Custom vs. Off The Shelf Software

4 years ago | by Chris O'Brien

The old buy vs. build debate is one that most businesses find themselves in when they’re in an area of growth or planning for their business’s future.

After all, most off the shelf solutions that assist in the fundamentals of what businesses need, are more often than not at fault of also holding them back from truly efficient and effective operations.

Software is critical to everyone’s day to day activities. When assessing your business needs, it’s important to consider your current struggles, room for opportunities, and seek staff feedback to decide whether a custom approach to software would benefit how you operate, and ultimately have a positive impact on your company’s productivity, procedures and bottom line.

What is custom business software?

As its name suggests, custom business software is built based on specific business goals, overcoming current challenges, user groups, the list goes on. Think about a solution that could literally meet every requirement you had. This kind of software goes well beyond off the shelf products products that ‘mostly fit’ in with your procedures, but still have those hair pulling moments, leaving you questioning why it can’t just do X, or how come it doesn’t integrate seamlessly Y, or damn it would be good if it just did Z.

Why do companies opt for custom business software?

Here are 6 key reasons companies decide to go with the customised approach:

  1. Built for purpose. This is arguably the number one reason why companies tend to go down the road of custom software. Although you can purchase off the shelf products that ‘do the job’, customised software is far different. It takes everything into consideration, from what you’re currently using, to where your business wants to be in the future. Using custom software takes your business software approach from ‘it does the job’, to ‘it ticks every box!’ What’s more is you’ll never be stuck paying for features you won’t use, because your software will be built for everything you actually need.
  2. Easily scalable & extremely flexible. Software developers generally run on a contractual basis, meaning they can support and expand on your custom software, no matter what your business runs into, whether that’s expanding or sizing down / changing offerings etc. With off the shelf software, businesses typically find that the software works okay, but doesn’t support the type of scale it needs to – or maybe the software does support the scale they need, but licensing is very expensive. Custom software is built to your scope (including growth), and easily adjusted if required.
  3. Strengthening cyber security protection. Some of the most hard hitting, devastating cyber attacks have been the result of an exploit being uncovered in an off the shelf software solution. By having custom built software, not only are you benefiting from purpose built, perfectly integratable products, you’re also on the safer side of users, as cyber criminals would have to go to far more trouble to learn and exploit your systems, then to get on the bandwagon of exploiting known vulnerabilities in pre-existing solutions.
  4. Enhanced software reliability. Unlike off the shelf software where companies who developed it can choose to end their support, or unforeseen situations happen, like bankruptcy, which again leaves you without support; custom software is always maintained and supported for as long as you need it to be – even if the original company is no more – new developers can easily pick up where they left off.
  5. Lower costs over time. While off the shelf software tends to seem cheaper up front, the capabilities and long-term benefits of custom software more often than not works out cheaper. For example, the fact that custom software is built to account for anything you need is likely to save you having to buy multiple off the shelf solutions just to get an outcome that does the job (often meaning you’re paying for loads of features you and your staff are unlikely to use). Built for purpose solutions are also sure to increase your efficiency and staff productivity – both of which save you time and money.
  6. Opportunity for profit! If you’re needing custom software within your industry, it’s likely that other businesses would also benefit from the tools you’re building. After your software has been created, you have the opportunity to enter the software market and resell it as your own to others in your industry! Not only does the give you an even greater competitive edge, it allows you to recoup your initial investment amount, and pursue an additional stream of income.

While some companies might find that off the shelf products do the necessities of what their business needs, it’s often the case that room for improvement and areas for growth are always only a build away. For cost savings, increased efficiencies and greater competitiveness, it’s worth floating your idea in a consultation to see what’s possible for your company.

Our development team are always keen to get stuck into new projects and drive business progression. Fill out the form below so they can get in touch with you and start the ball rolling with your next business software strategy.

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