Custom Enterprise Software Development: What to Know Before Your Next Project

There’s a wealth of enterprise software out there but you might find it doesn’t suit your business needs. It has some features you’ll never use, while others you desperately need are missing.

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by Matias Emiliano Alvarez Duran


The answer is to invest in custom enterprise software development, but knowing where to start can be tricky. 

In this article, we’ll use our years of experience in the custom software development process to run you through the basics, and suggest how outsourcing can make the process much easier.

Table of contents

Ready to build your own custom software with a team that cares about you and your processes? We’re not code monkeys, we care about

What is custom enterprise software? 

Custom enterprise software is a bespoke system built to help an organization carry out its business processes. These systems can address the needs of different areas of the business, like finance, customer relationship management, and human resources.

It’s possible to buy commercial enterprise software that isn’t custom-made, but it can be expensive and you may end up paying for features you don’t need.

Common types of custom software solutions

The first step to planning a new piece of custom enterprise software is knowing what’s already out there. To help you determine which software solutions will work best for your business we’ve put together a short list of some of the most common types available.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP)

Custom-built ERP systems are designed to combine multiple business processes into one easy-to-use system, minimizing data duplication.

These systems help businesses manage their daily activities, such as:

  • Accounts and finance

  • Inventory

  • Risk management and compliance

  • Procurement

  • Production

  • Supply chain operations

  • Project management

For example, a platform-driven business that generates value via the internet might need a custom ERP. Integrating or adapting an existing one would be a waste of time due to the specificity of their business. 

Content management system (CMS)

A CMS is specifically designed to help businesses add complex content to their websites without having to rely on a developer. It should cater for:

  • Content generation 

    • Press releases

    • Documents

    • Blog posts

    • Videos

  • Different user levels and permissions

  • Complex workflow approvals

A free or paid CMS package can usually meet the needs of most businesses, but some businesses may require a custom CMS. 

For example, a large media group might need to develop their own custom CMS to manage different international news portals. It would need to support custom workflows for different users—like authors, translators, and editors—on each portal, as well as advanced preview options to review articles before publishing.

Customer relationship management (CRM)

This type of enterprise software manages all of the strategies, techniques, tools, and technologies employed by a company in order to develop, retain, and attract new clients.

It’s the perfect solution for organizations seeking to keep track of:

  • Customers

  • Referrals

  • Prospective customers

  • Vendors

Alternatively if none of the standard CRM tools work for your organization, you can develop a custom CRM tool to meet your business needs.

Operations management

In essence, operations management software ensures the efficiency of business processes—from delivering services or goods to manufacturing them. This system improves the efficiency and effectiveness of all of these processes, many of which can be automated. 

Operations management software helps to:

  • Organize, monitor, and coordinate production or service operations.

  • Enable digital transformation of daily workflows of relevant employees.

  • Spot and reduce operational process bottlenecks.

For example, an investment management company wants to digitize and automate its operations. It would need custom software to manage operations such as collecting details of potential investors, tracking  investment capital, signing digital contracts and sharing analytics with stakeholders.

Knowing the common types of custom enterprise software will help you customize your unique solution. Source: NaNLABS

If you’re going to be investing money and time into a custom app, getting up to speed on what’s hot, and what’s not, in the world of custom enterprise software is vital.

Knowledge is power, so take a look at these trending features before diving headfirst into enterprise application development.

No-code and low-code development tools

As companies seek to streamline their businesses a new innovation has emerged in no-code, or low-code, development tools. The tools provide users with simple drag-and-drop interfaces that allow them to construct an appealing and feature-rich solution to their business needs.

Low-code development has seen a massive rise in recent years, and the reasons why are clear:

  • Less specialist knowledge is required.

  • Development progresses quicker.

  • It cuts back on costs.

However, due to relying on a tool with restricted options, this approach has obvious technical limitations worth weighing up before starting development.


Wait, no, stop! We’re not trying to sell you an NFT of a monkey smoking a pipe. Although NFTs and cryptocurrency are popular uses of blockchain technology, the possibilities it offers extend far beyond them. 

In a blockchain, information and transactions are recorded and stored securely in a database that is duplicated and distributed among multiple computer systems. It becomes a distributed ledger that can’t be tampered with.

Peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, one of the foundations of blockchain, can provide:

  • Transparency

  • Decentralization

  • Robust security features

This helps to explain why many companies looking to build custom enterprise software are moving ahead with blockchain technology. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) 

The goal of artificial intelligence is to develop intelligent machines that can perform tasks that require human intelligence. Although humanity hasn’t quite reached the levels of popular science-fiction, AI has increasingly become a day-to-day reality. 

