Custom or Off-the-Shelf Software: Making the Right Choice

Also known as bespoke software, custom software is a system designed and developed to meet the specific needs of a customer. This is usually done by experts like Ronas IT, that carry out digital product development to meet your company’s needs.

All items in the system, including the source code, become the property of the company, which can use a team of in-house or outsourced developers to improve the technology over time. This type of solution is ideal for businesses that need scalability and functionality not found in off-the-shelf software.

Main advantages of custom software

Having software created to meet all the particularities of the business makes the difference in achieving success. Contrary to what happens when hiring ready-made software, a customized system is unique and can be used as a competitive advantage over competitors.

Another benefit is related to usability. As the software will be created from scratch, it is the technology that will adapt to the rules of the business. It is even possible to think of an interface that makes employees and customers more comfortable. Learn about other benefits of custom software:

  • long-term savings;
  • customized storage strategies;
  • more data privacy;
  • simplified upgrade;
  • more flexible customizations.

Main challenges

While it’s cost-effective in the long run, building a custom solution requires an upfront investment that can be challenging for companies on tight budgets.

Another point that deserves attention is the need for deep knowledge about the objectives and needs of the business for the correct development of the system.

What is off-the-shelf software?

It is produced generically and on a large scale. Its purpose is not to meet the particularities of a business but to have common functions that potentially satisfy any customer interested in buying it.

This type of software comes ready-made, just like the products on the supermarket shelf. Generally speaking, just download, configure and start using.

Main advantages

Compared to custom solutions, off-the-shelf systems are faster to implement.

Another advantage is that many of them can be customized. That is, it is possible to hire a specialized company to add modules and make other types of customizations. Check out more benefits:

  • low initial investment;
  • agile deployment;
  • a solution to the most common problems.

Main challenges

It is likely that ready-made software will come with features that the company does not need, especially if we are talking about a small or medium business. On the other hand, there is also the possibility of missing essential resources.

Whatever the case, it will be necessary to hire a company to carry out adaptations, and this weighs on the final cost of the system. Another challenge is the limitation of customization. Ready-made software can be adaptable, but major changes will not be feasible.

Which of the options is the best?

You need to carefully assess the needs of your business to recognize which is the best option. Here are some questions that will help you think about the best type:

  • Is my market of activity stable, or does it undergo many changes?
  • What are the short, medium, and long-term business goals?
  • Does the company have specific routines and needs?
  • What technologies are used today, and what aspects need to be improved?
  • What is the opinion of the company’s IT employees?
  • What is the business experience with the use of technology?

Custom software is suitable for companies with specific processes and need features not found in off-the-shelf systems. It is also a good option for companies that operate in very dynamic markets and need technology to adapt to changes and keep growing.

On the other hand, off-the-shelf software can be a good alternative for companies that need more common features and are willing to make some adaptations to use the system.

In addition to carefully analyzing the topics we mentioned, it is essential to do market research and listen to the opinions of software experts to choose the type of system that makes the most sense for your company today.