Custom software development is the designing and maintaining of software for a specific user, set of users, or organization. Let us say, for instance, that you run an e-commerce brand and need a platform to serve as an online retail market for your customers.
In this case, custom software and mobile app development is what you would need to give you an edge over your competitors.
Unlike off-the-shelf software—which is typically a packaged software designed for a large audience with different yet similar needs—custom software is tailored to your business’s needs and requirements.
Although this is not to say that one type of software is better than the other. Usually, the right software for your business will largely depend on its goals.
The rest of this article is a short comparison between custom software and off-the-shelf software, based on the following factors:
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Custom software is designed to efficiently address its users’ specific needs, which is why it is much preferred to off-the-shelf software.
Since off-the-shelf software is designed for a wide range of users, it is often not well-adapted to each user’s needs, or compatible with other applications each user works with. And this can greatly hinder your workflow and productivity.
The biggest advantage of custom software is that it is scalable. It’s fairly common for a company’s needs and goals to evolve, and for its software to suddenly become inefficient. However, developing custom software applications for your business can help you curb this problem.
Developers who build custom software usually assess the users’ needs and incorporate them into the software, while making room to accommodate later updates. Unfortunately, off-the-shelf software is hardly ever scalable.
Off-the-shelf software solutions are usually cheaper than custom software since their implementation costs are shared among many users—unlike custom software whose implementation costs are solely your responsibility.
While off-the-shelf applications are generally cheaper to integrate, this must be balanced against the fact that they can be more expensive if you have to buy several off-the-shelf applications to achieve something one custom application will easily do.
4. Implementation time
Depending on the complexity of your business’s needs, the implementation time for developing custom software can range from one month to a little over a year. This may be not feasible in situations when you have a strict timeline.
If you are looking for a fast and simple solution to your software problem, it might be better to invest in off-the-shelf software. Granted, it may not always be faster, as implementing software that doesn’t address your specific needs can often be time-consuming. But it will usually suffice.
5. Competitive advantage
By integrating off-the-shelf software into your business, you are opting for a service that is available to your competitors. As a result, standing out in your niche can be difficult to achieve.
Conversely, getting a custom solution will enable you to create new opportunities, offer unique solutions, and gain an edge over your competitors since they don’t have YOUR custom software.
Both types of software are useful for solving different kinds of problems; although custom software would be a better choice if you are looking for software that will swiftly address your business’s specific needs.
If, however, your business addresses common issues, it may be better to install an off-the-shelf application instead.