Scott Howard Consulting is now Moss Rock Solutions! Click here to learn more!

Custom Vs Off The Shelf Software: Benefits and Drawbacks

Running a business is not easy. There are numerous decisions to make every day. You always try to do what’s best for your company. However, sometimes, it’s challenging to know what’s best.

This is true of the type of software you use for your company. The right software can launch your business to the next level. Should you use off the shelf software, or is it worth investing in custom software?

The answer to this question lies in your unique company. There are benefits and drawbacks to both kinds of software. 

Take the time to think about the needs of your specific business. There are many benefits of custom software development. However, the time and money involved in creating it may not be for everyone. 

 

Benefits of Developing Custom Software

Custom software is designed for your needs. You can brainstorm, dream, and develop solutions that your current software isn’t giving you. It can provide answers to your problems and allow your team to work more efficiently.

Custom Software Can Meet Every Requirement

Instead of saying, “I wish my software could do this,” you can make it happen. A developer will ask questions and learn about your company to create your desired software.

Custom Software Can Easily be Modified and Expanded

Just as technology constantly evolves, so does your business. Times are going to change, and companies need software that can grow. When you own the software, you can change it as required.

Seamless Integration is Possible

Can your back office and finance systems talk to one another? If not, you are likely facing frustrations. When designing custom software, you can allow for integration across departments.

Gain a Competitive Edge 

If you utilize custom software and none of your competitors are, this can give you an edge. If your departments can integrate, you can seamlessly track inventory, make shipments, and provide an excellent user experience. Your business will rock it. 

 

Drawbacks of Custom Software Development

The points mentioned above may have you excited and ready to sign on the dotted line. However, there are still some drawbacks to keep in mind.

High Up Front Cost

Since custom software is built from scratch, it obviously comes with a higher price tag. However, if this investment allows your company to grow, attract more customers, and function more efficiently, it’s likely to pay for itself over time. Also, note that many off the shelf products have a monthly subscription structure. This can lead to a higher cost.

Developing Custom Software Takes Time

If you need a quick solution for your business, you won’t get it with custom software. The development process can take months. On the other hand, even though packaged software will work right out of the box, you may take more time trying to customize it to work for your specific situation.

You Become Dependent on the Custom Developer

Take your time when choosing a custom developer to work with. If the developer goes out of business or becomes unavailable, you could be inconvenienced. Conversely, it can be beneficial to have a close relationship with a developer that understands your business. Choose your partner wisely.

 

Benefits of Off the Shelf Software

There are numerous choices when it comes to off the shelf software. It obviously works for many businesses.

A Fast Software Solution

You don’t have to wait long for packaged software. You can install it and be ready to go. Although, it is easy to run into problems. For instance, the new software might not be compatible with your other systems and need customization.

Low Upfront Cost

Since packaged software is mass-produced, the cost is spread among many people. Remember, though, that great deals aren’t always what’s best. Inefficiencies, subscription costs, and maintenance could end up costing you more.

You Get a Community

When researching packaged software, you can read reviews online. Often, you can also try out the software before purchasing. In addition, you can check forums for feedback and find answers to questions.

 

Drawbacks of Off the Shelf Software

 A one-size-fits-all approach has drawbacks. Off the shelf software is not the best fit for everyone.

You Have to Fit Your Business to the Software

An off the shelf solution is unlikely to meet all your business requirements. True, it will likely cost less money, but if it’s inefficient and unable to do what you need, you’ll lose any money you saved in the beginning. Developing software to fit your business makes more sense.

Packaged Software is Rigid

It’s challenging to modify off the shelf software. Your business is bound to grow and change, and you can’t control the upgrades that roll out with your packaged software. This can leave you stuck.

You are Likely to Face Compatibility Problems

Your operating system, devices, or other business software will likely clash with packaged software. This could cause your whole system to become unstable. At the very least, it will cause frustration and inefficiencies. 

You Have No Competitive Edge

If you can purchase packaged software, so can all your competitors. You have nothing that can set you apart from your competitors. This stifles innovation and gives you no advantage.

 

The Custom Vs. Off the Shelf Software Dilemma

In the end, only you can decide what’s right for your business. Take the time to think and evaluate:

  • Do you need a solution right now, or can you wait a few months?
  • Are there things your current software can’t do that you wish it could?
  •  Is there a packaged software out there that genuinely meets your needs?
  • How will your business grow and change in the coming years, and how will that affect your software?
  • Will custom software give you an edge over your competitors?

Making the wrong decision can be costly and send your company backward. Take the time to do your research and make the best decision for your circumstances. Your main concern should be efficiency, which benefits your customers and team members.

The right software will allow for integration, innovation, and efficiency. Your team members will feel less stress and be more productive. In this environment, your business can grow and flourish.