Custom Software Vs. Off-the-Shelf – Which is Right For You?
When it comes to your business, you obviously want the best. However, how do you decide which software solution is the right option – A custom software program or an off-the-shelf software product? There are several reasons to use both off-the-shelf software and custom software programs. Here are some of them to help you decide which one is right for you.
Why Choose Off-the-Shelf Software?
- Lower Cost
Off-the-shelf products can be cheaper than custom software as the cost of development is divided among the end users instead of a single client.
- Quicker Implementation Time
Off-the-shelf programs can be implemented very quickly as all you need to do is buy and install.
- Company Needs
Not all companies have the need for a custom software solution, so if you don’t have highly specialised requirements, you would find it more efficient to buy a generic off-the-shelf product.
- Unsure of Requirements
If your company is brand-new you may still be ‘getting a feel’ of your requirements. In which case an off-the-shelf program will allow you to explore your requirements before you commit to a bespoke software build later down the line.
- Community Help
Since an off-the-shelf product is being used by millions of other people, you will usually find an active community helping and supporting each other. You can get instant support or help from community member if you use an off-the-shelf software product.
Why Choose Custom Software?
- Easier Integration
In today’s age of specialisation and big data, a bespoke software product might be better positioned to integrate with the other digital tools you may be using. If you have a pre-existing IT ecosystem, investing in a custom software program could make integration easier.
- Upgrades on Demand
Any company that develops and sells an off-the-shelf software solution will constantly upgrade it. However, they may not necessarily update the program very frequently. If you want quicker updates, you will find most bespoke software development companies will be happy to add any features you want, when you want them.
- Scalability Requirements
Scalability is a particularly important metric for growing businesses, whether already quite big or just starting up. Whilst your needs may be limited right now, you will need to consider requirements for when your business does start growing. If scalability is a requirement for your software development needs, it may be more efficient for you to invest in a custom software product.
- Unique Services
In order to stand apart from your competitors, you need unique services or functionality that they can’t, or don’t, offer. If this exclusivity is important to you, then you may not be satisfied with the generic solutions offered by some off-the-shelf products. In such a case, you should invest in custom software solutions.
- On-going Maintenance
Off-the-shelf software products don’t come with the option of on-going maintenance. If you have a system bug, you may need to report it and wait for the fix in their next upgrade. If you have a bespoke software product developed, your software development company will give you quicker bug fixes and on-going maintenance.
With custom software, you might need to pay the software development company to train your staff. However, the training can be focused on the features each team member would be using.
Also, since your employees aren’t expected to learn how to use the product or its features themselves, the training is quicker and their questions are answered immediately.
- Efficient Size
An off-the-shelf product is designed for a mass market. This is why it could have features and functions that you might not need, but will have to pay for and install. A custom software program, on the other hand, is less bloated and will only have the features that you specifically want. In fact, at One Beyond, we work with the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) so you get an efficient product that gives you the functionality you need without any extraneous bytes clogging up your IT system.
- Features Flexibility
With an off-the-shelf product, you have no choice but to accept the features offered, even if they aren’t absolutely ideal for your needs. If you want a different set of features, you will need to look around for another program that offers them. Custom software development, especially when using the Agile software development methodologies, allows you much more flexibility. You can choose the specifications you want, or change and edit the features you require (to some extent) during the build.
- Number of Users
Most commercial off-the-shelf products charge you a fee for the number of employees using the program. If your company grows, you will have to pay more to accommodate the increase in the staff. A custom software program, on the other hand, belongs to you. You can have as many users as you want, without having to pay a user fee for them.
- Product Quality
As mentioned earlier, off-the-shelf software programs can be bloated with unnecessary features that you don’t need. Additionally, these products may not offer the level of quality you desire.
If you want a high-quality program that has been through intensive software quality testing to give you optimal performance, custom software development will give you the results you need.
At One Beyond, we provide businesses of all sizes quality software solutions that are tested for functionality and performance. We also work with start-ups who have a limited development budget.