Pros and Cons of Custom Software

Posted by Leisa Redmon | July 3, 2020

Most companies often have two options when choosing to enhance their team’s efficiency and productivity: they can either purchase an off-the-shelf software solution or hire an agency to create a customized software solution.

While some businesses might be perfectly content to adopt canned solutions in an attempt to optimize their workflows, some companies might want to explore how a custom software solution can help clean up their organization’s efficiencies. 

However, even with the best intentions in mind, jumping into the deep end with custom software can appear daunting. In this blog, we aim to help you decide which software solution fits best with the needs of your company by breaking down the pros and cons of custom software.

Let’s take a look.

Pros of custom software

Exact specifications

Exact-specifications

Off-the-shelf solutions, also referred to as COTS, MOTS, GOTS, and NOTS, are commonly available for businesses that need a pick-and-play model. 

However, instead of using the same business tools and workflows as Joesameindustry Downthestreet, adopting a customized software means your company can confidently walk headfirst into efficiency while also gaining valuable insights about your customer’s journey. 

Developing software specific to your team’s needs means you can build exactly what you want and need, and leave out anything you don’t. This process allows many team members to identify with both detail and certainty the processes that work, while identifying which could be optimized with a custom solution. 

The ability to pivot and scale

When your organization pivots and grows, so can your software.

Although SaaS providers roll out updates and features usually without additional fees, those new features rarely come tailored to the needs of your business. A fully customized software allows your company to start with a minimally viable product (MVP) and make adjustments or scale for growth, as needed. 

Complete ownership and security

Unlike off-the-shelf solutions in which there can be ongoing license costs, subscriptions, or maintenance contracts, owning a fully customized software platform means your team has complete ownership and rights.

Furthermore, if working with a development team to create custom software, security precautions can be baked into the foundation of the development process. 

Because off-the-shelf solutions are generalized for the masses, many hackers are drawn to these programs and can easily access weak points in the software. When your team chooses to create software from the ground up, you gain a huge advantage when it comes to ensuring the security of your clients.

Cons of custom software

Cost

Most over-the-counter software products are usually less of an initial investment than their custom counterparts. 

Some of these solutions might offer trials and premium features for an additional fee or monthly subscription; however, for the most part, many small businesses and startups can get away with this lower-cost software...until they can’t anymore. 

Monitoring and maintenance

Many SaaS products come with customer support, albeit generally on community support forums. However, to that point, because the software was created to be universal, if you or your team is looking to receive prompt attention, you might be on the losing end of the battle.

Some applications can need little to no maintenance, while others can require a lot. The nature of whether or not support is needed comes down to the complexity of the software and how it was coded. These factors are hard to determine when purchasing directly off the shelf. 

Ultimately, no matter how you slice it, technology and the needs of users change over time. If your software becomes completely obsolete by chance, your team will need to decide whether or not a full revision of the software is necessary.

Time

Unlike an off the shelf product, customized software does not adhere to the plug and play model and requires more time and effort from key stakeholders.

While off-the-shelf software can be relatively instantaneous, custom software can take months to build. However, to that point, working with an agency that adheres to a process of constant iteration, much like that of an agile software development process, can be of lasting value and benefit. 

Every business, regardless of size, has a unique set of needs. Actively assessing those needs in parallel to the capabilities of an off-the-shelf software solution or a customized software solution is integral to choosing the most appropriate and cost-effective solution for you and your team. 

Want to break down the pros and cons of custom software for your business? Schedule a free consultation with our team today. 

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