Custom database software – How to Evaluate Your Options

SaaS Versus Custom Development

When you’re growing a business, it’s challenging to balance your immediate database needs versus future requirements. In these early days, making the right decision for your business can set your client management approach off on the right foot. Without hurting your budget too much.

So what are the options?

  1. ‘Out of the box’ enterprise CRM, ERP, etc software – Do you invest in an expensive, yet popular enterprise software application?
  2. Custom database development  – Should you hire a developer and have them build a custom database from scratch?
  3. Custom database without development with on-demand support – Build your custom database on a no-code application development platform, and hire professionals to customize it further for you

Getting something custom is obviously the most attractive – with the end result being an incredibly efficient tool, built to match to existing business processes.  But what if you don’t have the budget for a custom developer? What happens if you don’t have anyone in-house with the tech smarts to manage its administration on an ongoing basis?

For all these reasons, one should consider the pros and cons of each of the above situations prior to making a decision.

Benefits of investing in a custom database software (without having to hire an expensive developer):

1. Time to implement

A custom build will allow you to create the exact piece of software that you need. Hiring a Custom Development Firm is a large investment in both time, money, tied up resources and people. And once the build is underway, it takes time to get the code exactly right. This may require time you don’t have, as data is going unused while you wait.

A software subscription, on the other hand, is ready to install as soon as you signup. If the software is cloud-hosted (SaaS) all you’ll need is a login to get started.

Contrast this with an online database software platform like Kohezion where you create an account for free. Upload your existing Excel spreadsheet (or CSV file) and have a database created in minutes.

“We were so impressed with how quickly we got up and runnning with Kohezion. We were on a free trial, and uploaded our database and after playing around a little bit, we were able to create the database we were looking for” – Alecia O’Brien, VP, Sales, Headlight and Heater Co.

2. Easy integration

A custom build with a database development firm is a great solution for those looking for custom detail, and to be a perfect fit for existing workflows. But when it comes to connecting to other applications, it may stumble. Most applications require an API to set up in order to connect, and each one will need to be configured separately. This can take quite a bit of time to get working properly, which equates to high cost.

With enterprise software, connections to the most popular business applications are generally available as part of the subscription, or there are workarounds with tools like zapier. The connection is easy, usually done via your login for each individual app. You’re generally up and running, able to share information back and forth within minutes. And if there’s not an integration or your favorite app included right away? It’s likely to show up down the line as a new option.

3. Ideal customization

When it comes to customization, you’ll have the greatest flexibility with a custom build. Every element from beginning to end can be crafted in a way that fits your business’s unique data needs. This allows you to create the perfect workflow for your employees based on their job responsibilities, making it easier for them to get and share the information they need.

Hiring a developer is not the only way to get a custom database created for you. It’s incredibly expensive to go this route for they are building from scratch.

Contrast that to an online database building software platform, suchc as Kohezion. Whether it be from a template (and enhanced to meet your terminology), or from scratch – the benefit of leveraging a platform like Kohezion is that the relational database functionality already exists. You haven’t paid to create that, as you would otherwise if you hired a development firm to build from scratch. It can be customized to meet your specifications 100% and can be created by people without coding experience.

“From managing our client relations, keeping track of hours, to knowing when tax entries are due, Kohezion has ensured we can stay a step ahead of our clients. Everyone is happy” – Anouk Pélissou, CPA, Senior Accountant and Associate, Pélissou & Associates 

4. Upgrades that are easy

With custom database developments done by an individual, you will be responsible for maintaining and scaling the software as you grow. For every new application you start using, you’ll have to figure out a new way to connect. For every new idea you implement, you’ll need to find a way to store the data you pull in. The build can become bloated fast, and it can be difficult to maintain let alone upgrade.

If you don’t want to worry about the software being able to keep up with your usage and growth, software-as-a-service is a great bet. This includes both the enterprise ‘off-the-shelf’ options like Salesforce, and includes online database software applications like Kohezion. The vendor is responsible for upgrading and maintaining. Typically incremental updates, or point releases, for the version you own are typically free. While version changes may come with an additional cost to purchase, depending on the vendor.

5. Budget and cost considerations

Time is money and a custom build option can get pricey fast. For a custom creation, you’ll need to hire an expert to build it and potentially new equipment, servers, or web hosting space. Those costs add up quickly.

In contrast, an enterprise software subscription option can provide you with a more stable perspective for budgeting – monthly, recurring costs per user. This makes it easier on your budget in the long run, with fewer surprises likely to pop up. There are however many different scales of enterprise software available for you to consider:

  • Off-the-shelf enterprise software subscription – CRM, ERP, Project Management, People Management, software – they scale rapidly in price per user (plus implementation fees) with a corresponding feature set.  To be clear –> these are not databases. These are applications that are been custom created to serve a particular persona, whether it be a sales manager, HR manager, project manager and come with a rigid set of features. IF customization is possible, it still has to fall within the parameters of the existing software architecture. This is often cited as the downside of choosing niche-specific enterprise platforms.
  • Online database software subscription – Same approach to monthly fees, but far less expensive (plans with Kohezion start at $50/year/user). Provided with templates such as a CRM template, anyone can create the database that they’re looking for, and ensure that the fields MATCH their business. This is where real customization is affordable. Generally, professional services are available to help users customize it further, integrate other systems and create automated workflows.

Why is online database SaaS software your best option?

For businesses who are at a point where their homegrown systems are no longer fitting the bill, the choice is clear. An online database software and web application development platform is undoubtedly your most cost-effective, long-term option.

  • Lowest cost: much, much, much less expensive. User costs start at $50 per year.
  • Leverage an established ‘database-building’ platform: don’t hire someone to create a custom database from scratch. Save your money! Use a platform that already has the nuts and bolts built. It’s just your turn now to customize it!
  • Customization: you’ll get the database with fields, and online web forms, that are 100% akin to what you’re looking for, and what matches your business
  • Bonus of workflow automation: take advantage of automating repetitive tasks like calendar task creation, email follow-ups and calculations with unlimited apps
  • On-demand, inexpensive support: leverage the pro services team whenever you need help or hire them to build it for you at a fraction of the cost of a developer who would be building from the ground up

Online database software applications provide you with a feature set comparable to enterprise-scale CRMs and ERPs. Yet it can be customized to reflect the ways in which your business wants and needs to manage data. Instead of having to adapt your business to meet the templates and processes within the software,  online database applications can be configured to collect, display and manipulate data exactly as you wish.

Ready to create your first online database? Kohezion has a free trial available! Sign up here to get started.