Off-The-Shelf/Packaged Software Vs. Custom Software: Which Is Best for Your Business?

Off-The-Shelf/Packaged Software Vs. Custom Software: Which Is Best for Your Business?

A majority of organizations have gone digital, which is an excellent move. Going digital not only increases operational efficiency but is also critical to reaching new markets and thus, boosting your revenue and profitability.

As a digital business, however, one of your most significant responsibilities is finding the right software for your company which means you’ll be choosing between off-the-shelf and custom software. Below, we compare the two options based on some key considerations to help you determine the best fit for your business.

The Question of Cost, Custom Software Vs. Off The Shelf

Let’s begin with a common concern among buyers: which option is more cost-effective – off-the-shelf or custom software? There are two primary considerations to keep in mind here; the cost of acquisition and cost of maintenance.

With regards to the cost of acquisition, off-the-shelf software solutions win. The reason is simple; since off-the-shelf solutions are meant to be sold to multiple users (sometimes in their thousands), the development costs can be spread among many users. The result is lower prices. This is different from custom software solutions that are designed for a single user. Since the individual user has to shoulder all development costs, prices tend to be higher.

Off-the-shelf software solutions are also cheaper to maintain for the same reasons. The maintenance costs can be spread across multiple users. If you choose custom software, however, you must be ready to shoulder all maintenance costs.

So, here, off-the-shelf software solutions win.

Custom Application Development Offers Ease of Implementation

After considering the cost, you then need to find the ease of implementation. How much effort is required to implement the solution successfully?

Here again, off-the-shelf solutions have the edge. There are a couple of reasons why starting with the kind of work required of the organization during custom software development. Although you won’t be the one developing the software, you need to provide the developers with all the information required to create a system that adequately addresses your needs. You may also have to help with testing and UX. These are things off-the-shelf buyers don’t have to contend with.

The other reason is learning and understanding the software. Custom software solutions are unique creations. They are unlike anything you’ve seen out there. It means that you can’t learn off other people because those people don’t have a similar software solution. Often, this results in a more extended implementation phase that could negatively impact your business. Off-the-shelf software, meanwhile, is used by many other people out there. You can efficiently study the software by observing others and better prepare for implementation by learning off other’s mistakes.

The Need for Deep Customization and Scalability

Another common consideration for businesses is customization. And this is where custom solutions win big.

Again, there are two reasons why. First, businesses are typically looking for solutions to specific problems. Whether it’s an accounting issue or security hitch, you’ll want a solution that is created to accurately and adequately address the issue, not just scratch the surface. Custom solutions allow you to find one-time solutions to your problems. Different from off-the-shelf solutions that are designed to address generic and routing functionalities, custom solutions are created to address exactly what your business lacks. In other words, you have a higher chance of fixing your problems with custom software solutions.

The other reason is what’s in the package. Off-the-shelf solutions typically come with unnecessary features that clog the package; features you’ll probably never need. These “spam” features expose your system to unnecessary security threats as well as create an avoidable maintenance headache. Custom solutions don’t come with any unnecessary features. You only get what you ordered.

Ease of Integration with Custom Solution

Another area where custom software solutions win big is integration. Simply put, integration refers to the ability of the new solution to fit into the rest of the system seamlessly. How quickly can your solution fit into the existing system?

Off-the-shelf solutions are not easy to integrate into the rest of the system because they are never designed with the system in mind. The developers aren’t aware of the type of software their potential customers are currently using. All they care about is creating a software solution to help as many people as possible address a problem. It might, therefore, require a significant amount of effort to fit the new solution into the existing system. In fact, sometimes the new system may not fit at all, forcing you to acquire a different solution.

Custom software solutions solve this issue by ensuring that the solution you get is ready to go into the existing system. That’s because before creating the software, developers first evaluate the current system. With that done, they can create a solution that takes minimal effort to integrate into the existing IT environment.

Update Frequency and Security

The good news here is that both off-the-shelf and custom solutions are mostly regularly updated. Nevertheless, there are a few differences in the reliability of these updates.

If you choose to buy your software off-the-shelf, the provider will promise to provide regular updates. It gets better, to update off-the-shelf software, all you need to do is click a few buttons. You don’t have to call an expert to help with the process. Also, you’re likely to receive a notification whenever updates become available. This can help ensure that you don’t miss any new updates.

The problem, however, is when updates aren’t released for an extended period or if some aspects of the solution aren’t updated for an extended period. Remember that new threats come to the scene every single day as hackers become more sophisticated and viruses evolve. Whenever updates are delayed, your business is exposed to endless security risks.

That’s where custom software solutions prove their worth. With custom software, you can add whatever updates you want, whenever you want. You don’t have to wait for new releases to add features to your software. Whenever you feel that the existing solution isn’t serving you well, you call your software development partner to update the solution.

Flexibility and Scalability

Finally, no matter what size your business is, you need to keep scalability in mind whenever they purchase the software. You want to buy a solution that allows you to expand your operations without limitations.

Off-the-shelf solutions might promise this, but they rarely deliver. Typically, you’ll find different pricing plans that offer greater resources as you move upwards. However, ask yourself what happens after you exhaust the resources provided in the highest priced plan. Alternatively, even before we get there, ask yourself about the challenges of moving from one pricing plan to the next plan. In some cases, making this transition may not be as smooth as you’d like. Many business owners have experienced situations where upgrading to the next plan was made impossible by “technical” difficulties, in some cases forcing the company to change providers.

The only permanent solution to this problem is custom software development. With custom development, you can scale at your own pace, as and when you need to.

Making a Decision, Ready to get started?

As you can see, both options have their strengths and drawbacks. But, custom software development comes out on top. You can customize the software to address your specific needs and scale at your own pace. Also, you get to enjoy easier integration and reliable product updates. Don’t hesitate. Or procrastinate. Our custom software solution service is the missing link to streamline your operational excellence. Our application development and mobile app development services have been crafted for the benefit of business like yours. Don’t miss out on the opportunity. Get started by scheduling a free consultation today.

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