AI is currently being used everywhere you look, from Amazon recommendations to your household assistant, and it has many business applications.

It can be integrated with:

  • Cyber-security tools

  • Network components

  • Software development languages

  • Blockchain

  • Cloud services

Every single programming language is coming up with ways to embed AI in enterprise software for better strategies, analytics, and decision making.

Machine learning 

Technically an example of AI, machine learning enables computers to learn and improve without input from humans. Machine learning systems identify patterns from data and predict their likely outcomes using specially programmed algorithms.

Enterprise software benefits from machine learning by improving and speeding up data analysis and insights. It can improve the efficiency of the internal operations in an organization, and increase your customer knowledge.


Instead of being a singular all-encompassing system, microservices are specialized API-first services that connect together to form modular, customized tech stacks. This makes life much easier for developers by providing an architecture that has:

  • Self-sufficiency

  • Scalability

  • Maintainability

  • Resilience

  • Lifecycle automation

Microservices have shot up in popularity in recent years as they save considerable time in complex systems development and maintenance.

Cloud computing

Another buzzy feature is cloud computing, which is essentially on-demand access to computer resources, especially storage and computing power, without direct user involvement.

It has seen increased adoption due to its:

  • Cost-effectiveness

  • Data security

  • Productive collaboration

  • Flexibility

  • Ability to scale adaptably

Server-less architecture is a cloud computing feature that is also highly popular. It removes the need for servers, providing the ability to create and deploy code while a cloud provider handles running applications, databases, and storage.

What you need to know before you develop a custom enterprise application

Inspiration strikes and you find yourself having a fantastic idea for a custom enterprise software solution. But you can’t stop there and hand the rest off to a dev team. 

It’s more cost-effective to first sit down and carefully plan out how you’re going to turn your concept into the next Netflix.

Project goals and parameters 

Any significant project should set clear goals and parameters to make sure resources aren’t wasted. But software development also presents a perfect opportunity to create an enterprise software strategy that matches the mission and goals of your organization.

Taking the time to analyze the company's mission will help you work out what functionality will  boost, accelerate, and protect the organization's digital capabilities. Look to solve your business problems and make it clear what benefits you will receive after having developed the software.

Timeline and milestones

Ever gone hiking without first checking out a map? It’s not a nice experience. If you don’t map out a clear timeline and set of milestones for custom enterprise software development you’re opening yourself up to scope creep.

As a result of a lack of proper definition, documentation, or control, scope creep occurs when a project's scope grows uncontrollably. And no one wants that.

Set a clear timeline of development so the team understands what should be done and by when. Combine the timeline with achievable milestones to help break down development and ease progress monitoring. 

People and resources

How many people does it take to change a lightbulb? Who cares, we’re making a software application. Now that you have an idea of what functionality you’re aiming for and how long it will take to execute, it pays to define how many people, and what resources you’ll need, to pull it off.

Work out who you’ll need to collaborate with, be it designers, developers, or potential users, and in what numbers. Decide on what tools, testing, and expertise you’ll need to get the job done now and it’ll make things much easier in the long run. 

Your long-term budget

Know upfront how much you can invest in your software solution, and stick to it, and you’ll see a higher return on investment (ROI). A well-thought-out budget will not only help you know what functionality your software can include, but also stop costs from spiraling out of control at a later stage.

When formulating your long-term budget be sure to keep in mind the following costs:

  • Software development

  • Licensing

  • Hosting

  • Implementation

  • Operations

  • Maintenance 

What industry regulations to follow

It’s not the sexiest part of planning enterprise software development, we’ll give you that, but it is one of the most important. The last thing you want is to reach the end of development and find your software doesn’t meet industry regulations, setting app development back 10 steps.

Carefully research which regulations need to be met based on your organization, specific software solution, and geographic location. Include them in your development roadmap from the get-go and you’ll avoid headaches down the line. 

Here are some of the most common we suggest you keep an eye out for:

  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

  • Security Compliance Certification (SOC)

  • Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP)

  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

  • Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)

5 Reasons to outsource software development services

Don’t have an in-house development team? Even if you do, it’s likely they don’t have the time or expertise needed for custom enterprise software development. 

