Does Your Business Need Custom or Out-of-the-Box Software?

There are many points to consider when choosing software for your company, but in the end, it often comes down to one simple question – should you order custom development or pick an out-of-the-box (OOTB) solution?  

Custom vs Out-of-the-Box. Should I Build or Buy?

Prior to making a decision, you should consider a number of questions

1/ Is the software essential for the success of your business? 

2/ Who will work with the software?

3/ Do you need special support?

4/ How important is the cost?

Both scenarios have their pros and cons. Custom software caters to your company’s specific needs. It is a tailor-made solution that is meant for long-term use and enhanced productivity. An out-of-the-box product is cheaper, faster to deploy, and is aimed at less tech-savvy users, but as it is designed for a wider audience, it may not tick every box in your list of requirements. 

So what should you do? Let us look deeper into the lists of benefits of OOTB software and custom software development.

Custom Development Benefits

1/ Business processes as you want them. The solution caters perfectly for your business’ needs, delivering higher value to your customers and providing opportunities for adding new features. Staying ahead of the competition usually means offering stakeholders something unique, and that can rarely be achieved by using a generic solution. If you need a truly innovative solution, custom development is your choice. 

2/ Long-term cost efficiency. While being more expensive than a typical OOTB solution, custom software allows for saving money in the long run. It is free of any licensing fees that may go up over time and you do not need to replace it in a couple of years with a newer version. 

3/ As flexible as it gets. Custom software boasts of incredible flexibility. You can integrate or delete any feature you want, including third-party Application Programming Interface (API). 

4/ Personalized training. Packaged software is intended for the mass market, and so are its training materials. Therefore, training programs for out-of-the-box solutions can be very vague and not relevant to your business. With custom software, you get your own custom training. 

Custom Development Cons

1/ Not budget-friendly. Developing a custom solution requires a vast knowledge of coding and programming – and an equally large budget. 

2/ Time-consuming. If you need a solution ASAP, then custom development is not your best option. 

If you go for custom software development, there is also an important point to consider, namely, whether you will do it in-house or outsource it. In the post-pandemic world where employees would rather quit their jobs than return to the office full-time, your choice of development team is no longer limited to one city, country, or even continent. 

Useful read: ​​How to Сhoose the Сountry, Outsourcing Partner and Business Model

Custom development may look like a clear winner, but what if you need to manage a standard business process? In this case, an OOTB solution can be a good fit. Let us consider its pros and cons, too.

Out-of-the-Box Software Benefits

1/ A price that pleases. OOTB software is generally cheaper than any custom development. 

2/ Ready for action. With an off-the-shelf solution, you can start enjoying benefits more quickly as it is ready to perform.  

3/ Wider availability. If you work in a common industry, such as retail or banking, there is a wide choice of OOTB solutions that have proven their worth in large enterprises. Generally, if an OOTB solution covers 80% of your needs, you should go for it. 

4/ Caters for all users. Intended for a wider audience, OOTB software does not require advanced technical skills and typically can be used by anyone. 

Out-of-the-Box Software Cons

1/ Licensing fees and their growing costs. In most cases, OOTB software comes with licensing costs and limited functionality. It may seem cheaper than custom solutions, but if you have a large team that requires additional features, in the long run, custom development may save you more money. 

2/ Not 100% what you want. OOTB solutions serve a larger customer base, which means that they have to be more generic and suitable for a larger audience. If your business processes are far from standard, OOTB may not be your best bet. 

What Should I Choose Then?

As you can see, there are benefits of both custom and OOTB solutions. To choose the right one, you need to analyze your company’s needs, as well as budget, the tech expertise of the employees who will use the software, and expected longevity of the solution.   

Conducting a thorough analysis may help you to understand the true costs and ROI of a decision. It is vital not to rush and to think over pros and cons. If you have waited that long, you may wait another month or two. 

It is up to you to decide on the kind of solution that is suitable for your business. But remember: a company should not adapt its workflow to a solution – it is the software that should adapt to your needs and enhance your company’s productivity.

Darya is a marketing and communications professional with more than six years of experience in tech companies. When she’s not writing blogs, creating content, or planning marketing campaigns, she’s probably dancing at a Taylor Swift concert, walking her miniature schnauzer, reading books, or cross stitching. Outside of tech, Darya’s areas of interest include entertainment and pet charity.

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