What is the Difference Between Custom Software and Off-the-Shelf Software?


When introducing the digital product, sooner or later, you’ll have to face the dilemma – off-the-shelf or custom software? To make the right choice, it’s worth getting familiar with the pros and cons of both solutions and thoroughly analyzing your goals. Below you’ll find a handful of tips that will help you with selecting an optimal solution.

Due to the popularity of the solutions in the SaaS model, the companies often don’t even consider developing the custom one. Some are not even conscious that such an option exists. The advocates of the cloud-based off-the-shelf software underline its practicality. It’s worth remembering, however, that the custom solutions may also guarantee maximum comfort to the users, and they have many other advantages aside from it.

Which variant to choose? There is no universal formula. Choosing a solution for yourself, you should take into account such factors as the company’s budget, its business goals, priorities, and the most nagging problems to solve. Before we come up with a comparison of both options, let’s explain how they work in a nutshell.

What is off-the-shelf software?

When speaking about off-the-shelf software, we mean ready-made solutions with a low level of flexibility. Even though the name may indicate the physical media, it’s usually an online cloud-based software offered in a SaaS model. 

What is custom software?

Custom software is a tailor-made solution developed on demand. Even though it can rely on existing components the software house has at its disposal, its construction always corresponds to the individual needs. It’s the client who has a final word when it comes to the interface, spectrum of functionalities, the storage of data, and other essential aspects.

Off the shelf software – pros and cons

When choosing a solution of this kind, you can expect fast implementation. The SaaS products are ready to use right away – you just need to start an account and pay your subscription fee. Most providers offer a free trial period after which you can decide whether the software meets your needs.

However, such an option is far from being perfect. Its main disadvantage is low flexibility. By choosing it, you’re limited to the functionalities implemented by the provider. In most cases, you cannot personalize it or introduce your own extensions.

In addition, cloud-based ready-made solutions don’t guarantee the independence of data. That makes them more vulnerable to cyber-attacks and data leaks.

Off-the-shelf software – when to choose it?

We recommend choosing such a solution if you are on a budget. When developing custom software, affordability shouldn’t be the first criterion. Putting it first, you may end up with a budget, tailor-made product that isn’t that different from the SaaS apps available on the market.

Off-the-shelf software is a good choice if you want to save time, too. Such a product is ready to implement right away, contrary to the custom software.

Off-the-shelf software

Custom software – pros and cons

If you have a specified vision of your software, limiting yourself to off-the-shelf will only cause frustration. Custom software may be more costly and time-consuming to implement, but it’s an investment that pays itself. With it, you have much more chance to increase the overall effectiveness of the collaborative work and solve the existing issues such as, for instance, low workflow efficiency.

Custom software – when to choose it?

A custom solution will be a perfect choice for companies functioning within the sectors that generate demand for particular functionalities. SaaS products are made to meet everyone’s needs – thus, they won’t find applications in niche industries.

When the implementation of the software – for instance, a content management system or customer relationship management system – is aimed at solving a particular problem, custom will be a much better option. The unnecessary functionalities may distract the user and make the interface more complicated, affecting efficiency. 

If your company deals with confidential data on a daily basis, bespoke software (preferably on-premise) is the safest choice. With it, you can choose the way to manage your data – for example, by choosing a private Blockchain network instead of a traditional database.

Summing up, both solutions have their bright and dark sides. It’s essential to ask yourself what issues should the product solve and how much you can pay for it. Our tips may be helpful with making the final decision. If you’re looking for more information on the differences between bespoke and off the shelf solutions, we recommend this article: https://inwedo.com/custom-made-or-off-the-shelf-solution-fashion-dilemma-in-the-world-of-business/



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