Recruiting takes time, incurs additional costs, and might not bring in the talent you’re looking for. Instead, look to augment your team with Agile development experts like NaNLABS for support, specialist knowledge, and increased efficiency.

Whether you’re looking to build a web application, mobile app (or both), these are the reasons to reach out for help.

1. Receive support

For all the benefits it provides, there’s no denying that taking on the development of a custom enterprise application can be a daunting proposition.

If you need help, we’re here to support you with expert planning and technical processes, with a development team, UX/UI designer, and technical leader at your disposal. 

Support from NaNLABS means more than just getting more hands on deck, we make it our business to get to know yours by fully integrating into your team and workflow. 

2. Gain expertise

Not everyone knows their Agiles from their DevOps. So if you’re unsure about which methodologies best suit your bespoke needs, draw on our vast experience in enterprise solutions

We bring our expertise to your project by sharing our extensive knowledge of Agile frameworks, and suggesting ways to improve your software product from day one. 

3. Reduce costs

Outsourcing software development to a dedicated team will reduce hiring costs, and lower infrastructure expenses.  Using a vendor can save money on employee training, collaborative tools, project management tools, and even delays caused by employee absences.

The higher levels of efficiency, accuracy, and expertise gained when collaborating with a team like NaNLABS also reduce development costs in the long term.

4. Increase efficiency

Outsourcing increases software development by allowing employees to focus on what they do best and giving you access to the latest technologies, processes, and expertise.

Here at NaNLABS, we like to get our hands dirty and work closely with our partners to find ways to improve efficiency and overall productivity.

5. Improve accuracy and quality

Putting out custom enterprise software littered with bugs will impact the user experience significantly. Outsourcing provides you with a second set of eyes to look over and test your app to make it the best it can be.

Using Agile methodologies our quality assurance team tests software for poor code and bugs from the outset, automating the process and not moving forward until code is so clean you could eat off of it. 

On balance, outsourcing is the best choice for enterprise software development. Source: NaNLABS

How we helped a cyber insurance company develop their enterprise software 

This cyber security company offers an analytics platform to enable cyber (re)insurance placement, underwriting decisions, and portfolio management optimization.

It came to NaNLABS with an offer we couldn’t refuse: to help migrate a Java monolithic solution into a state-of-the-art Cloud-based platform. 

Legacy Solution Modernization

We worked on transformation and refactoring in:

  • DevOps. We introduced Docker for all components, eased the CD/CI mechanism, and introduced ElasticSearch DB to improve performance while accessing analytics data.

  • Back-end. Our team transformed it into a cloud-native solution using AWS SAM to take advantage of several AWS services.

  • Front-end. We upgraded it from the SPA from AngularJS to React. Then we refactored the app to make it simpler to scale. We introduced a Micro-frontends approach to enhance maintenance and developer collaboration.  

Risk Management Solution

This was a probabilistic, scenario-based, and data-driven solution. It was developed from scratch as a cloud-native initiative, we focused on:

  • Back-end. Developed with AWS SAM, a serverless solution relying on Lambda functions, DynamoDB and API Gateway. 

  • Front-end. Built with React, following the Atomic Design approach (with Storybook) to favor UI components reutilization across the entire suite of products.  

Enterprise software development: it’s all in the planning

If you’re thinking of joining the custom enterprise software club, planning is key. To help guarantee high-quality software, map out:

  • What type of enterprise software you’re looking for.

  • What current trends might benefit your software.

  • How the software will align with your organization's goals.

  • The amount of time, personnel, and money you have at your disposal.

  • Which industry regulations you need to be aware of.

  • Whether outsourcing development is right for your project.

Custom enterprise software development is a significant undertaking so plan for success and consider augmenting your team to get it done.

Ready to build your own custom software with a team that cares about you and your processes? We’re not code monkeys, we care about

Frequently asked questions about custom enterprise software development

  • What is custom developed software?

    Custom developed software sits in contrast to commercial off-the-shelf software, because its functionality, features, and design are created from the ground up to match your specific business needs.

  • What is enterprise software?

    Enterprise software is characterized by being a data-intensive solution, containing complex domain logic, integrating with APIs and 3rd party applications, supporting high loads of operations, and enabling rapid business growth.

  • What do custom software development companies do?

    Custom software development companies provide products and services tailored specifically for their clients' requirements, resulting in lower costs and higher quality software.

  • How much does custom software development cost?

    Custom software development pricing varies a lot depending on what your organization needs from the software and the size of your business. It can range from $100,000 to over $1,000,000.

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