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    Commercial Off the Shelf vs Custom Software – What is Better for Your Business

    Commercial Off the Shelf vs Custom Software – What is Better for Your Business

    Tracy Watson


    8 min read

    Commercial Off the Shelf vs Custom Software

    Nowadays, pretty much every company uses software to fill business needs. With such a wide variety of software products to choose from, entrepreneurs must provide their customers with the best software possible. You have a couple of options when deciding how you want to deploy the software: custom software and off the shelf software. If we look at something like a CRM or enterprise resource management solution, such products come with lots of built-in features, but they will only be effective if they meet the company’s business needs.

    Let’s look at the two, so you can make an informed decision about when and which one you should choose.

    Off the Shelf vs. Custom Software

    Before we get into comparing and contrasting the two deployment options, let’s define each of them. Custome software, also referred to as, bespoke software, will be created to fit your specific needs. You give the development company your requirements, and they will analyze them and come up with a custom approach to create such a product. Some features of custom software programming include:

    • Completely customizable;
    • Contains only the functionalities that you need;
    • Ongoing support;
    • Flexible pricing.

    Commercial off the shelf (COTS) software is something that you can buy and use right away. The companies that make such products usually employ a one-size-fits-all approach where they sell the same set of services to all customers with minor levels of customization. While these products will be based on general best practices, they may not fit your individual needs. The characteristics of out of the box software include:

    • Fixed price;
    • Out-of-the-box features built-in;
    • Not tailored to your unique requirements;
    • Based on general market strategies to drive results.

    Now that we have a general understanding of the two deployment options, we can start comparing and contrasting to determine which one is best for you.

    Commercial Off the Shelf Software pros and cons

    Difference Between Generic Software Product and Custom Software Development

    There are five main differences between the custom-built software and COTS software:

    1. Functionality

    You will be able to enjoy greater functionality with custom software development because it will be built with your unique requirements in mind which can be tailored for any task. COTS software will be very limited in this regard. You will rarely be able to ask the company that created software for some additional modules or to remove something you do not need.

    2. Implementation

    With custom-built software, you will be able to install new apps without running current processes or losing core data. Also, as your company grows, it will be much easier to scale this type of software and change functionality. Integrating COTS software is a bit more complicated. Since it is not tailored to your needs, you risk damaging vital data or incur additional expenses.

    3. Support and Maintenance

    Custom software solutions will come with ongoing support for as long as you use the product. You will not have to deal with bugs, system outages, or outdated tools since you will always have a dedicated team standing by to help you. COTS software also usually has reliable support provided that they have a lot of customers using their product, and they need to keep them happy to maintain their reputation. However, they may be late coming out with regular updates or even charge an extra price for one.

    Custom Made Software pros and cons

    4. Time

    It will take more time to create software that is tailored to your individual needs so that the COTS software might win in this regard. Software development companies try to speed things up by using Agile methodologies and MVP demonstrations, which can use to check basic functionality. However, it will take at least a few months for the final product to be deployed.

    5. Costs

    While considering all of the expenses, it is crucial to take into account the total cost of ownership. While custom software might have higher initial costs, it will have lower operating costs. Therefore, you might pay a higher price for the development, but you will be taking a lot of burden off the shoulder of your developers and engineers who will not have to waste time dealing with bugs or extensions. On the other hand, COTS software will have lower upfront costs but higher service expenses. They usually charge by the user or license, which means that you will have to pay for each month. It will also cost you extra if you would like an upgrade, additional customization or support.

    Making a decision

    When making such a decision, it is vital to take into account your business requirements and the needs of your team. Each piece of software will need to be evaluated on an individual basis. If you need something you can plug in and use right away, then you should choose COTS software. However, if you find that your requirements are so unique that it will be too costly and time-consuming to adapt an existing product, then you should choose custom software development from Skywell Software company perhaps? Do not let the costs deter you. While it may be tempting to buy a subscription or license and start using the solution right away, you could end up overpaying in the end by having to add or take away features or any additional customization. Therefore, choose wisely. Once you decide to commit to a product, it could be too costly to change to something else.

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