Custom Development for Increased Sales

Brent Bailey, CIO, GPS Capital Markets
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Brent Bailey, CIO, GPS Capital Markets

There has been a widespread evolution in the financial industry since 2002, in regards to software and hardware.  New companies were emerging all over the world without even considering the requirement of an online presence or need for specialized software. GPS Capital Markets is a prime example of how important software development is to companies of every type of business. In 2002, when the founding partners at GPS began to look at employment and financial needs for their company, development resources were zero.  Not one dime or a person.GPS is a foreign exchange solutions provider that was founded as a sales organization. 

  ​Bringing development in-house can give management an opportunity to cultivate the institutional knowledge that is vital to developing a system that truly meets the clients’ needs  

Like GPS, many of these companies started off using an ‘off the shelf’ product to manage a sales force, client information and/or accounting. Not many companies at that time would ever consider themselves as a software development company.  

As a company looks for growth in their industry or sector, they will often look at ways to improve their processes, their sales team and will seek for more upgraded off the shelf software packages that can fit their needs as closely as possible. There is a lot of benefit in sticking to what you know.   

Hiring a new salesperson to increase sales seems like the most logical answer. It is easy to hire them when you are familiar with what questions to ask in an interview. You know the skills set you are looking for; have a compensation package already in place and can give the training that is required to hire an effective employee.  Most importantly, there is a direct correlation between that employee’s production and the increased sales.

Increasing sales through creating an in-house development team, when that is not your business model, may seem out of the box, but it definitely has some advantages (and disadvantages). GPS took those steps over the last 14 years and has worked through the growing pains and seen the benefits that come with it.

The world is ever increasingly a virtual world. The consumer is very comfortable with finding a customized solution to fit their needs.  If one solution is not a perfect fit, there is a quick way to research the world and find the right solution. Your clients are doing that right now. If they are not getting what they need from you, they are out there searching for the answer. Being able to quickly and effectively answer questions and provide solutions is vital. To wait in a priority queue and not having the ability to monitor the changes you need, will become a stumbling block that you may not be able to get over. Telling the client that you can’t meet their need because of a software limitation is not a solution and could even end the customer relationship.

Often times the first stab at this is to go the outsourcing route. The advantage here is that you do not need to hire multiple employees to write code. You don’t have to worry about getting the right tools set because, in theory your outsourced company will have the complete tool set to complete your project.  They will manage the development and QA testing. Be aware though that there will be a draw from your resources to sit down and come up with requirements, help write up scope documents and someone will need to be available to review the product as you go along to ensure that the project is meeting the needs.  

A difference in vocabulary and a lack of institutional knowledge might create difficulty for you as the project hits a wall or needs to be redirected. Customer needs will almost ensure that you will find it necessary for tweaks and adjustments and you will find yourself back in the priority queue.

Bringing development in-house can give management an opportunity to cultivate the institutional knowledge that is vital to developing a system that truly meets the clients’ needs. The software that actually fits your needs rather than manually fitting the processes to the software you are using. Instead of just seeing a list of requirements on a page, the new employees can see the company in action and really assess the company needs. They get to sit down and see the day to day success and struggles of an operations team. The day to day, ‘make do’s’ of the organization can be addressed so that you get an efficient process for your employees and they can turn their focus to growing the business. One can now create their own priority queue and ensure that their clients’ needs are being addressed in the desired order.

GPS was able to recognize some great advantages to make in this shift. Systems and tools are being created to address the client needs. There is no more trying to get the client needs to fit within the constraints of an ‘off the shelf’ software. Management is able to look over the development needs, manage the priorities and adjust them as time goes on and other needs increase. The development team has an understanding of what the company needs rather than just trying to cross requirements off a page. This has led to a huge increase in the innovation of tools.

The operations team at GPS has been able to process 300 percent more transactions over the last 3 years without adding new employees. The number of clients has increased by 40 percent.

The management team has been able to add some third party tools (i.e. Cloudflare) on top of its software to increase security and productivity, all while being able to monitor how it affects the company tools and quickly makes adjustments without having to reach out to a vendor and wait for changes to the software. An in-house development team may not be right for every company for many reasons but often times out-of-the-box thinking can bring a systems solution to a non-systems issue.