Custom or Off-the-Shelf Software – Which is Best For You?

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When deciding to pick up or develop software for your specific company, there are a multitude of issues to consider first. One of the biggest considerations is whether you’re going to go for customised software or an off-the-shelf solution. So, where are the biggest differences and what should you be aware of before making a decision? We’re going to look at the 5 biggest differences and what should be kept in mind.


This one is rather obvious, but needs to be thought of carefully because cost is often one of the biggest factors in determining which option an individual or business will choose. Customised software, by and large, will end up being more expensive than off-the-shelf options because customised software implies that it’s being built from the ground up and will obviously require more time and resources to complete. However, it comes at an obvious benefit, which leads us into our next point…


When you buy a standard piece of software, while it may be good, it’s likely going to be extremely limited in terms of what functionality it has. The opposite is true for customised software, simply by nature of the fact that it’s one of a kind. The person commissioning the development has wide control over functions and features because they can stipulate in detail what they require the software to do, while off-the-shelf options will only be able to do whatever their default functions allow and nothing more.


Getting started with something off-the-shelf is quite a quick process, while a custom project will require good communication with the developer both before the process starts and during the development cycle. Getting initial specifications on paper allows the developer to begin with the broader strokes of the software design, but there will always be subsequent communication necessary to make sure that the finer details are all in place. More communication is often better, because it means both parties can ensure they understand the expectations and limitations on the other side – we’ve even covered what to be aware of and what to communicate to a developer in a previous article.


This aspect ties somewhat into cost, and it might seem counter-intuitive at first. With off-the-shelf software, there are unavoidable licensing fees that are generally due periodically, meaning that although it might be cheaper to initially begin using, it’s possible that (depending on functionality) the off-the-shelf software can become expensive over an extended period. On the contrary, customised software is more expensive in terms of initial costs, but you’ll own the software and won’t have periodic licensing fees to worry about – this is a crucial thing to consider when budgeting. So in terms of which one has the best capacity to generate value over an extended period, custom software is more likely to be future-proof.


There’s no accounting for this aspect, and it’s primarily down to the idea that a company or individual has and how they want to implement it. Custom software allows for a lot more creativity in all aspects – from presentation to user experience – and that’s something that off-the-shelf software is extremely limited in. If you’ve got an idea and want its execution to be highly specific and customised, then getting in touch with a savvy developer to help you realise it from conceptualisation to practice is the best way forward.

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So if you’ve got something unique you want to get off the ground, or you just want to add a very personalised spin on existing software concepts and functionality, custom software offers a lot of benefits. Irrespective of which option you decide to opt for, the team at My Online Presence is well-versed in software solutions of every kind, and they’ll be able to advise you on which solution fits your personal needs best. Get in touch with them if you’d like to take your digital presence to the next level!

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