move on to the next step — evaluating your business’s short and long-term goals.
What do you want to accomplish in the coming months and years? How can custom software help you achieve those goals sooner?
When you have a clear idea of your business goals, it’s easier to identify the specific features you need a software solution to have and the functions you need it to perform.
The easier it is for you to identify these things, the easier it is to share your goals with a development team and give them the information they need to create a high-performing product.
Identify Specific Business and Employee Needs
In addition to your business goals, it’s also helpful to consider your specific business processes and employee needs.
In other words, what processes do you and your employees carry out day-to-day? What obstacles are your employees currently facing, and what kinds of tools would help them do their jobs more efficiently and effectively?
During this stage, it’s vital that you talk to your employees. You’ll likely learn a lot of things about their jobs that you wouldn’t have known otherwise.
Don’t make assumptions about what they want or need. Meet with them for an in-depth discussion about the tasks they perform each day, their current processes and workflows, and what issues are holding them back from successfully doing their jobs.
Prioritize Proactive Change Management
The long-term benefits of custom software are undeniable. At the same time, though, your employees might need some convincing to get on board with the idea of switching to a new solution.
It’s understandable why your employees might be hesitant initially. After all, they may have spent years using a particular tool to create content, analyze business data, or handle customer relationship management tasks.
Proactive change management can help you help your employees with this change. Here are some specific ways to can practice change management at your company:
Involve Key Users In The Decision-Making Process
Don’t make all the decisions on your own. Ask for input from other team embers to ensure you’re building the right solution and establish buy-in early.
Define The Purpose And Expected Outcomes
Clarifying the purpose of the software and the expected outcomes will help you ensure your employees properly utilize the tools. It also makes them aware of changes they will need to make in the future.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Consistent and honest communication will help your employees understand what’s happening, when the change will take place, and how they can prepare for it.
Prioritize Comprehensive Training
Don’t throw your employees to the wolves and leave them to experiment with the new solution on their own. Prioritize comprehensive training and onboarding to help them understand exactly how the software works and the benefits it offers.
Outsource Software Development
Could you ask your in-house information technology employees to handle the software development process? Possibly, depending on their experience and level of expertise.
However, if you assign them to a big project like this, you’re taking them away from other essential aspects of their jobs. As a result, it may take longer to complete the software, and quality may be compromised if your team gets stretched too thin.
To avoid these issues, consider outsourcing software development. Working with a development agency ensures you’re working with the most skilled and experienced professionals.
These people aren’t juggling multiple responsibilities, either. Their primary job is to build software for your business, meaning they can get it done faster without sacrificing quality.
Ask for Frequent Updates
Outsourcing takes a lot of weight off your and your employees’ shoulders. However, that doesn’t mean you should never check in throughout the development process.
You’re paying for a custom product to be built, and you have every right to request updates and find out how the developers are doing. Ask for regular updates so you can ensure the project is moving in the right direction and is being executed according to your expectations.
At the same time, you should also be patient while the development agency is working on your product.
On average, these kinds of projects take around 3-4 months on average. Resist the urge to rush your development team so you can start using the new software sooner.
Rushing often leads to poor quality and may increase the likelihood that you’ll need additional updates and fixes in the future.
Choose the Right Development Team
Outsourcing is an excellent way to reduce costs, save time, and avoid weighing your team down with additional tasks.
When outsourcing custom software development, be sure to keep the following tips in mind. They’ll help you select the best team for the job.
Do you know of any professionals in your industry (or a related industry) that recently invested in custom software? If so, reach out and ask if they’d refer you to their software development agency.
A referral is one of the easiest ways to sift through all the different agencies out there and find one that can carry out the kind of project that you need. If you don’t have time to vet dozens of agencies (or if you simply don’t want to), asking for a referral can help you find the right match sooner.
Check Out Portfolios
When you’re considering a particular development agency, don’t forget to check out their portfolio.
How many custom software solutions have they created? Have they worked with businesses like yours in the past? Does the quality of their work seem to align with your business’s needs and goals?
Be wary of agencies that don’t have any work samples available on their websites. A lack of examples could suggest a lack of experience. It could also indicate that they’re not proud of their work and don’t want to show it off to potential clients.
Look Up Reviews and Testimonials
Say you can’t get a referral — or perhaps you got one but want to do some additional research on your own. In either case, it helps to look up reviews and testimonials.
Reading reviews and testimonials from past clients gives you a peek into how the development agency operates, the quality of its work, and its dedication to a positive customer experience.
If the agency has generally positive reviews from multiple customers, that’s a good sign. If the reviews are mostly negative, or if there are very few reviews, proceed with caution.
Schedule an Initial Consultation
You can learn a lot about a development agency by perusing their website and reading reviews. Eventually, though, you need to chat with an actual employee in person, over the phone, or via video chat.
During your initial consultation, be sure to ask the following questions:
Ask About Past Experience
Ask directly whether or not the agency has created software solutions like the one you want. Find out if they’ve worked with e-learning and business training companies in the past, too.
It’s best if you can work with an agency that has relevant experience and understands your industry. Otherwise, you may have to spend more time than you’d like educating them on your needs and goals.
Ask About Average Delivery Times
Most software development agencies take around 3-4 months to complete a project. It may take more or less time, depending on the complexity of your desired solution, though.
Ask for an estimated timeline so you can prepare adequately and make sure your team is ready for the new software.
Ask About Communication Options
Make sure the development agency is easy to contact.
How do you reach them if you have questions, concerns, or want an update? Can you call or send an email? Do they have a chat line available?
Ideally, the agency will have multiple communication options and good response times. The more accessible they are, the better.
Ask About Post-Development Support
The best development agency won’t launch your software solution and then leave you and your team to figure it out on your own. They will work with you to learn how the product works and understand the best way to incorporate it into your business processes.
During your consultation, ask about post-development support. Find out how easy it will be to connect with a member of the development team if you have questions or issues arise.
Ask About The Development Process
Every agency has a unique development process. However, some aspects should be included no matter what, including the following:
- Research (into your industry, your employees’ needs and pain points, etc.)
- Prototyping (a model of your software so you can see how it will look, function, etc.)
- Front and backend development
- Quality assurance testing (testing should take place throughout the development process rather than waiting until the very end)
- Post-development support (help with bugs, updates, etc.)
If the agency doesn’t at least include these stages in its development process, they might not be the right fit for you. A comprehensive development process will give you the greatest value for your money and help you see the best results after investing in and launching the new software solution.
Get A Quote
Always ask for a quote before you make a final decision. After talking to an agency about the type of software you want and your business goals, they should be able to give you a detailed breakdown of what, approximately, the software solution will cost.
Get quotes from multiple agencies. Then, compare them carefully to determine which agency will give you the best deal.
Don’t focus exclusively on price. Instead, consider the quality of service you get for that price.
Remember that it’s worthwhile to spend more money in exchange for a higher level of service and a higher-quality finished product.
Invest in Custom Software for Your E-Learning or Business Training Company
Developing custom software for your e-learning or business training company could revolutionize the way you operate, from how you communicate with your team to how you manage customer subscriptions.
Do you want to move forward with creating custom software for your business? Do you want to work with a highly qualified, award-winning development agency?
If so, get in touch with Digital Engage today. Contact us to get a quote or learn more about our services.