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Why custom development is not what you think it is

Custom development is not what you think it is

One of the biggest misconceptions of custom development? That it’s something only large enterprises or software-centric companies should be considering, while in fact it benefits almost every business with a digital footprint that stretches beyond Office.

Custom business applications

When we talk about Debreuck Neirynck, we often talk about what makes us special, namely our love for functional programming to model and build business applications. But in truth, functional programming is just a means to an end. Our true belief lies not in the tools we use, but what we produce, and that is custom business applications.

Wim Debreuck

And who better to talk about Debreuck Neirynck’s vision than Wim Debreuck himself? In this interview, we talked with Wim about the ‘whens and hows’ of custom development, his experiences as a software veteran and his view on what constitutes proper software.

Hi Wim, first of all, would you mind telling us a bit more about yourself?

Sure, my name is Wim Debreuck, and as you could probably guess I am one of the two founders of Debreuck Neirynck. I started out as an analyst-programmer in 1990, so I’ve been around for quite some time now. After working as a software consultant I met my co-founder Wout Neirynck on an assignment and we basically concluded that we could do software development better than the others. And the rest, as they say, is history!

Our topic of the day is custom development, what does that mean for you?

When it comes to custom development we have a bit of a philosophical, idealistic view: building software is not just about writing code, but making lives easier! For us, seeing the impact of our software is absolutely crucial and a big part of why we love our jobs.

DN does not have a specific target market, in fact we do very little sales at all. Our clients have a way of finding us when they are in need of our services. These clients are extremely diverse, ranging from logistics planners to diamond resellers, but they all have one thing in common: they have specific, often complex optimization needs that aren’t covered by standard software solutions.

Who should be looking at custom development?

These days almost every company should be treating their software as first class citizens. Almost every department of a modern business has software as a crucial backbone, so taking the time to make sure your software works exactly according to your needs can have a huge positive impact on how well your business runs.

That’s actually one of the biggest misconceptions of custom development: that it’s something only large enterprises or software-centric companies should be considering, while in fact it benefits almost every business with a digital footprint that stretches beyond Office.

What are some other common misconceptions?

Well first is probably cost: a lot of people think that custom development is a costly alternative to prebuilt solutions, meaning you build everything from scratch, while they are in fact meant to complement each other. Think of it like building a house: you’re not going to make everything from scratch, but you use premade bricks and then mortar to fill in the gaps. Modern custom software development uses increasingly larger and more complex prebuilt components to build applications, only using ‘pure code’ when no prebuilt components exist.

Second is that custom development is a ‘luxury’ solution, something that you invest in when you have money to spare to make your company run more comfortably. I would argue that software is often one of the most important differentiating factors between competitors, and recent history has shown that companies investing in software are often the most successful. Even though they are retailers at core and not software companies, could you imagine Amazon or Bol running on a generic ecommerce platform? 

Having control over your own software stack also means that you are more agile when it comes to making changes to your platforms. The digital world is moving fast, and making sure you can adapt to changing conditions has always been a core challenge for businesses.

Finally, we got to ask: how does this tie into functional programming?

As mentioned, functional programming is our favorite tool to build custom software solutions and the reason is again somewhat philosophical. Custom software is all about modeling reality as closely as possible, making sure that every real-life use case requirement is supported by the software. This process is never complete, meaning you want to model reality in a way that also allows you to flexibly extend this model without having to start from scratch. Functional programming allows us to do just that: model reality in a clear, concise and most importantly extendable way.

Looking for a custom software solution? Or maybe you’re a programmer, intrigued by the benefits of clean code custom development? Either way, don’t hesitate to get in touch!




We put our passion for code into revolutionary software to create a future-proof solution for our clients.

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