Developing Custom Software Has Multiple Pay-Offs
During the fall of 2015, we were working through two major undertakings here at Equilibar. One—the doubling of our production area—was visible and tangible. Everyone could easily see how our new and improved space would directly affect our operation.
The other project was much more subtle. In fact, it was largely invisible and intangible to outsiders, and yet in many ways I believe it has had an even more profound effect on how we do business. This project centered around developing a custom software package to enable our NetSuite ERP program to manage inventory, develop part numbers, automate bills of material construction, and perform other tasks that would empower us to focus on what we do best–finding solutions for our clients’ pressure control needs.
In prior years we had used work-arounds rather than a custom software program. The added complexity of relying on external databases required us to use multiple pieces of software for any given task rather than rely on NetSuite as a fully functional ERP package. As Equilibar grew, this complexity became more and more problematic and inefficient.
To find the program that would best enable us to meet our goals, we looked at both market ready packages and custom written software. For us, the deciding factor was the realization that off-the-shelf products weren’t going to completely eliminate the need for custom development. Existing products are developed to be useful to as many clients as possible, making them generally functional but not specifically helpful for our unique needs. Any pre-made package we purchased was going to be a compromise. In all likelihood, if we purchased an off-the-shelf part picker, for example, to work with Netsuite, we would still need to find and engage a custom software company to modify it. We would still face all of the risks associated with custom software development and, in fact, we may have created additional risks given the number of parties involved. A revision in the third party’s commercial software could have easily led to a crash in the custom written software.
In the end we decided that if we needed to write custom software anyway, why not write the software from scratch to meet our goals exactly?
That is the thinking that led us to engage with Open-Issue to develop a custom part picker and bill of material builder within Netsuite. Open-Issue worked diligently to understand our specific needs and then efficiently write custom code to convert those needs into reality. Open-Issue leveraged SCRUM tactics to provide Equilibar with actual working nuggets of code that allowed an immediate hands on look at what the finished product would ultimately capture. This ‘test drive’ would often be written and occur within the same one hour video conference that the specific need was originally discussed. A big shout out to Thomas Groden, Pete Westlake, and the team at Open-Issue !
While the transition to the new software addition to NetSuite ERP was temporarily disruptive, Equilibar is now reaping multiple benefits. We are able to prepare orders more quickly. The time that would have been spent managing an unwieldy database of inventory can be spent focusing on quality, timeliness, and, most of all, creative pressure control solutions.
I enjoyed working with Open-Issue to find the Goldilocks solution for Equilibar—the optimal match that was just right. The project was a major undertaking and required some trial and error, but we all agree it has been worth the effort.