Off-the-shelf software is generally geared to the mass market. While it’s true that some niche software is off-the-shelf it can be very expensive. The software used by film studios or top billed music artists sometimes falls into this category. Almost everything else is designed with “the usual” use cases and for the most part it is not customizable. This is true for both software run within your own environment on physical or virtual servers and software offered “as-a-service" (SaaS). Off-the-shelf solutions are usually less expensive than custom software because they can be bought in bulk by many customers and are sold as a fully developed product spreading out the cost of development across a wide customer base. Off-the-shelf solutions often come with pre-defined features, workflows, and other limitations – meaning you can’t always fully customize it to your specific needs. Again, depending on the solution, customization may or may not be possible at all.
Off-the-shelf software can be an excellent solution for many businesses particularly those who follow a standard industry model. However, it’s important to keep in mind that you’ll generally have fewer customization and scalability options with this type of software. You may also be limited by the specific functionality provided by the software. For example, if you select a payroll solution that isn’t fully integrated with your other business software, you may have to manually enter data into two separate systems. That can make your life more difficult, put you at risk of human error and ultimately increase your costs. However, off-the-shelf software that’s fully integrated with other software and meets your business needs may not be available, or it may be extremely expensive. A custom application designed specifically for your organization’s needs will likely fit your exact workflow, feature requirements and budget. You’ll have full control over the functionality of the app, which means you can make whatever changes and updates you need to as your business goals change or as your business scales.
Custom apps are built specifically for your organization – including your team’s unique processes, functionalities, and other requirements. These apps are often much more flexible and scalable than off-the-shelf software because you have control over the entire development process. Custom apps are often the best option when you need to integrate multiple systems, are looking to create a fully customized solution, or want to control how your data is managed. For example, let’s say you’re a retailer that needs to integrate its supply chain management (SCM) software with a customer relationship management (CRM) tool. An off-the-shelf CRM solution may not be able to integrate with your SCM software, or vice versa. In this situation, it may be best to build a custom integration that can be fully integrated with both systems. Another use case would be when your company is in a relatively young industry that may not have been around long enough for software publishers to create an off-the-shelf product that meets your needs.
Businesses often must choose between off-the-shelf software and custom apps for their operations. While off-the-shelf software is available for a wide range of organizations, a custom app is designed specifically for your organization’s needs. Custom apps are often the best option when you need to integrate multiple systems, want to fully customize your app, or want to control how your data is managed. Choosing the right software development partner is an important decision in deciding if custom software is right for your needs. Zetaton has years of experience helping firms make this decision all over the world. Ultimately, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of each option before making a decision so you can make the best choice based on your organization’s needs.