As a business owner, leveling your company’s current needs with its long-term growth is not only vital, but challenging as well, especially if you are a startup. Difficult questions arise like whether you should aggressively invest in long-term initiatives or opt for the inexpensive and conservative approach. For instance, whether to purchase off-the-shelf software or go for custom software development is one cardinal question that most companies face when addressing their software application needs.
businesses initially start with off-the-shelf software as it is easily available and cheap, but eventually they will have to face the problem when it comes to customizing it in order to meet their day-to-day operations. When these businesses grow, and their operations expand, the problem becomes even more intense because off-the-shelf software lacks scalability. Ultimately, they will have to invest heavily in a custom software solution so that they could scale effectively. These businesses could have easily averted such problems if they had chosen custom software in the first place.
A solution via custom software development can offer a host of benefits, but businesses should only choose this option if:
a) It can offer a competitive advantage over the competition.
b) You are planning to build a large business that can distribute the cost of custom software development over a large number of customers.
Consider the following questions before deciding whether to go for off-the-shelf software or custom software.
Why should you consider investing in off-the-shelf software?
In some cases, choosing off-the-shelf software solutions may prove to be a more sensible option. Small businesses are the ones that may benefit more by choosing off-the-shelf software; however, they first need to take the following factors into account:
- Budget – The cost of custom software development is high and, therefore, a business needs to rethink whether to choose this option or avoid it. Off-the-shelf software solutions are inexpensive and because of it, choosing such solutions can make much more financial sense for a business with a small budget.
- Time – Developing custom software takes time, a considerable amount of time. Businesses that lack the luxury of time solutions should not go for custom, but choose off-the-shelf software solutions.
- Generic Business – If you have a generic business, such as a general store or a restaurant, then there are many great off-the-shelf software solutions available. For generic businesses, off-the-shelf software proves very effective.
Why should you consider custom software?
Developing a custom software is certainly expensive, but at the same time, it proves to be a good investment made. Custom software improves productivity and efficiency as well as caters to every requirement of a business. However, remember that you need to dedicate significant resources, energy and time for custom software development. Here are some reasons why you should consider custom software development:
• Off-the-shelf Software not doing the Trick: Off-the-shelf software solutions usually address the many needs of most companies. If your business has special needs, for instance, customer management, inventory management, content management, or business intelligence, custom software can be the best choice as it can cater to every unique requirement.
• Off-the-shelf Software is Rigid: Most off-the-shelf software solutions do not allow you to customize or modify their functionality. It may be difficult to add or remove certain features from an off-the-shelf software, leading to too few or too many functions for your business and creating complications.
• Off-the-shelf Software is Incompatible: Off-the-shelf software often does not collaborate with other programs. For instance, your business might rely on Software X to complete one task and Software Y to finish another, related task. If these two software applications do not communicate with each other effectively, they may impede your efficiency. Custom software allows integration of different APIs from different software, eliminating the issue of incompatibility.
The benefits of custom software
Your business is a progressive, growing organization, so your software too should adapt and grow with your company and not remain stagnant. If you do expect your business growing quickly, here are some ways in which custom software can help make it more scalable
• Better Productivity: Applications developed keeping your specific needs in mind can make your employees work faster and smarter. You can have one broad solution, in contrast to having multiple different applications. A comprehensive solution can yield better efficiency because all the data is in one place, and users do not have to shift from one application to another to generate results.
• Competitive Advantage: If your business relies on the same off-the-shelf software as your competitor does, you will not be able to do much to outperform them. By getting a custom software that is specifically designed for your specific business processes, you can gain a competitive advantage over your competitors. Remember? A custom software solution helps improve productivity.
• Advantage of Scalability: Custom software has the ability to adapt and evolve with your company. If in the later stages you need more functions, you have the capability to add them in your software. Similarly, you can remove the functions from the custom software if they no longer serve any purpose.
Despite the high initial costs, custom software is a sensible and valuable investment if you are hoping to build a thriving, considerable-sized business. Opting for custom software development to build a solution that addresses your company’s specific needs can certainly make your business stand on top the competition.