Software Terms You Must Know – Welcome To The Tribe!

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No one likes jargon!

But every industry has it.

My heart pumps 10X when I hear Accounting teams in quick succession.

Oh, we need to look at our Cashflow, EBIT and rethink Chart Of Account structure.

For this, my brain may register – There is some Accounting work. That is all!

How about a software jargon?

Consider this, for example:

Our ERP is the next-gen SaaS Solution!

If you are a non-technical Businessperson, your brain may register – Hmm, the software may be good!

However, if you are sponsoring a software project, then you must take time to learn the key terms asap. Take time to understand them and lead the team from front!

In this post, I have covered fundamental software terms that you must know. Terms such as – ERP, SaaS, COTS will never overwhelm you. I will rip apart this jargon forever.

It is time to register facts and take notes, so pay full attention!

Getting back to basics – What is a software?

Software is a set of instructions for a computer system to cater for specific business needs. For example, consider a Calculator app on your computer. Developers have written instructions to perform Addition, Subtraction and so on. These set of instructions are collectively known as software.

Every interaction you are having on your computer, mobile or a tablet is via a software.

Ok! We covered some primary ground.

But what about the jargon that IT people confuse us all?

Let us get right into it!

For simplification, I categorise software into the following groups:

  1. Purpose
  2. Development
  3. Hosting

1. Purpose

We group software based on its purpose. Based on the primary purpose of the software, we set them into the following groups. Note that there can be more groups. The following are for illustration purposes only:

  • Enterprise software
  • System software
  • Specialised software

Let us now understand each type in detail.

Enterprise software

The Enterprise software caters for your end-to-end business needs. Let us consider a Manufacturing business with the following processes – Inventory/Warehouse, Production, Distribution, Marketing/Sales, HR/Payroll, Procurement and Finance

The above functions have a high interdependency. For example, Production planning needs information from inventory and sales orders. The Enterprise software automates all the operation within the Manufacturing organisation. You can manage your Inventory, Production, Dispatch, and other functions within one software.

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) is one of the most common Enterprise software. ERP has its roots in the Manufacturing industry. But, modern ERP supports various industry verticals (e.g. Professional Services, Retail). ERP is a collection of integrated modules (e.g. Production, Finance, Supply Chain). Based on your business and industry, the ERP vendor implements relevant modules.

We use Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to manage enterprise-wide end-to-end sales operations. We use Human Capital Management (HCM) to manage all Human Resource management processes.

In summary, this software has enterprise-wide reach. They are built to meet end-to-end business needs.

System Software

The purpose of a System software is to run your computer systems. We also call them an Operating system. You need an Operating system to run all computer devices—for example:

  • Microsoft Windows 365 for PC
  • macOS for Macintosh
  • Android OS for Android phones
  • iOS for Apple phones

You need specific Operating system for Servers, Smartwatches, Mobile phones, Tablets and Computers. It is the first software that you need before you can use any other application on your device. It manages the resources of your device to give you most from the hardware.

Specialised software

It is a collection of software types based on industry specialist needs. Consider the following examples:

  • Business software: You use these applications for specific business purpose – for example, Microsoft Word for word processing. Excel for mathematical calculation and modelling. The other examples are Expense management, electronic Document approval, Customer Surveys and so on.
  • Mobile Apps: The apps use Mobile ecosystem (System software and hardware) for specific operation. e.g. Google Maps app use your GPS location to guide directions.
  • Middleware: It helps software to interoperate. It is a translation service between Operating system and Application software. So, you need a Middleware to get a given Application software to run on Operating system
  • Security software: It helps your computer device to protect from virus attacks. It protects your privacy and data.
  • Virus: It is a specialist software that attacks/cripples other software and execute a pre-determined plan (e.g. steal data)

2. Development

Under this category, we group software based on ownership of its development. Let us consider the following groups under the Development category:

Readymade

There is a vast market of readymade software that is available to buy and ready to use. You can adjust specific software settings based on your business needs. You can integrate the software with other software as well. We refer to this type as Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) software.

Custom software

You develop Custom software based on your specific needs. It makes sense to pay for custom development if COTS software can not meet your business needs. You may build custom software for a new unique product or service. It can be an original, ground-breaking start-up app. The Custom software is also known as Bespoke software.

Hybrid

It is a mix of COTS and custom software. Many COTS software provides a framework for custom development. So, you undertake custom software development to cover for any gaps in the COTS software. For example – Excel Macros. We get MS Excel (COTS software) for our day to day tasks and write MS Excel macros to automate manual processes. Similarly, we write custom software on ERP to meet the business-specific needs

3. Hosting

All software needs a storage space. There are many options available now. In this group, we segregate software based on its hosting.

On-Prem

It is a traditional way of storing software in your infrastructure (Servers). You handle procuring and maintaining infrastructure. You are responsible for maintaining and keeping software up to date.

SaaS

The software vendors handle providing storage space for the software and your data. You pay a subscription fee. The vendor takes care of all the software hosting requirements. Vendor also manages all software and infrastructure maintenance and upgrade activities.

Note that it is not a complete list as you are not going to sit in a university exam – hopefully! The post intends to familiarise with the standard terms.

Software is everywhere, from smartwatch to the car you drive. If you ever are involved in a software implementation, then you must learn software terms.

Remember, to be in the game; you must know its rules. Thus, take some time to educate yourself. You will be able to drive the team with confidence and have a positive contribution.

These terms are quite simple, but if you do not involve in software projects on regular bases, then you may forget it. So, save this page, subscribe to the blog, email it to yourself before you move on!

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