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Custom Development

One approach to developing an Internet commerce application is to create a custom application, with the development inside or outside the organization. The advantage, of course, is that the application, if developed successfully, will presumably meet the requirements of a specific business. In addition, a custom application may be better integrated with other systems at a particular business. These advantages are especially strong when the market for packaged application products for Internet commerce applications is still young and the products are evolving quickly.

On the other hand, there are several potential problems with custom solutions, and they should be considered carefully in a “make or buy” decision. First, rapid development is not always quality development. One of the attractions of custom development for Internet commerce applications is to “get something up fast.” Indeed, it is not very hard to put together a simple catalog on a Web server, perhaps with a basic order form to collect credit card numbers. Sometimes it is important to get a system running quickly—to establish a presence on the Internet—but that short-term system may not be what is needed in the long term. How does it integrate with other systems? How is customer service handled? How does the system evolve with new technology? How are the security issues addressed? If Internet commerce is a strategic direction for the business, and not just a tactical demonstration, it should be approached with an idea of the long-term directions.


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