Sometimes known as bespoke software, custom software is any type of software designed for the exclusive use of a particular organization. This approach is slightly different from customized software, which is essentially an adaptation of an existing software product that is intended for general use. With custom software, the idea is to create something new and unique that meets specific needs with a specific organization, and is not intended to be adapted for use by any other organization. This form of software product is desirable when the nature of the business or other entity is highly specialized, and there are no existing software packages that can adequately meet the needs of the entity.
One of the best examples of custom software has to do with products designed for use in a business setting. For example, a manufacturer may commission the creation and development of software that drives all the automated functions associated with the production process. The program will be written in a way that ensures each step is executed within a specific sequence, and includes safeguards that company programmers can utilize when and as necessary.
Governments also sometimes develop custom software that helps to create private communication networks, establish links between different departments within the government structure, and allow for the sharing of key data between government entities with a certain level of security clearance. As is true with most types of custom software packages, the software is considered proprietary, and is not for use by any entity outside the governmental structure. This characteristic often makes the process of attempting to break through the security measures inherent in the software programming more difficult, and thus serves to protect the data that is shared via the function of the software.
The creation of custom software may be managed by programmers who are full-employees of the business, government agency, or other type of organization. There are also independent programmers who contract with customers for the purpose of creating a custom package. Whether managed in-house or outsourced to experts, the process usually begins with the establishment of what the software needs to do, the creation of a basic plan of operations, writing the first prototype, and beta testing this prototype. Over time, the prototype goes through several revisions as the testing identifies any issues that impact the efficient function of the software. Once the final product is delivered and installed, the custom software is usually placed under the management of an information technology team that makes sure the software continues to function according to specifications.