Custom vs Off-the-Shelf Software

Which software type should I buy for my business?


Choosing the right type of software for your business

When it comes to deciding whether 'off-the-shelf' or bespoke software is the right choice for you business, it helps to know the advantages and disadvantages of both. For your convenience we have compiled a list of pros and cons for both types of software, so you can make an informed decision.

Custom Software Pros

It is totally unique and custom-made to the client's specification and requirements.

Only one piece of software needs to be purchased which can cover all your software needs.

Eliminates data duplication which means errors are minimised and staff waste less time rectifying them.

Data is stored in one place, this increases security and eliminates the potential for errors caused by duplication.

Hardware does not have to cope with many software packages, just the one.

New functionality can be added, as and when it is needed with no need to move data to another system.

More support, as you have a direct line to the developers of your software.

Your software belongs to you, you own the intellectual property rights, meaning you are free to do what you want with your software.

If data needs bringing over from an old software system, the developers can usually automate this process.

Custom Software Cons

XAn upfront cost, rather than paying a monthly license fee. So the initial cost tends to be higher.

XNo instant access to the system. Although a large system can often be released in smaller sections, allowing partial use of the system, before the full product is developed.


Off-the Shelf Software Pros

Small upfront cost as payment is usually a monthly license fee.

Quicker access to the software once purchased if it can be downloaded or used online. If not, there is normally just a few days delivery time to wait.

Off-the-Shelf Software Cons

XAlthough off-the-shelf software can sometimes have customisable options, these will be severely limited and often unwanted.

XFor the majority of businesses, many licenses are required due to many users. The upfront cost may be low, but over time the cost can really start to mount up.

XMore than one software product has to be brought or licensed, to get all required functionality.

XStaff time wasted, due to having to switch between different software products.

XTime wasted due to copying and pasting from one software product to another, this also increases the risks of error being introduced.

XNo central storage, so data can often get out of sync, because the same data is stored on more than one system.

XMore software products to install and ensure they are up-to-date.

XCost of hardware may go up, as more than one program is running and more monitors may be required to view all the data.

XData from previous systems has to be manually brought across to the new software, often involving staff spending months entering old data into the new system.

If you're interested in bespoke business software, check out our five stage development process.