Why choose a tailored software solution over off-the-shelf products and for who it's best suited for.
Liis Siitan — 2023-11-02 (4 minute read)
You're facing a business problem that needs solving, and you're torn between acquiring a ready-made off-the-shelf product or opting for a tailor-made software solution. In the following article, we'll outline the pros and cons of both options based on our experiences to help you make an informed decision.
A tailored solution refers to software that is built from the ground up to meet the specific needs and requirements of a particular company while being entirely unique within its field.
In the case of custom-made software, thorough preliminary work is done to pinpoint precise needs and objectives. This ensures that the entire software is created according to your wishes and business processes, with every detail carefully considered. Thanks to comprehensive preparatory work and unique solutions, it is possible to develop a software solution that increases your company's productivity and saves valuable time. Such software can be integrated with existing systems and can be easily further developed as your company grows and evolves. Thus, software developed as a tailored solution is sustainable in the long term, and by making need-based improvements, it will continue to meet all your future needs and desires. Software created this way belongs to your company, allowing you to use it indefinitely and control precisely how it's used. Your innovation will make your business stand out in the market, giving you a distinct advantage over competitors.
One additional benefit is security since it is a unique system, making it difficult for hackers to become familiar with it, and breaching the system is more challenging and time-consuming.
While developing and implementing a tailored solution may initially be more expensive, in the long run, it is cost-effective, and the other benefits far outweigh the initial higher investment. Moreover, you can have a say in the pricing and terms during the development process, allowing you to achieve an agreement that suits you. This solution also offers a potential additional source of income in the future if you decide to sell your development or usage rights to others.
One downside of a tailored solution could be the time it takes because implementing the software initially requires more time. In addition, the software needs continuous management, either by an external partner or an in-house team. However, the advantage here is that due to the personalized approach, your questions and concerns won't be sidelined in favor of another client's needs, which can sometimes happen with off-the-shelf products.
Choose a tailored solution if you are a larger company with a sufficient budget and a desire to gain an edge over competitors. It is also a better choice if changing existing business processes is not straightforward or efficient, and integrating new solutions with old ones is more convenient.
An off-the-shelf product is pre-built software that is immediately usable, with fixed prices accessible to all.
With off-the-shelf products, you can analyze existing products and read customer feedback to determine if the specific product meets your expectations and needs. If the off-the-shelf product fits your systems and business processes, its implementation is faster compared to a tailored solution. However, if it doesn't align with your needs, adopting it might take more time because integrating it with your existing systems and processes can be challenging.
While initially more cost-effective, adopting an off-the-shelf product includes hidden costs. In addition to licensing fees, you'll need to pay for various add-ons and updates, which can become costly in the long run. In most cases, the terms and prices of off-the-shelf products are fixed, and you have limited room to negotiate an agreement that suits your specific needs.
An off-the-shelf product may look perfect on paper, but when you start implementing it, you're likely to discover numerous flaws and may have to compromise on certain requirements. Since off-the-shelf products are designed for many users, they do not cater to your company's individual needs and may not solve all your existing problems or may solve them differently from what you're accustomed to. Furthermore, requesting changes or modifications to such a product can be expensive or may not even be possible. Off-the-shelf products often come with many unnecessary features that you'll pay for, even if you don't use them.
As your company grows and evolves, you may find yourself needing more expensive upgrades and new features, or you may face a situation where the product is no longer being updated, or the service provider goes out of business due to bankruptcy, requiring you to find a replacement. In such cases, starting the journey all over again, a tailored software solution might be the easier option to meet all your new demands and desires.
Off-the-shelf products may also be less secure because they have many users and have been on the market for a longer time, making them more susceptible to hacking.
While off-the-shelf products do come with user support provided by the product's owner, getting assistance can take longer due to the large user base.
Choose an off-the-shelf product if you are a smaller business with a limited budget and are willing to adapt your business processes to the selected product's systems.
To make your decision, consider the extent of your specific needs and requirements and your long-term goals.
If you're unsure whether an off-the-shelf product will address your company's problems and needs or if you want a tailored solution, don't hesitate to contact us. We can help determine your company's needs that align with your objectives and create unique software accordingly.
Solutional is an agile software development company which has a team of professional engineers who are able to solve all software problems from beginning to the end without any middlemen.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org in case you have any new or existing projects needing help with successful execution.