Running a business requires taking tough and important decisions that may have financial apart from other effects in the long term. Investing in off the shelf software that is immediately available and cheap may cost the company in the medium term leading you to invest again in building a customized software solution if not well thought out. Both off the shelf and custom software have their pros and cons and depending on what the circumstances of your business dictate, you may have to take a call.
Listed here are some pros and cons of both. The pros of “off the shelf software:”
Such softwares are relatively cheap as the cost of production is distributed over large number of users.
It can be a sophisticated tool since the revenue from a large consumer base can be invested in its development
Software literature is easily available as there are other users using the same thing
Saves time as you don’t need to design or develop it
Now for the cons for “off the shelf software:”
The software is built generically and is used by a large number of different users. Like Word is used by college students, professionals, stay at home moms whose needs are varied and unrelated.
The organization has to alter the way it works in order to fit in, instead of the software fitting in with the existing technology in your company
The software may be huge and contain features that the company never requires and uses.
If you have trouble with the software, you are up against a faceless organization that doesn’t consider you to be among their priorities.
Your competitor probably uses the same software. You stand to gain no competitive advantage from using it.
Custom software development comes with its own pros and cons. Let us consider the pros of using
The software has been designed keeping your organizational needs in mind. So it will fit in exactly with your needs
It can be developed to interface with other applications that the organizations use providing an integrated IT environment.
Since it was developed on order, it is possible that you may have access to support services. Maintenance support will help enable you to get any difficulties addressed.
A professionally designed software will have functionalities that give you an edge over your competitors
Customized software will allow you to make changes if in future your business practices change
and demand so.
The Cons of custom software –
If you have developed the software through a vendor, procure the source code from them to
avoid trouble later.
Technical capabilities of the developer must be ascertained to ensure the right product delivery
It is an investment in time as developing a customized solution requires considerable time.
Considerable investment of finances; business justification required.
Bespoke software can afford you significant competitive advantages over your competitor. However if you are a small business owner, stick to a off the shelf product.