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  • Writer's pictureMarcin Małaszuk

How Value-Added Services Can Increase Profit Margin In Software Development Firm

Updated: Sep 21


Cover Photo: How Finding a niche & value added services can increase profit margin in software development

Table of Content:


Introduction

Why Finding a Niche Can Increase Profit Margins

Exploring Value-Added Services

What are Value-added services (VAS)?

Explanation and examples of value-added services in logistics & supply chain (from 1PL to 6PL providers)

Explanation and examples of value-added services in software development

Discussion on how value-added services can enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty

Pros for adding value services

Cons for adding value services

3 key element of adding value to your service by Brian Tracy

Find Your Niche

Practical steps form the mentioned article are following:

Market research: Understanding the needs of your target audience

Implement, test, review, adjust, repeat

Who can afford bringing value added to the portfolio?

Conclusion



Introduction


The software development industry is a vibrant, ever-evolving landscape characterized by rapid technological advancements and fierce competition. With a forecasted Global IT market value (according to Equiteq) reaching $6.2 trillion in 2026 and its subsegment of Custom Software Development reaching $120 billion in 2026, the industry hosts a multitude of players, each vying for a piece of the lucrative profit pie. Profit margins, therefore, become a critical measure of success, reflecting the efficiency and profitability of a company's operations.


However, in this saturated market, standing out requires more than just technical proficiency; it requires a unique value proposition. That's where the concept of 'finding a niche' comes into play. By specializing in a specific domain or solving unique problems, companies can tailor their services to meet the needs of a specific audience, creating a strong competitive edge.


But carving out a niche is only half the battle won. The real game-changer is what is behind, the implementation of value-added services. These are supplementary services or features that enhance the core offering, boosting customer satisfaction and, consequently, loyalty. A well-defined niche combined with value-added services can lead to increased differentiation, customer retention, and ultimately, higher profit margins. In this post, we will explore how technical founders and CEOs of custom software development companies can leverage this strategy to reap substantial benefits.



Why Finding a Niche Can Increase Profit Margins


The essence of finding a niche in the software development industry lies in the power of specialization. When a company specializes in a particular domain or technology, it builds unparalleled expertise and credibility that generic competitors can't match. This deep-rooted expertise not only attracts a specific audience but also allows companies to command higher prices for their unique, top-quality services. The reason is simple - when customers perceive that they are getting specialized services tailored to their specific needs, they are more willing to pay a premium for it. This strategy, therefore, can significantly boost profit margins by increasing both revenue and customer loyalty.


To illustrate this point further, we have released a separate article showcasing a series of case studies from both big and small, and importantly, successful software development companies. These companies have successfully navigated their journey towards specialization and found their niche, thereby creating a unique competitive advantage and driving their profitability.


Read Case study: Successful software development companies who've found their niche

Photo & link to the article about examples of finding a niche and specialisation among software development / softwarehouses leaders



Exploring Value-Added Services

  • Explanation and examples of value-added services in logistics & supply chain (from 1PL to 6PL providers)

  • Explanation and examples of value-added services in software development

  • Discussion on how these services can enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty


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What are Value-added services (VAS)?


Value-added services (VAS) are additional offerings that businesses provide to enhance customer experience, setting them apart from competitors. These are not the core services a company offers, but rather, they complement those primary services, adding value to them. VAS can range from technical support, personalized customer portals, extended warranties, free upgrades, to business consultancy and training sessions.


Let's dive into another industry to see how value adding services are incrementally added to the portfolio of growing companies that search for higher margins. Let's learn how it looks like in Supply Chain and later let's try to translate it into software development business.




Explanation and examples of value-added services in logistics & supply chain (from 1PL to 6PL providers)


Great example of adding value in services is visible in Supply Chain. I am providing this example because of two reasons.

  1. The industry made that evolution very clear and descriptive. They have coined special terms for each of the steps. So having that process in mind you can try to imagine how adding new value-added services can be applied into a custom software development business. The sky is a limit and your imagination and capabilities is the key.

  2. For quite a time I worked in supply chain and build SaaS services for supply chain, so it is kind of pleasant sentiment :).

The evolution of logistics, from 1PL to 6PL, represents a paradigm shift in supply chain management, with each step providing a greater level of service and complexity.


First-party logistics (1PL), the most basic form of logistics, involves a manufacturer or a provider who has full control over their logistics. They are responsible for the transportation and storage of goods.


Second-party logistics (2PL) providers offer transportation services, typically owning assets like trucks, ships, or planes. They cater to businesses that want to outsource their transportation but maintain control over other aspects of their supply chain.


