The ‘Buy or Build’ Dilemma
Any time a business is faced with implementing a software solution, the first question that will need to be addressed is “Should you buy or build?” While off-the-shelf software might initially sound like the best option, it often reaches a point where it is no longer sufficient. Careful thought should be given to the growth of the company to ensure time and money aren’t wasted with an off-the-shelf software which will be quickly outgrown. Initially custom software might cause some sticker shock upfront, but it often ends up being the less expensive option in the long run. Before we get into the advantages of custom software, let’s start with the question “What is off-the-shelf software?”
What is Off-the-Shelf Software?
Off-the-shelf software is a standardized application that is mass-produced, available to the general public, and able to be used immediately. These solutions are designed for a wide range of customers and typically have a comprehensive set of features that help streamline operations. Unfortunately, the fact that these software applications are designed for many different customers, means they may be unable to meet your unique expectations. Luckily, for every disadvantage there is to off-the-shelf software, there is an equivalent advantage to custom software.
Disadvantages of Off-the-Shelf Software
Let’s start with the most common disadvantages of off-the-shelf software.
One of the most attractive features of off-the-shelf software is its inexpensive initial price. Still, it often costs you more in the long run. These high costs are usually due to persistent fees like licensing and adding additional users. Adding more features or different versions of the software might also make it more expensive. By the end of the use of your product, it could actually end up costing you much more than a custom software solution. That’s why it is important to look past the initial cost and also consider the lifetime cost of the product.
Some companies that purchase off-the-shelf software are faced with compatibility issues. Your business’s operating systems, devices, or other software could clash with the purchased solution. This could make the software unusable or at minimum, extremely inefficient. Your software solution should complement the way you work, not force you to change how you work.
Difficult or Impossible to Modify
Off-the-shelf software is generally difficult to modify. So, you won’t be able to change the software as your business evolves. You also will not be in charge of the changes and upgrades made to the software. With off-the-shelf software, you may be required to modify your business practices and your team to fit the software instead of making the software fit your business. Plus, the inability to change might render the software outdated over time.
Limited to No Support
Unfortunately, not every off-the-shelf software solution comes with support included. And, that support and its availability can vary or depend on how much you’re paying. When purchasing one of these solutions, you have to investigate what support packages are available and for how much each month. And similar to how upgrades can stop over time, support might too. So if you encounter a problem, you will need to find a developer to help you.
Advantages of Custom Software
Custom software is often the better choice for businesses for these reasons:
The definition of custom software is also its biggest advantage. That is, it is built for the unique challenges and needs of your business. When done properly, custom software provides a near-perfect solution for your business.
Meet Every Need
Another advantage of custom software is that it can be designed to meet every requirement of your business. Whatever needs you outlined in the initial phases of development can be addressed. Instead of considering it “Nice to have,” you can actually have it.
Easy to Modify as Your Business Grows
Custom software is also able to be easily modified and expanded. This means that you can keep it in line with your changing business and changing technology. Since you own the software, you can adjust it however and whenever you need.
Gain Competitive Advantage
Finally, custom software can give you a competitive advantage over your competitors. Your custom solution is something that they don’t have and can’t get access to. With quality software, you can get ahead of your competitors.
What to Do if Your Off-the-Shelf Software Stops Being Effective
Although we don’t typically recommend off-the-shelf software, you may have deemed that it was the right solution for your business. Or, you may have already purchased it and can’t back out now. If you have noticed that your purchased software has shortcomings affecting your business, custom software integrations might be a great option for you.
In some cases, there is not one software solution that can offer a complete approach to cover an entire business. When this is the case, custom software integration may be used. This is when multiple pieces of software are made to work together seamlessly.
For example, say you purchased a new accounting software. But that software doesn’t easily communicate with your POS software. That creates a significant inefficiency that takes up valuable time and resources. With custom software integration, your off-the-shelf accounting software can be made to cooperate with your POS system. Thus saving you from manually entering the same information into multiple systems each time there is a purchase.
Custom Software from Dorian Solutions
One thing is certain about a business—it is always changing. As your business’s needs change, you want software that will be able to change with you. Off-the-shelf software might be good for a snapshot in time, but often isn’t a good solution for the long run. When you want custom software that meets your business’s unique requirements, custom software from Dorian Solutions is your best choice. We will learn exactly what you need right now and help anticipate your future needs to create your optimal solution.
Even if you have a problem but you’re not sure how to fix it, we can help. We will consult with you to provide you a variety of solutions designed to match your needs. Reach out today so you can get back to growing your business, and not just running it.