Whether searching for a Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) product, or a custom-built application that fits the particular needs of a specific organization, the main reason why most people come to TCEG is to solve a problem. Perhaps it is a process that takes too long and could be automated, or perhaps it is finding new ways to reach out to clients and do business with them. But in all cases, the issue comes down to whether or not the proposed solution will solve the problem. A secondary issue is often whether or not the proposed solution is the optimal way to solve the problem.
Understanding the Value of Software
Software exists to make work more efficient, organized, and professional. It performs its job day in and day out, never getting tired, and rarely complaining. As time goes on, more and more problems (bugs) are solved with software, and the value of the software increases because it is more useful. However, utility is not an easy way to arrive at a value for software.
An easier way to determine the value of software is to look at how much money it enables a business to make, and/or to save. So, for example, if by adding an application a business can make an additional $10,000 per month (in profit), then the value of the application is $10,000 times the number of months that we expect the application to continue generating $10,000 in profits. While evaluation of risk is outside the scope of this document, suppose that any given month there is a 99% chance that the business will continue operating next month with the same application-induced profit, and a 1% chance that it will all end. Then the expected number of months that the business will continue is 100, therefore the expected Net Present Value (NPV) of the application is about $1,000,000. This means that if the application can be created for significantly less than that, then it is definitely worth doing.
As an aside, in the biomedical research field, academics have argued that it may be worth moving forward with a project even in situations where the calculated NPV is negative. This would occur only when by keeping options open, it can be determined that a skilled CEO could intelligently manoeuver the organization to cut short situations that would lead to financial loss.
Understanding Commercial Off the Shelf Software (COTS) Integration
Integrating COTS into existing software infrastructure requires knowledge about how the COTS works, how existing software infrastructure works, and how to integrate the two. Database skills are often involved, as well as custom programs. Thus, in addition to whether or not the COTS product could solve the problem, the selection of a COTS product will take into account issues such as:
- Whether or not source code is available
- The programming language and databases used by the software
- The quality of technical support provided with the software
In many situations, no COTS product will be available that meets all the requirements of the organization. In that case, a custom application is a good option and may still yield a worthwhile NPV.
There are many programming languages and platforms upon which software can be written. PHP is only one of them, but it has received a great deal of favour because it is particularly efficient for database-enabled web applications. Web-based applications have also received favour because they are less expensive to roll out (install) than applications that are distributed in the form of an executable, or setup program.
TCEG PHP Developer Services
For organizations looking for custom PHP applications, TCEG can provide experienced PHP developers, as well as long-term support plans. The advantages of working with TCEG (for Canadian and American clients) are clear: we are nearby, so you can talk to us during regular business hours. For those in Surrey, BC (Canada), we can meet face-to-face, and we can work on-site to resolve technical matters.
TCEG PHP Experience
TCEG has significant experience with PHP programming, including:
- Accessing web services
- Manipulating databases
- Creating images (or PDFs or Rich Text Format documents) on-the-fly
- Text manipulation and templates
- Custom Email programs for sending and receiving email
See also php and practice-php.
TCEG NCOTS Selection Services
Many PHP projects follow similar themes - if your site is similar enough to freely available Open Source software (Non-Commercial Off-the-Shelf, or NCOTS), then we can explain the similarities and differences, and if agreed, then proceed with the simpler and less expensive project of installing and customizing the available packages.
When PHP projects are unique to a particular business or industry, and no commercial or open source package fits the needs adequately, we are happy to help by developing custom software. Please note that the cost for custom software is rarely less than $5000 Canadian, although financing may be available for small businesses (OAC). Custom software for large businesses is often more expensive as there are more detailed requirements, more integration issues, and greater chances for liability.