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Off The Shelf VS Custom Software – PROS & CONS

Posted On: Sep 26, 2017



Organizational needs tend to vary from one way to another as the time goes on. Thus, there is a constant improvement cycle where new and efficient practices are deployed to ensure efficient business operations. Today, companies need to come out of their comfort zones and evaluate the efficiency of their day-to-day operations. This will help in resolving the shortcomings of dynamic business conditions and give a defined path for the future.

You need a partner, who understand that business priorities are decided on the basis of several considerations such as budget, cost, functionality, return on investment, etc. However, if you have been given a software that costs almost nothing, but it also does not fulfill the requirements of your business or address the challenges your organization is facing, the software would be termed ‘effectively worthless’. As they say, nothing comes for free - the free software might actually cost you in the form of overall staff training and much more.

Remember, the rule of thumb to run a successful business is by understanding how you would like to operate your business, fulfill its needs and what solutions you require to ensure all challenges are met.

Off-the-shelf software

It is possible that Off-the-shelf software meets the requirements of your organization. If this is the case, you should know what kind of software you want to invest in and be familiar with all of its offerings. An off-the-shelf software is a software designed to address the existing business challenges. However, they cannot be edited at a later stage if your business requirements change. I bet, you want to know the pros and cons of off-the-shelf software. Here you go:


  • Smaller (at least feels) initial investment.
  • Consists of numerous features - sometimes more than you actually need
  • Customer support is usually included
  • Eligible for free or discounted upgrades
  • Cannot be modified or altered to cater to changed business requirements
  • Hidden costs & annoying fine prints
  • No option for feature request unless it becomes a mass requirement
  • You might have to change organizational processes to adapt to the software
  • Unknown user training costs
  • Licensing and Auditing expenses
  • Your business functioning depends on the survival of software provider. Believe me, If they go down, you will be pulled down


Custom Software Development

If you want to get a software developed as per your desired functionality to meets your business needs, consider custom software development as your solution.

A custom software development would meet every business challenge you have and function the way you want it to. Here are the pros and cons of custom software development:


  • Your software can be developed considering minimum requirements. You can always add features in the initial or later stages
  • It would address and solve the problems your organization is facing  
  • Changes are done quickly and efficiently
  • Very minimal user training, often software development company provides training for FREE
  • Your intellectual property is safe with you.
  • Your life is not depending on stability of other company.
  • It will have higher success due to end user involvement and end user buy-in.
  • Relatively higher upfront cost or can be sliced into multiple years
  • Additional features, require additional investment


All in all, both solutions are designed to give maximum advantages to business. However, custom software development offers greater value of money as it is fine-tuned as per the individual needs of a business.