Tailored programming: What To Look For When Seeking Custom Programming
by Josette Millar
If you’ve decided that custom programming is something you need, you’re taking a step that will help you become more efficient and give your staff greater power. However, you’re also taking a step that has to be implemented in the right way, or you may run into serious difficulties and end up no better off. Custom programming can seem daunting when you start but don’t be put off – with just a little preparation you’ll be able to get exactly what you require, and in turn your business will flourish. Most important is finding a competent programmer to do the work.
Keep in mind these few thoughts about finding such a programmer, and you will be well on your way:
Certification and Qualifications
Knowing that your hired programmer is qualified for the job is, as with most trades, made easier by the existence of certifications issued by independent bodies. These certifications are as useful with a programmer as they would be with your plumber, but there’s a problem – the programming world is quite chaotic, and there are no overarching bodies that cover everything. Each programming language is likely to have its own certification, sometimes offered by the designers of the language, sometimes from third parties such as educational institutes. Check to make sure qualifications come from reputable and worthwhile sources, who have a strong interest in ensuring the credentials they issue are sound.
Experience is an important factor in programming. Not only because an experienced programmer will have more tools at their disposal, but perhaps even more importantly, because they will know which language is best for your custom programming needs. If you have a particularly tricky or complex job this is a vital piece of the puzzle, and knowledge of an appropriate language will make the difference between an efficient program that does what you need, and a clunky one which you have to fight instead of working with. A programming agency should have people with varying skill sets, making them particularly good in this regard.
Given events like the Target hacking incident and the Sony Pictures hack, it’s unsurprising that people are concerned about system security. You need to hire people who respect this importance. However, it should be kept in mind that the weak link in most programs is not in the code, but the staff. The most important parts of security are good habits on the part of employees, including secure and regularly changed passwords, restricting access to those who need it, and ensuring that private work is not done on work computers.
One of the downsides of custom programming is that it is more expensive in the short term than buying off-the-shelf software. On the other hand, you get what you pay for – a customized piece of software will do exactly what you require with efficiency. In the long run that will lead to more productivity and lower costs. Unfortunately it’s very hard to give guides for custom programming costs because the type of work needed varies so dramatically from project to project, but it is generally charged either on an hourly basis, or for a completed piece of software – the latter is usually preferable, as it will protect you from unseen charges or unscrupulous procrastination.
Custom programming can be intimidating to look into, as it is a field few laypeople have knowledge of. That said, if you shop around, discuss your needs with various different programmers and agencies, and make sure you check previous work and experience, you should be able to find the right people to do the work you need.