Bespoke vs Off-The-Shelf – Which is Right for Me?

When considering the implementation of a new system for any business, there are always many factors at play. You have your allocated budget and a rough idea of what you want, but what are the next steps?

What is Bespoke Software?

Primarily, bespoke software allows for a custom and tailored approach. It’s software that is specifically curated with an individual customer’s needs and requirements at the forefront of the design and development process.

Throughout the development of the system, constant, regular contact is made between the development team and the customer to ensure that the development is on schedule and still working towards certain targets and requirements.

This approach allows for an entirely adaptable environment for the customer.

With a dedicated expert software development team at your disposal, any changes or updates to that system can be requested, reviewed and implemented at any time.

It’s this philosophy that keeps customers of bespoke systems ahead of the competition using the same off-the-shelf software as one another. Staying one step ahead of others is always key to growth.

Whilst this method of development has a vast array of benefits, and looks to keep negatives to a minimum, there is one primary downside: the cost.

Undeniably, given that off-the-shelf software is generic, packaged software that can be resold to multiple consumers, price is much more competitive than its counterpart.

What about Commercial Off-The-Shelf Software?

There may be situations in your business where it simply isn’t feasible to develop new systems from scratch and instead it’s simpler and cheaper to use existing software packages.

These implementations of software are robust, ready-to-use, and usually allow for customisation for your brand. There’s nearly always going to be an option out there, but compromises are common.

Since these packages are designed specifically for the mass-market, there is a lot of refinement that takes place to ensure the best experience for their large customer base.

It’s important to remember that software packages are not built to a single customer’s requirements, therefore it’s crucial to perform due diligence when assessing which software is best for you. Given you will possess little to no control over upcoming updates or features, ensuring that you select a platform that has exactly what you need is key.

If there’s a specific feature that is necessary for your business, that a software package doesn’t adequately provide, this can certainly feel very restrictive for those using it.

Off the shelf software solutions certainly do have their benefits:

  • Much quicker to implement – Sometimes you really do just need that system up and running ASAP.
  • It’s typically the short-term cheaper alternative – You’re paying for a product that is being distributed to many customers, so prices are very competitive – But likely paid on a rolling monthly basis, which can certainly add up over time.
  • Support and documentation are almost always available – Not very technical? Most larger platforms provide 24/7 livechat, email or call centers to help you whenever you run into issues.

Do you have a system in mind and are still unsure of the best path forward?

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