Third-party logistics (3PL) providers offer a broader range of services, including transportation, warehousing, picking and packing, inventory forecasting, order fulfillment, and freight forwarding. Businesses opt for 3PLs when they want to focus more on their core competencies and outsource their logistics operations.


Fourth-party logistics (4PL) providers, also known as lead logistics providers (LLPs), act as a single interface between the client and multiple logistics service providers. They are responsible for managing the entire supply chain, including 3PLs, truckers, forwarders, custom house agents, and others.



Fifth-party logistics (5PL) providers emerged with the advent of e-commerce and the internet. They aggregate the demands of multiple 3PLs and 4PLs, negotiate rates, and book space with airlines, ship lines, and truckers, using the power of digital technology to optimize service and cost. In general the 5PL provider manages it's client's supply chain.


Sixth-party logistics (6PL) providers, a relatively new concept, focus on the integration of 4PL and 5PL providers, offering business intelligence, big data analytics, and advanced reporting to provide a holistic view of the supply chain. They aim to further optimize the supply chain, add value, and assist in strategic decision-making.



Differences between value added services in Supply Chain
An overview of 1PL-5PL service inclusion. Source: https://dfreight.org/blog/how-are-3pl-4pl-5pl-different/

As we can see, the journey from 1PL to 6PL represents a gradual transfer of control, responsibility, and complexity from the company to the logistics provider, allowing businesses to focus more on their core operations, and logistic provider to deliver much more complex services on soaring margins.




Explanation and examples of value-added services in software development


Similarly, in the world of custom software development, the progression from simply providing code to delivering comprehensive value-added services represents a transformation that can significantly increase profit margins. At the heart of this change is the concept of finding a niche, where companies can offer unique, specialized services that differentiate them from their competition.


Examples of Value Added Services that Software Development Company can offer: Business Consulting, Technological Consulting, Marketing Services, Maintenance & Support, Testing Services.
Examples of Value Added Services that Software Development Company can offer


Among these value-added services, consulting takes center stage.


Business consulting helps identify the client's specific needs, pain points, and objectives, ensuring that the software solution aligns seamlessly with their business strategy and goals.


Technological consulting, on the other hand, guides clients through the complex landscape of technology, making recommendations on the most appropriate tech stack, architecture, and design patterns to adopt.



Testing services are another critical value-added offering. A robust testing strategy ensures the software's functionality, reliability, and performance, minimizing the risk of post-deployment issues and enhancing user satisfaction.


Further, a comprehensive maintenance and support service can facilitate software updates, bug fixes, and system optimization, ensuring the software remains relevant and performs optimally over time.


Security services, including threat assessment, encryption, and firewall configuration, can preserve the integrity and confidentiality of customer data. These services are particularly vital in today's cyber threat landscape and can instill confidence in clients about the safety of their data.


Lastly, marketing services, which might include SEO, content marketing, performance marketing (PPC) and social media strategy, help to promote the developed software, ensuring it reaches the intended audience and generates the desired impact. Service especially interesting for Startups that want to kick off fast and get first revenue.


It's not uncommon for founders to believe that offering mix of software development and other complementary services. The companies have successfully blended software development and marketing, consulting, product development services under one roof, not only driving value for their clients but also increasing their own profit margins.



Few great examples of such companies that provide Value Added Services are:

  • SoftServe (Ukraine); they transformed from Software Development Vendor to a consulting company with Business Consulting Services with area specialisation in Supply Chain, Retail, Fintech etc. https://www.softserveinc.com/en-us/industries/retail This means that the client not only receives software development service, but also advisory on the best practices from the industry.

Photo of Aleksandr Yavlinsky from SoftServe
When working with enterprise clients, it’s important to keep in mind that regardless of which functional area is being represented by your stakeholders, the ultimate goal is always about creating a business outcome and value. In our supply chain practice, we see ourselves as hands-on advisers to our clients on how to solve their business challenges and reap the benefits from the opportunities around them. From manufacturing to order management, from sourcing to reverse logistics, we are there for our clients to get to the bottom of the issue, and then hand-in-hand deliver the best possible solution. This approach allows us to step in early and create more tangible results. We are able to assist throughout the whole journey and, consequently, drive faster “time-to-value” for our customers.
Oleksandr Yavlinsky, Associate Director, Retail & Supply Chain Practice Lead, Product Management & Business Analysis CoE at SoftServe

  • Boldare (Poland) digital design and software development agency offers services like Product Strategist https://www.boldare.com/blog/the-role-of-product-strategist/ or CTO as a Service: https://www.boldare.com/work/cto-as-a-service-solves-the-problems-of-a-us-digital-product-company/ . Those services seems to be of hight value for startups that struggle with talent finding or they lack of time or resources required to run those critical recruitment processes.

