Off-the-Shelf Software vs Custom Software – Which to Choose?

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Build or buy software? Many business owners wrestle with this question while addressing their software needs. They struggle to decide whether to opt for ready-made or custom software, as both the options have their pros and cons. Off-the-shelf software vs custom software is a decision that depends on various factors, including your business needs, the cost, and the benefits and risks associated with tailor-made and ready-made software.

Here are some pros and cons to consider when weighing whether to opt for custom software or order ready-made.


Pros of Off-the-Shelf Software

  1. The ready-made software is a commercial product that is available for everyone, and because of that, you can buy it at a lower initial cost.
  2. Buying of the software allows fast implementation, and its proper documentation, including user manuals, makes it easy to adopt.
  3. Moreover, it has already been tested and proven to be useful for your business needs. Importantly, experts have designed its functionalities after determining the industry’s needs. If you have a small budget, it makes sense to invest in ready-made software.

Cons of Off-the-Shelf Software

  1. However, as off-the-shelf software addresses common business needs, it may not resolve your specific requirements.
  2. You also cannot add new features, remove unnecessary features, or modify its inbuilt functionalities; therefore, you cannot scale it to meet expanding needs and larger demands of your business.
  3. You also fail to get an edge over your competitors, as they may be using the same software.
  4. With ready-made software, there are also integration challenges. It may not be compatible with your diverse set of systems, which will affect your business performance.
  5. And, you may have bought custom software at a low price, but its cost will gradually increase because of updates, maintenance, and compatibility issues.


Pros of Custom Software

  1. Custom software can be a perfect fit for your business, as you get it with the aim to resolve specific requirements. It is unique, highly compatible with other systems and applications, and provides you with flexibility.
  2. With custom software, you also stay ahead of the technology curve, which gives you an edge over your competitors.
  3. Moreover, you get the freedom to add new features, make changes, and set a time for further updates.
  4. You can also scale it up to meet the expanding and evolving needs of your business.

Cons of Custom Software

  1. However, unlike ready-made software, the custom software takes time to build, as developing something from scratch is a lengthy process.
  2. It demands a higher investment – both money and time.
  3. You will usually have to spend considerable time testing it and ensuring that it is bug-free. To make this part easier for our clients, our QA team devotes considerable time and effort to make sure that every released version works free of errors.
  4. It may also take time to implement custom software if there is no proper user documentation. This is why we think that writing clear and detailed documentation has to be closely integrated into the development process itself.
  5. Anything that comes with the custom tag costs more than solutions developed for mass market. The cost is likely to rise further if your development team does not have the skills necessary to build custom software. You must have a strong, capable team if you want to make it well worth your investment.


Questions to Ask Before Making a Definite Decision

Now that you know the pros and cons, here are some simple questions that you need to ask yourself to determine whether to choose off-the-shelf software vs custom software for your business.

  • Can my business benefit from new cutting-edge technologies?
  • Is there going to be a change in my business structure?
  • Do I plan to scale my business in the future?
  • Will I introduce new services or products in the future?
  • Is there a solution available in the market that fully resolves my pain points?
  • Whether I can afford custom software?


Final Thoughts

You can opt for custom software if you have the budget, a great deal of time, and expanding business needs. The ready-made software, on the other hand, is an ideal solution for you if your budget is limited, and you cannot afford to expend time and resources.

If after reading this article and answering these questions, you think custom software is the way to go for your business, let’s talk about your solution during a free consultation. This way you can get all the necessary information to get started, without any long-term commitment.

If you would like to learn more about working together with a software development team, follow our social media pages.

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