Custom Code for profit

28 April 2023

We write a lot of custom code but we don’t do it for billable hours. Custom code is expensive and it requires care and feeding. Once that code is deployed it needs regular maintenance and adjustment so we only use it when:

  • we know we can support it for years;
  • we know our client can afford years of ongoing support;
  • it is the best way forward;

Sadly, or if you ask my accountant thankfully, a lot of consulting firms do not do this. Instead, they push custom code as if it is the only answer. And they charge through the nose for it. Months later when you want fixes they’ve changed their business and won’t take your calls.

One of my clients had a vendor sell them on custom code for a WordPress site. In general there is nothing wrong with this. Unfortunately, in this case there was a plug-in that already solved the problem. On top of this the shady consulting firm built their custom code on top of that plug-in. Their code didn’t add any new features unless you consider instability a feature. Fast forward a year and the code breaks. Our initial assessment was that the custom code must be doing something. I suggested they reach out to the vendor for a fix. The vendor said, “No problem. We’ll fix our broken code for lots and lots of money.”

Our client didn’t want to pay this ransom and turned to us for an answer. We suggested more custom code because I want a boat. Then my conscience got the better of me (and a boat is a lot like custom code). We threw out the custom code, read the plug-ins manual and provided the best solution for our client. Next time your vendor suggests custom code is the only answer push back a little more to find out if this is true.