  • Big Innovaion Centre (UK) is company that focus on Blockchain Development but offers broad commecialisation services to their clients: https://biginnovationcentre.com/services/ . For startups, commercialisation of their products or services is the top priority, and when the development company can help in that process, that seems to be a way to get speed advantage.

  • Winged IT (Poland) is an IT recruitment and it outsourcing company that offers their clients consulting and services that help them do soft-landing on the Polish market. Great offer that one cannot refuse.

Photo of Wiktor Tarnawski, Winged IT CEO
At Winged IT, recruitment and outstaffing are our core business. However, we serve our international clients – especially those that just entered Poland – with many VASs such as legal advisory, assistance in applying for EU grants, office space rental, and others. This makes our offer definitely more attractive, and clients enjoy our complex support. They often choose us instead of competitors since we may help them in all fields they require.
Wiktor Tarnawski, CEO of Winged IT



By focusing on these niche, value-added services, custom software development companies can build stronger client relationships, differentiate themselves from competitors, and ultimately increase their profit margins, serving the most demanding clients who search for solutions of complex and demanding challenges. But, let's come back to this topic in the next paragraph.



Discussion on how value-added services can enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty


As we dive into the realm of value-added services, it's worth bearing in mind the potent impact these services can have on your software development business. Irrespective of the industry, from logistics and supply chain to software development, value-added services serve as a powerful tool to elevate customer satisfaction and foster loyalty.

You bring much more value to the client when you solve more complex issues.

And remember, it's not always about what you deliver; often, it's how you deliver it that can make all the difference.


Pros for adding value services


Value Added Services should bring so much value so you can introduce higher margins and pricing
It's about delivering more value.

  1. Diversification of Revenue Stream: Introducing value-added services creates an additional revenue stream for your business. It's like having a financial safety net; if one part of your business is struggling, you have something else to fall back on.

  2. Improved Client Retention: Value-added services often lead to higher customer satisfaction, as you're providing more comprehensive solutions to your clients' problems. This, in turn, fosters loyalty and increases customer retention rates, which are significantly more cost-effective than acquiring new clients.

  3. Competitive Differentiator: In a saturated market, providing value-added services makes your company stand out from the crowd. This unique selling point can be the factor that sways a potential client to choose your company over a competitor.

  4. Greater Profit Margins: Given that value-added services typically come at a premium, they can help increase your overall profit margins. Clients are often willing to pay more for these services because they recognize the additional value they provide.

  5. Enhanced Brand Reputation: By consistently delivering high-quality value-added services, you can enhance your brand's reputation. This not only helps with client retention, but also attracts new clients through positive word-of-mouth and increased visibility in your industry.


Cons for adding value services



Adding value added services to your portfolio can bring headache to you and your team.
Manager's headache

  1. Costly Implementation: Adding value-added services often involves significant upfront costs. This may include investment in new technology, staff training, or even hiring new employees. For businesses operating on slim margins, these costs can be prohibitive.

  2. Increased Complexity: Introducing new services to your portfolio can lead to increased complexity and management challenges. Businesses must ensure they have the capacity and expertise to effectively manage these additional services without compromising the quality of their core offerings.

  3. Risk of Distraction: The focus required to develop and deliver value-added services can potentially distract from the core operations of the business. There is a risk of spreading resources too thin, which can lead to a decline in the quality of the main services.

  4. Client Resistance: Not all clients will see the value in these added services, and some might resist paying for things they believe should be included in their basic package. This resistance can strain client relationships and may require significant marketing efforts to overcome.

  5. Dependence on External Factors: Some value-added services may depend on external factors, such as partnerships with other businesses or changes in technology. These dependencies can pose unpredictable risks that impact the delivery and success of these services.


3 key element of adding value to your service by Brian Tracy


Jumping to a partially different approach, I came across a video from Brian Tracy (one of the most recognizable business coaches worldwide, at least to me) in which he pointed out three key strategies to add value to your work and increase your profit margin.

The keys to great victories are usually speed, surprise, and concentration. They work in business too.
Brian Tracy



First, speed plays a defining role in the perceived value of your offering. In the software industry, the ability to deliver services swiftly signifies competence and high-quality output.

Second, the element of surprise enhances your value proposition. When the market is saturated with similar offerings, you must 'plus' your service with unexpected perks or innovative features. Simplification of processes and usage methods can serve as your winning 'plus'.


