Custom Software Solutions
When businesses need to solve a technology problem, most of the time their first thought is to try to find an off-the-shelf solution rather than getting custom software solutions.
The thinking, of course, is that off-the-shelf software costs less, carries less risk, and still provides most of the advantages of custom software solutions. There are a couple of reasons why this thinking isn’t always right:
Myth – Off-The-Shelf Always Costs Less than a Custom Software Solutions
With modern rapid application development, custom software developers have more tools than ever before. They can write software much more rapidly, with far fewer errors, at a much lower cost than they could just a decade ago. At the same time, many off-the-shelf products were built decades ago, using older technologies, and have yet to be re-written.
This means that it is very expensive for vendors to maintain these products which means they need to charge their customers a ton of money. It’s not unusual to see off-the-shelf enterprise software products costing $3,000 a month or more, just for license fees.
When you look at what it costs us to design a custom software solutions for our customers (which often can be for less than $10,000 total for the whole project), those costs start to seem ludicrous.
It is also imperative to remember that when you buy something off-the-shelf, you’re paying for 100% of the features in that product. But what if you only need 30% of those features? It is often much more cost effective to build a custom software solutions that provides just the features you need instead of paying for the ones you don’t.
Myth – Off-The-Shelf is Less Risky than Custom Software Solutions
While it might seem logical to think that buying an off-the-shelf product is less risky than building something yourself, that isn’t always the case. We hear countless stories from companies that bought products that didn’t work as expected. Most of them don’t realize their mistake until it’s much too late, and once they discover there are key features missing from their product, months or years later, they can’t make changes to the product themselves. This leaves their entire business at the mercy of the product developer.
What if on the next version of the software they take away the features that are important to you, or can’t move fast enough to add the ones you really need?
Myth – Off-The-Shelf Software Has All the Advantages of Custom Software Solutions
With an off-the-shelf solution, what you’re really buying is the minimum that will be acceptable and usable to the greatest number of customers.
But what if the features you need (to make your business really competitive and compelling) aren’t what your competitors want? And even if they do want it, why would you want to share your business model innovations with all your competitors?
What you should be doing is innovating and building on your company’s unique value proposition, which should be reflected in the software you use to run your business.
The Bottom Line
Well-designed custom software solutions will always outperform a generic off-the shelf solution. Your upfront costs will likely be higher, but in the long run you’ll save a lot of money through increased performance and lower maintenance costs. Custom software solutions has the added advantage that you only pay for the features you really need, while avoiding paying for all the features you don’t. Custom software solutions also protect your company’s proprietary secrets and help you maintain competitive advantage. Finally, custom software solutions give you more control, YOU decide when upgrades occur and YOU decide what features stay and what features go.