Custom Software vs. Off-the-Shelf Software


By David Adress
President, Bitochon Technologies

Choosing between off-the-shelf and custom software can be a difficult task for a business. If you are concerned solely about the cost you will incur, then there is no question that off-the-shelf software is the right choice for you. Custom software development takes time and therefore costs more. However, it is suggested that you don’t decide based on price alone. Hence, it is a better idea to go over the benefits of both before making a final decision. To make things easier for you, here is a comparison of off-the-shelf and custom software:

Flexibility

When it comes to flexibility, there is no doubt that custom software will suit your needs better. After all, the software is designed keeping in mind the needs of your business. Therefore, you are more likely to find it suited to the work process. On the other hand, you will have to change the way you work to make use of packaged software.

Purpose

Here again, getting custom software is the better option. You discuss your needs with your developer before they get to work on the software. Hence, they keep what you told them in mind while planning and designing the software. Conversely, you have to browse through a number of options before you can find packaged software that can fulfill your needs.

Features

This is a key area where again custom software trumps packaged software. The fact of the matter is that the features included in custom software are done keeping in mind your needs and requirements. In fact, you also have the option to get any features of a custom software that will make using it easier. As far as off-the-shelf software go, you get features you might never need. Moreover, you might even have to pay for these extra features.

Support

You paid the developer to create the software for you so you can expect them to provide round the clock support. This ensures that your employees are able to learn how to use the software and also any glitches and issues can be dealt with properly. On the flip side, you might not get any support at all when using packaged software, though this is more the exception than the rule. Also, if the software isn’t user-friendly, your staff would have a hard time getting familiar with it without extensive training.

Users

Last, but not the least, there is usually no limit on the number of users when you are using custom software. A restriction is generally used only to ensure the software runs properly and doesn’t malfunction as a result of too many users logging on at once. Even then, you can ask the developer to make it compatible with a greater number of users. When using packaged software, you have to pay licensing fees if you want to increase the number of users beyond the prescribed limit.

As you can see, custom software development is a far better option than using off-the-shelf software. The initial cost might be higher but think of it as an investment and it will pay off handsomely in the long run.