Purchasing software is a process that is much more involved than it may seem. There are many benefits and downsides to both off the shelf and custom software. So, before you dive into the purchase of off the shelf software or custom software, there are several things that should be taken into consideration. Ask yourself the following questions, and the answers you provide to each will help you find the right solution.
How big is my business?
What is my budget for software?
How soon do I need the new software?
Does my business model call for complicated processes?
Will my business continue to grow at a fast rate?
Does my business change and evolve frequently?
Why Purchase Off the Shelf Software:
Off the-shelf-software is designed to be simple and easy to use. Many of these applications are tried and true. Common examples of off-the-shelf programs include QuickBooks (accounting system) and ClearCompany (human relations management software). Their popularity and instant name recognition may make it seem like these programs are reliable and trustworthy. In fact, these programs may be more beneficial to small businesses that typically do not have many complicated processes or super-specific needs. Custom software has a much higher initial cost than off the shelf software which is a detracting factor for many companies with a tight budget. A second major difference between custom and off-the-shelf software is the amount of time it takes to set up. Off-the-shelf solutions are very easy to set up and can be purchased and installed (likely) within a single business day. Businesses with time constraints may want to consider starting with an off-the-shelf option so they can get the processes up and running much faster.
Why Purchase Custom Software:
Where off-the-shelf software excels in convenience and price, it fails in its ability to adapt to the needs of an individual company. The functionality of off-the-shelf software is generalized so that it can serve as many businesses as possible. However, when businesses have specific needs that need to be fulfilled, a fully-customized program would be beneficial. This is where custom software (and custom software developers) shine. Custom software development firms can develop programs from scratch that will support any business need. If your business is growing rapidly and is suspected to continue to grow at a fast rate, the use of custom software will be a far better decision as well. Why? Custom software can be modified to easily accommodate changes in your business.
Off the Shelf Software Downfalls:
Now that you recognize where off-the-shelf software shines, it is important to realize its downfalls. First, the features in a non-custom software are very general and difficult to customize for the specific needs of your company. Also, there are many implicit costs that are associated with off the shelf downfalls that need to be taken into consideration when looking at those programs as an option. You can read more about these implicit costs in our blog post: The True Cost of Off the Shelf Software.
Though custom software is beneficial for many companies because of its ability to include so many business-specific functions, there are some downfalls. One of the biggest reasons people decide against custom software is the price tag. The initial cost for custom software is significantly higher than off-the-shelf software. Also, custom software takes time to create because of all the nuances that are included.
How We Help:
At Troy Web, we believe that you get what you pay for and that good things come to those who wait. Although custom software is more expensive, it is a worthy investment because of the ease that will come with having software that suits your specific needs. However, custom software does not have to come in the form of a build from scratch. At Troy Web, we specialize in integration and modernization. This means that we can customize your current off-the-shelf software to better suit your needs. This way, you have software that complements your internal processes in a way that is less expensive than software built from scratch. We believe in open communication to fully understand your needs so we can create the best solution for your business. Though this may take more time, you will reap the benefits of a properly built program for years to come. The variety of clients Troy Web has helped has prepared us for whatever challenge faces us next. We have provided solutions for clients such as the GroundWater Protection Council, Davis Vision, and The Center for Internet Security. To learn more about the clients we have helped, visit our case studies page!
We're Troy Web Consulting, and we design and build kick-ass software!