Should my company go for custom or off-the-shelf software? What will better suit my needs? This is probably one of the most asked questions by business owners around the globe. And while for many people the choice can really be one of the biggest trials and tribulations of running a business, in reality, to choose the type of software your business needs is a breeze when understanding your needs and learning the difference between custom and off-the-shelf software right from the get-go.
So, if you are still on the fence, let’s cut to the chase and find out what the custom and off-the-shelf software are and why you should choose this or that approach. Let’s jump into the difference “off-the-shelf software vs custom software” right now!
What is custom application development?
Custom software development allows building software according to the customer’s unique needs and way of doing business. The need for custom software development has never been greater, as no businesses are perfectly the same. So no software or solution can suit any business whatsoever. The solution that can be applied to others may not necessarily be applicable to your business.
The benefits of custom software development include an opportunity to design solutions to your exact process and needs. Other custom software development advantages include scalability, fast changes, security, and unlimited options.
Among the top custom software development disadvantages there are a high initial cost, risk of hiring the wrong team and engineers, time-consuming solutions development and implementation, and the absence of testing for all business cases (you can discover the problem during software use).
What is off-the-shelf/commercial software?
Commercial software can only be as custom as the company that developed it allows. So, basically, that means that there will be many unused features in it. In this case, your business needs to adapt to its capabilities. Or, on the other side, it may lack some important for you features, if it does not include them. It may also be impossible to add them.
However, off-the-shelf/generic software does have its benefits. So what are they? First things first, it’s cheaper than the custom software. Secondly, it’s easier to install it, as many people already know how to use it. It is also more reliable because it went through several rounds of testings before you bought it.
Generic software disadvantages include a higher customization cost, slow changes, and numerous annoying features.
Custom software is becoming more popular these days because it is the only opportunity for businesses to implement their unique ideas.
Suffice it to say that you can go for off-the-shelf products only if you have generic requirements. If you need creative solutions for your customers – custom software development is your choice.
Getting an overview of the main advantages and disadvantages of bespoke and generic software development and the situations to use them in, it’s easier to make up your mind what type of software development your business needs. Considering that businesses often face different and complex situations where generic software just can’t perform the job, and custom software can help you be ahead of competitors and improve your business solutions, I offer to have a closer look at the reasons why more and more businesses around the globe are choosing this type of software and why you may also need to go for it. Here we go!
Reason #1 Higher level of security.
Bespoke software requires more effort to hack because it’s developed specifically for your company. A great number of attacks are targeted at commonly-used software. The use of the same software by numerous companies allows hackers to use similar vulnerabilities for the systems of different companies. What is more, they can buy this software and investigate it from the inside to find such vulnerabilities. One of the most prominent benefits of custom software is that it is predominately used by your own team, hence hackers find it difficult to enter your system through vulnerable portions of your software tools (as it can be done through generic/off-the-shelf software).
Reason #2 Lower cost in a long-term perspective.
Custom software doesn’t require constant licenses payment, which makes its use very profitable in the long run. Besides, in custom software, you create only those functions that your business requires, efficiently using the minimum required server hardware and capacities.
Reason #3 Staying ahead of competitors.
Individual solutions tailored to your needs can help your business make a profit and develop more effectively, which allows making more money and staying ahead of the competitors.
Reason #4 Efficiency.
One more custom software benefit is that it is used to increase the productivity of your business because now it is tailored to your business needs. You don’t need to spend time and money to adapt it to your requirements. So you can focus on the key for your company matters.
Reason #5 Scalability.
With custom software, your team is ready to take up your requests at any time and improve or update features for you. With the growth of your business, your processes will become more complex and sophisticated. But that’s not a big deal, as you can easily scale your software accordingly. That also leads us to another advantage of custom software, which is cost.
Reason #6 No extra expenses for excess features.
Another custom software advantage is that it gives you an opportunity to spend money only on those features and functionalities that your business needs. This also increases your business efficiency as you can focus on key for your company features rather than being confused.
Reason #7 Easy integration.
You don’t have to worry whether your software will work with the existing applications. By getting custom software, you leverage integration with your other business applications. The benefit of custom software is that it can fit within any company’s software ecosystem smoothly and in an untroubled way.
Reason #8 Design.
You can customize your software design according to your company’s style with no design limitations. In other words, custom software allows maximizing your business potential and getting rid of off-the-shelf software limitations. Considering that everyone uses mobile phones in the modern world, a mobile-responsive design is crucial for any business. Generic software applications are often not adapted to mobile connectivity, which is a great disadvantage for the company using them. Custom software, on the other hand, gives connectivity to all devices, hence you can increase usability, and there is no interruption to processes or workflow.
Reason #9 Licence agreement.
You own all software rights and the code behind it. So, you have more control over future modifications and changes of your software with the expansion of your business. In the case of off-the-shelf software, you pay regular fees to use someone else’s product. That means you follow their rules, functionalities, updates, and regulations. If you decide to stop using your software, your licence just stops working, and you don’t retain anything. If your company needs software for one-time use, off-the-shelf software may come in handy. But if your company is planning to use the software continuously, it’s smarter to invest in custom software.
Reason #10 Streamlined business processes.
Custom software accumulates all the business data at one location. So this makes it easier for the employees to get access to the most updated data even if they access it from different locations. What is more, custom software can optimise business processes rather than replacing them, thus saving time and money for your business.