Custom Vs Off the Shelf Software – The Bespoke Route

If you have been pondering Bespoke Software vs Off the Shelf for your business – read on. We live in an age of constant technological development. All companies use technology throughout their businesses. As companies look to automate and simplify business processes, people naturally look to software to streamline the process. Choosing the right kind of software can make or break a business. With so many off-the-shelf and custom-made software available in the market, business owners frequently find themselves in the dilemma of not knowing what path to take.

As a accomplished web development agency in Perth, we have done a quick comparison to the two common routes here for your easy reference.

Custom Software Vs Off the Shelf Software | Businesses Software - Codesquad

What is off-the-shelf and bespoke software?

As the name suggests, off-the-shelf is software that has already been built, usually with a large number of features, and is ready for use right away.

Bespoke (custom-made) software is designed after taking into account the user’s business requirements and often has a smaller set of features that are targeted at the specific needs of the business.

Bespoke Software
Off-the-shelf(OTS)
Uniqueness
Build Built specifically to suit your business requirements. Generic software for a large number of clients.
Costs
Initial costs Initial design and development costs can appear to be high as the software is designed just for you. In the long run however, it is more cost effective, as you don’t need to keep changing the software to suit your changing needs. Initial cost is usually lower as a large no. of clients buy and pay for the same software, so the development costs are spread throughout all owners. There are often implementation and training costs to consider.
Licensing and user costs You’ll usually be paying only the initial development cost. There would be no license fees as the software is built exclusively for you, although there may be an ongoing cloud hosting fee.
Most of the large software providers opt for subscription programs – this is known as software as a service (SaaS) – you can expect monthly or annual fees.
Features
Control You have control over exactly what features your software will have. So, you’ll be paying for and using just what your business requires. You have fine granular control over how the software works.
The software comes preloaded with a large number of features. Many of these features may never be used by your staff and they can often confuse people.
Changes Since you own the software and code, you can easily add or change any functionality, according to your evolving requirements. This is important as business processes continually change and evolve as your company grows.
It is sometimes possible to get a developer to create “add-ons” which can be used to extend the functionality but you are always dependent on the original developers allowing this to happen.
Flexibility
Legacy Software Integration Existing software can be integrated if it has an API.
Integration is almost impossible unless it is an existing featured integration.
Compatibility between individual processes Business process analysis is central to the development of custom software. When performed properly, you will get a solution that unites all your business processes under a single package.
You may need different software for each process to suit your organization needs, making data flow difficult, if not impossible.
Time
Time to build The developer will need to understand your requirements, work on designing the software, testing and fine-tuning it, which will take time. To address this, you could get the basic and most critical functions built first and start using it, and then get the other features added on, saving on time. Off-the-shelf is just that. Install it and start using it, provided you don’t need integrations. However, even ready to use packages require training and implementation, which is often a hidden cost that people don’t take into account.
Getting updates and additional features Updates and additional features can be performed in a short time frame, as you own the code and the software is easily modifiable. Modifications, if possible, will take a long time to be built and integrated. Developers will only add features that are requested by a large number of clients.
Bespoke Software Off-the-shelf(OTS)
Uniqueness
Build Built specifically to suit your business requirements. Generic software for a large number of clients.
Costs
Initial costs Initial design and development costs can appear to be high as the software is designed just for you. In the long run however, it is more cost effective, as you don’t need to keep changing the software to suit your changing needs. Initial cost is usually lower as a large no. of clients buy and pay for the same software, so the development costs are spread throughout all owners. There are often implementation and training costs to consider.
Licensing and user costs You’ll usually be paying only the initial development cost. There would be no license fees as the software is built exclusively for you, although there may be an ongoing cloud hosting fee. Most of the large software providers opt for subscription programs – this is known as software as a service (SaaS) – you can expect monthly or annual fees.
Features
Control You have control over exactly what features your software will have. So, you’ll be paying for and using just what your business requires. You have fine granular control over how the software works. The software comes preloaded with a large number of features. Many of these features may never be used by your staff and they can often confuse people.
Changes Since you own the software and code, you can easily add or change any functionality, according to your evolving requirements. This is important as business processes continually change and evolve as your company grows. It is sometimes possible to get a developer to create “add-ons” which can be used to extend the functionality but you are always dependent on the original developers allowing this to happen.
Flexibility
Legacy Software Integration Existing software can be integrated if it has an API. Integration is almost impossible unless it is an existing featured integration.
Compatibility between individual processes Business process analysis is central to the development of custom software. When performed properly, you will get a solution that unites all your business processes under a single package. You may need different software for each process to suit your organization needs, making data flow difficult, if not impossible.
Time
Time to build The developer will need to understand your requirements, work on designing the software, testing and fine-tuning it, which will take time. To address this, you could get the basic and most critical functions built first and start using it, and then get the other features added on, saving on time. Off-the-shelf is just that. Install it and start using it, provided you don’t need integrations. However, even ready to use packages require training and implementation, which is often a hidden cost that people don’t take into account.
Getting updates and additional features Updates and additional features can be performed in a short time frame, as you own the code and the software is easily modifiable. Modifications, if possible, will take a long time to be built and integrated. Developers will only add features that are requested by a large number of clients.

Our best advice – if you can fit into an off the shelf package for a minimal price and without changing your business process, then go for it. However, if your business is specialized and has unique processes, a bespoke solution will serve you well and return your investment over and over again. It also adds value to your business.

Codesquad has rich experience in designing and supporting customized software solutions for hundreds of customers. Our software development team in Perth can undertake a business process analysis to help you decide which path to go down. Got any questions? contact us at 1300 790 166 or email us at squad@codesquad.com.au.

Codesquad is a member of The Computing Australia Group of Companies