Custom Software V/s Off-the-Shelf Software – A Debatable Choice


June 27, 2018


September 14th, 2023

As enterprise software solutions increasingly continue to be a part and parcel of businesses, the one haunting question that continues to linger on is whether to go in for customized software or an off-the-shelf one. With several multifaceted parameters like performance, budget, requirements, geographical spread, usability, security affecting the decision, the take on which one to choose is a highly significant step for augmented business profitability and growth. Off-the-shelf software is a ready-to-use product whereas custom software solutions are developed based on user requirements.

Though there is a vast difference between these two strategies of software solutions, it is equally difficult for enterprises to choose which one would fit their bill, at best. Both have their own set of positives and negatives which need to be studied, analyzed and evaluated in-depth, prior to taking any decision. For e.g., a comparison between custom ERP solution and off-the-shelf ERP solution is here to stay.  Of course, there are certain guidelines that can surely help make the right choice, only after enterprises portray a comprehensive picture of all their business requirements along with the total cost associated with each of the entities

A tailormade software is specially developed fit for the organization, exactly the way they operate business whereas an off-the-shelf one is readily obtainable and not tailored. Custom software development offers a lucrative and personalized client experience whereas the readymade solution sticks to what it offers as a package. The customized software adapts itself to your business needs, however, off-the-shelf solutions make you adapt to their business flow.

There are certain key pointers that enterprises should investigate prior to even starting to choose between custom software vs off the shelf, be it build or buy:

  • Thorough understanding of business requirements
  • The total cost of ownership as per all entities involved
  • A detailed assessment of software vendors
  • Security and infrastructure requirements
  • Geographical spread and layout

Custom Software vs Off the Shelf – Key Assessment Questions

Whenever there is such an important debatable decision, the best way out to answer certain vital questions that are vital to the decision-making and decide which one to choose from off the shelf vs custom software. Here it is no different. Here are some of the significant questions that once analyzed, answered and finalized, will offer you a clear picture in terms of deciding whether to go in for bespoke software of readymade one:

  • To What Extent Tailor Fitting Is Required In The Solution?

If the extent of customization needed in any solution is high, it is advisable to go in for the tailor-made software solution. Off-the-shelf software and its modular components may offer functionalities that may not be needed and may also unnecessarily disturb the normal functioning of the system. Instead, customization will smoothly take care of fitting in requirements with the best possible software solution.

  • Which Of The Two Offers Implementation With Ease?

With developers skilled in programming techniques at their best and technology becoming increasingly developer-friendly, designing and building customized software solutions has become easier and more manageable. It isn’t as easy as it seems since while doing so, there would be many hurdles on the way that need to be attended to, for seamless implementation of the project.

Readymade solutions need not go through this entire process since they already have everything done, based on experiences faced earlier. But custom software solutions now are developed with the latest engagement models and project execution models, easing out the rollout of the solution, with the least issues. And so, shouldn’t be an issue at all.

  • What Is Your Scheduled Budget For An Enterprise Software Solution?

Prior to choosing which type of solution to go in for, it is very important enterprises calculate their proposed budget, its bifurcation into various elements and how they want to utilize it to its finest. An off-the-shelf software will surely be moderately priced since it is already developed whereas the tailor-made one will incur expenses right from start. But will the readymade one deliver what is wanted by the client in terms of functionalities, performance, and security?

There are many unseen costs that may get missed while you get a readymade solution and those expenses may crop up later. While tailoring your solution, you have time and awareness of the costs involved and hence there are fewer risk factors of expenditures cropping up any time.

  • How Frequently Does The Solution Need To Get Upgraded?

Readymade solutions do offer regular updates that may prove to be reasonable and regular but there could be times when updates are not offered. Such times could lead you to irregular and negative business impact. Owing to customization there are opportunities of regular up-gradation / modification of software since you yourself own the software and is easily manageable by the expert resources.

  • Is There The Higher Level Of Seamless Third-Party Integration Needed?

In this era of multiple systems working together, it is imperative to have a seamless integration of the software solution with other external systems working in parallel. In the case of readymade solutions, it becomes a challenging task to interact with other external systems. For customized solutions, it can be worked out while designing the solution itself and hence turns out to be a simple task.

  • What Is The Business Size Of The Organization?

Depending on the size of the organization – be it small, medium, large, start-up etc., the type of software solution can be chosen. In case of a low budget or low resource setup, going in for an off-the-shelf software would be ideal, only if there are no chances of expansion. But if there is a future possibility of growth or expansion, it is better to take up customized software. Fitting requirements into the solution exactly as per needs can easily be done with customization.

  • Would You Like To Have A Competitive Benefit Over Your Peers?

If you are developing software just for your requirements, it surely will reflect all your processes and workflows exactly as wanted. This offers you a competitive edge over the others. It is beneficial to align your software with your processes and get the best of business results rather than the other way around.

Certain enterprises do go in for off-the-shelf software to save on the cost factor but as compared to custom software solutions, encounter a lot of risks, uncertainty, and non-alignment of business goals with software functionalities. Custom software development is a perfect fit for your requirements. Even a hybrid approach could be the answer in which standardized solutions would be merged seamlessly with tailor-made apps, in such a way that they get the best of both worlds, but this is too good a picture and may not be as easy as it looks, in the real day world.

As a leading Custom Software Development Company in India, our skilled software resources have been implementing consistent and sustained custom software solutions with a multilayered range of services, in vivid technologies that can give your organization the best of business efficiency and effectiveness. Our Custom Software Services have been successfully implemented across a wide range of enterprise clientele, all around the globe.

We, as IT partners of our clients, recommend an extremely competent, prepared & proficient resource pool, qualified by technology experts’ viz. Microsoft, Oracle, Pentaho, PMI. Our contemporary project management procedures, supple engagement models, infrastructure setup, well-defined security policies, and knowledge management methods provide us an edge above the others. Supplementing resources with slightest lead time is our strength, with India being a hub for IT technical resource competency.

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SPEC INDIA, as your single stop IT partner has been successfully implementing a bouquet of diverse solutions and services all over the globe, proving its mettle as an ISO 9001:2015 certified IT solutions organization. With efficient project management practices, international standards to comply, flexible engagement models and superior infrastructure, SPEC INDIA is a customer’s delight. Our skilled technical resources are apt at putting thoughts in a perspective by offering value-added reads for all.

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