Almighty Pod: The Best Model for Innovation in Custom Business Software


Custom business software can be a game-changer, but you need to approach it with innovation in mind. Instead of wasting time and energy while falling victim to reach drift, carefully consider your needs versus your wants. Here are some tips for businesses that might want to take a pod-based approach to software development.

It’s a great time for custom business software: In May, GoodFirms released its list of the world’s best business software companies. Specialized applications (eg, custom accounting software) represent a huge opportunity, and custom software is expected to reach new levels of penetration in the industry over the next five years. Customized business software is a growing opportunity, one that your business should try to seize.

To approach this opportunity effectively, identify the basics. You cannot be profitable spending resources on lint. It probably seems obvious, but companies often develop custom business software without a strategy in place to clarify what is needed and what is not. The right approach also avoids common pitfalls like scope creep, which can quickly inflate your functionality beyond your needs.

Needs versus wants (make this list!)

Your strategy should start with a list of features in two categories: Needs versus wants. Be honest with yourself and ask yourself, “is your software really need that? ”If not, move this functionality to the“ wants ”category. By focusing on defining your software’s needs, you may be on the fast track to a First Release Product (FRP), the first step in creating a successful custom business software and launch a scalable investment.

An FRP approach is generally quite effective for software development, but it’s even more useful when creating custom business software, because your product doesn’t have to appeal to every customer – just yours! This means that you can skip many special cases and focus on what matters to your specific use cases.

Obtaining this right is not optional – it is mission essential

When custom software development companies fail to innovate, they face threats to their sustainability: atrophy, stagnation and decline. This is incompatible with an industry in which R&D spending has increased over the past 20 years.

Too often, in this business ecosystem, innovation is found concentrated in the most successful companies. While larger companies have large R&D budgets and stable (or predictable) revenues that can absorb the impact of failures, smaller companies cannot shoulder the same risk. These companies must seek out new, creative ways to drive innovation, often leaving industry disruptions in their wake. The situation is often more difficult for midsize businesses that lack the big budgets of larger companies and the agility of startups.

This reality places an additional burden on businesses of ensuring that they innovate with business growth in mind. At this point, the delivery of any custom software, from robust platforms to small applications that improve specific pain points, requires an operational change. This change will be driven by efficiency gains, new sources of revenue or the provision of actionable information. But he leaves open the exact structure that is most appropriate to meet those needs.

Pod be with you

The best way to achieve organizational change while driving innovation for software is a business within a business model, or BWB.

Why? A BWB approach encourages everyone to think like an entrepreneur. Rather than being a cog in the machine, each person is responsible for strategic execution. Everyone turns strategy into tactic and is responsible for delivering results.

When applying the BWB model to custom enterprise software development, I favor a new business paradigm that takes these needs into account: the “podular” organization, which was created by author Dave Gray. Gray describes a pod as a “small, self-contained unit that is turned on and empowered to deliver the things customers love.”

Pods can effectively meet customer needs, avoid risk, and take advantage of opportunities while enabling a distribution of control. The final result ? Fast decision making closely aligned with customer needs.

Principles for a podular approach

To introduce a podular approach to your innovation for custom business software development, keep these three principles in mind:

Trust the process. Enabling the pod and empowering it to demonstrate its value is the key to its success. It forces accountability, but it also fosters a sense of ownership.

This creates an integrated entrepreneurial environment within your business that takes the best of the startup culture and merges it with the restrained risk avoidance culture of an established business.

Spread the wealth. Creating a network of modules, each focused on one feature or functionality, is the recipe for success. If the adage about ‘the weakest link’ is true, you need to structure your business in a way that distributes the greatest workload across the ecosystem.

If a pod fails, it does not slow down or invalidate the work of other units. Using pods shouldn’t be a gamble – it’s a robust, crash-resistant approach.

Keep the customer experience in mind. Requiring creativity and encouraging unorthodox thinking within each of your pods is fundamental to everyone’s success. Members of each group should be visibly responsive to the needs of users or customers.

Innovation is the way to surprise and delight. Always make sure to create a “podular” environment that rewards and recognizes creativity.

Today’s rapid pace of change and competition demands new approaches not only to software innovation, but also to organizational architecture. The pod-based approach is your best bet for staying at the forefront of innovation.

Don’t delay implementing this model and empowering every member of your team to think like an entrepreneur. It should lead to innovations that will make all the difference in the years to come.

Written by Ross A. McIntyre.

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