Lastly, concentration implies delivering superior quality than your competitors at the same price. As CEOs or technical founders, our aim should be to discern our customers' needs and fulfil them more swiftly and effectively than our competitors. Enhancing the convenience of purchase, engaging clients minimally, and improving customer service are vital aspects of quality management that, when executed well, can substantially increase profit margins.


In essence, the integration of value-added services into your core offering, such as software development, can potentially impede your speed and dilute your focus. However, carving out a specific niche for your business can mitigate these challenges. The niche-focus equips you with in-depth knowledge and a profound understanding of your clients' needs, enabling you to deliver services at an accelerated pace, bring unexpected value to the table, and maintain a laser-like focus on serving your set group of clients. This strategic approach not only enhances the perceived value of your services but can also lead to a significant increase in profit margins.



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Finding Your Niche

Identifying your unique skills and strengths


In the hustle and bustle of the software development industry, the concept of 'finding a niche' attracts a significant amount of buzz. Despite its popularity, there is a noticeable deficit in practical information and a scarcity of professionals who give pragmatic advice on this topic.

To address this problem I have wrote for you a complete guide on niche marketing and presented there process that you can copy & paste to clarify you business strategy and get specialised.

Link to the article: https://www.growmy.tech/post/niche-for-a-software-house-is-a-top-tactic



Practical steps form the mentioned article are following:


  1. Start from your experience and client portfolio. See which industry you work with most frequently, and your knowledge is most extensive to narrow potential niches.

  2. Reflect yours and your team passion and interests. These will help you create powerful communication, and your target customers & potential clients will notice that passion.

  3. Identify your ideal client and buyer personas' potential problems. See if you know how to help them or how to grow your expertise within the broader market.

  4. Research firms that are your new competition segment. Some verticals are more competitive, and some are less. Check the situation and reasons for that.

  5. Define a number of potential niches.

  6. And now, try to evaluate them against a list of factors that will determine your success.



Market research: Understanding the needs of your target audience


In the pursuit of finding a niche, one essential step is to take the time to thoroughly analyze your audience's needs. Understanding what your customers require, what they value, and how they make decisions is pivotal in fine-tuning your services to meet their specific needs. This analysis is not a task that can be rushed; it requires diligent research, deep introspection, and, most importantly, a willingness to adapt and evolve. To guide you in this crucial process, I recommend referring to two of my previous articles: "Target Audience Analysis for B2B Software Firms" part 1 - the Frame, part 2 - the Tools. These articles provide insight into effective strategies for audience analysis and offer practical tips on how to adapt your offerings based on the insights gained. The goal is clear: by delivering value-added services tailored to a specific niche, you can significantly increase your profit margin.






Implement, test, review, adjust, repeat



The process of testing potential niches is crucial to ascertain the value proposition's viability and its alignment with the market demands. This is not a one-and-done task; it echoes the scientific method, requiring the setting of hypotheses based on your experience and insights gleaned from your clients. These hypotheses must then be continually tested, verified, and modified in response to the ever-changing market dynamics. This iterative process ensures your niche selection remains relevant, competitive, and profitable. It's like fine-tuning a high-performance engine—you tweak, test, and optimize until you hit that sweet spot of maximum efficiency and performance.


In a research on how successful case studies you will find that finding a niche or building a specialisation is a process. This is a path of constant test and verifications.

[link to the case study].



Who can afford bringing value added to the portfolio?


Ok, so who shall think about bringing value-added services into their profolio?

My list is a follows:

  • companies with defined niche

  • companies that have unique internal industry know how

  • companies that have some internal industry know how but that are open to mastering the industry specifics,

  • companies that can afford extra investment. For example hiring industry consultants.

  • companies that are proficient in building connections, networking or recruitment, so that can find extra resources link industry consultant on demand to cover missing know how until they will not build pipeline of leads from the niche.

I am aware that the list might have been longer, but as you see from this short sample, quite a lot depends on you attitude, flexibility and willingness to adapt.

The world is yours.



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Conclusion


In closing, it's apparent that finding a niche and offering value-added services are not mere business strategies, but game-changers that can significantly bolster your profit margin. Identifying a niche is a meticulous process of exploration and adaptation, but it allows you to become an expert in a specific field, enabling you to command higher rates and win customer loyalty. Meanwhile, providing value-added services, while requiring additional investments and resources, heightens your business's perceived value and sets you apart from the competition.


So, dear founders and CEOs, it's time to seize the opportunity. With the right attitude, flexibility, and willingness to adapt, you can transform your software development company into an industry leader. Remember, in this arena of constant evolution, fortune favors the bold. So, dare to specialize, dare to add value, and watch as your profit margin soars. The world, indeed, is yours!





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