Any professional racing driver will tell you that there is no such thing as too much power. Give them a new, 1,000-horsepower engine and after five laps, they will pull into the pits and say: “Great, but can you give me 1,100bhp?”
It is just the same with software – especially software that is as versatile as most modern applications are. No matter how powerful, flexible or easy-to-use the application, as soon as users get to grips with it, they will find it doesn’t quite do exactly what they want it to. Or they will want it to make it just that bit easier to perform a certain function, or perhaps to batch a number of functions together.
This isn’t plain greed or customers being niggly; on the contrary, it’s actually a compliment that shows the original application is proving useful. It simply underlines that there is no such thing as the perfect program.
Invariably, users don’t tell you exactly what they want from the outset. What they will tell you is the improvements they want on top of what they already have. And this is where third-party developers and their plug-in products enter the picture.
Every so often, users will ask: “How can I do this?” or “Is there something that can help me do that?” So if a handful of people ask for the ability to mask off an area of a PDF document, or to suppress a logo or some sensitive information that they don’t want others to see, there’s a development opportunity for someone who can fulfil an emerging need.
Third-party developers’ products give resellers a great opportunity to go back to their customers for incremental sales on top of established software.
So, what should you look for in a third-party developer? Firstly, does the developer have the endorsement of the main vendor’s partner programme? This should be considered essential.
Secondly, how closely are the third-party developers’ products tied to those of the main vendor? The developer should license and use the main vendor’s core technology in developing plug-ins to ensure reliability and glitch-free use.
Thirdly, can you evaluate the product before you buy to ensure it does what you want? If you can’t do this, it may undermine your reasons for buying the plug-in.
Finally, can the developer offer user references and continuing support for the plug-in? This is the acid test all third-party developers need to pass to prove that they are in it for the long haul.
Michael Peters is director of software at Mapsoft.
Infrastructure provider says international sales now make up 51 per cent of its revenue
Suzanne Chappell of TMS plans sailing venture after selling Oxfordshire-based TMS to acquisitive Chess
Withdrawal of credit insurance by some providers a 'reflection' of current challenge facing IT sector, according to MD Steve Soper
SMART's UK managing director joins Lenovo to boost SMB business