When it comes to choosing software for your organization, you have two options: purchase a commercial, off-the-shelf software, or build a custom software system.
This decision should not be made without significantly considering the costs and benefits of each option, as well as the short- and long-term goals of your business. Both ready-made and custom software systems have their advantages and disadvantages, and making an informed decision based on data and research will help guide your company for years to come.
How does ready-made software work?
Ready-made software is a quick and easy solution to meet many of the basic needs of a business and can be a great initial investment. These software systems are designed to meet generic requirements across a variety of industries and can be an answer for companies that do not have the time or budget to build a custom solution.
However, there are many shortcomings in ready-made systems. The initial costs saved by purchasing an off-the-shelf option will eventually be spent on system upgrades, licensing, additional employee training and maintenance. Commercial systems may also choose to stop offering updates on older systems, potentially leaving your system unsupported and stagnant.
Another challenge of ready-made software is the cost of maintaining and modifying a generic system. With federal privacy regulations constantly evolving and your own business continually searching for new ways to grow and scale, a sizable portion of your time will need to be spent updating and modifying your generic software to meet your specific needs.
Commercial software also can’t offer the flexibility that a custom software system can provide and may not be useful in addressing the unique challenges and demands of your organization. In this way, ready-made systems just can’t compete with custom solutions. In fact, investing in custom software development allows you to consider the long-term goals of your company and then create an intentional system that can flex alongside your business as it grows.
What are the benefits of custom software?
Before learning about the full scope and capabilities of custom software, some of our (spark) clients believed that a custom system was out of reach for their business. In fact, businesses of any size can benefit from a custom software development system if they seek a long-term solution to maintaining and scaling their business. So, before you dismiss the idea of building a custom software system for your business, here are the benefits of using custom software.
Custom Software Development is:
- Tailor-made to suit the specific needs of your business
- Able to produce a high ROI in the long run
- Equipped to provide extra security
- Designed to provide you with independence
- Extremely flexible and scalable
- Built to integrate smoothly with your existing tools
- Quicker and easier to operate and maintain
- Supportive of built-in automations
- Created to optimize internal processes and logistics to promote long-term success
- Always available and able to be updated
- Coupled with ongoing support (which is typically included in the contract)
- A way to gain an advantage over industry competitors
What are the risks of custom software?
When making the decision between ready-made and custom software, there are always risks to consider.
There are significant time and financial investments. Just like any bespoke business tool, developing a custom software system will require more of an initial time investment than buying a cut-and-paste commercial system. Custom software not only takes time to develop, but it also takes longer to test iterations and remove any bugs from the system before it can be implemented.
In addition, burdening your existing internal IT team with the task of building a custom software system might not be feasible, so outsourcing the system’s creation might increase the initial cost to your company.
When should you choose custom software over ready-made software?
Now that you have weighed the pros and cons of custom software development, you can examine your company’s needs and timeline. Look at your long-term financial and consumer goals to help determine if now is the right time for your business to choose this option. You may decide a custom software system is right for you if:
- Your existing off-the-shelf software is meeting less than 80% of your business needs
- You need high-quality software that is compatible with your existing tools and systems
- Your ready-made software isn’t providing enough security to meet your business’s privacy requirements
- You want to increase efficiency and productivity by automating repetitive tasks
- You need to introduce new functionalities or eliminate outdated ones
- You are looking for new ways to compete within your industry
- You have the time and budget to create custom software
- Key participants, including your internal teams as well as developers and business partners, all agree that a custom solution is best for your business
The right custom software development system should improve the overall quality of your business. The system you choose should meet the needs of your customers, increase the success rate of meeting project deadlines, fit into your existing budget, and enable you to meet current privacy and compliance requirements. And, if you are concerned about burdening your internal IT team with the task of developing a custom system, remember that outsourcing custom software development to a production agency like (spark) could also be an option to get your business the solution it needs.
For businesses looking for greater flexibility and scalability as they grow, bespoke software solutions tailored to meet their unique business needs may be the best long-term solution. Greater efficiency, productivity and competitive advantage can often be achieved through custom software.
As a full-service production agency, (spark) can also provide custom software development and custom app development for our clients. To inquire about how (spark) can propel your business forward, either through our custom software or digital marketing solutions, reach out to a team member today.