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7 QUESTIONS TO DETERMINE WHETHER YOU NEED CUSTOM OR OFF-THE-SHELF SOFTWARE

April 27, 2017
MARINA DANILOVA
Sales manager
Every enterprise software provider is adamant to deliver their solutions for you, while smaller IT companies try getting your attention to develop unique solutions for your exact needs. There are dozens of advantages for both of these ways. So how do you decide? Take a few minutes to complete our simple 7-step checklist and by the end of this article, you will be able to make an educated decision.

YOUR BUSINESS HAS UNIQUE NEEDS

Some tasks are so common there are numerous solutions on the market to satisfy the most demanding customers. If you are looking for a way to track projects and assignments, or if you need an accounting software, there is no need to reinvent the wheel, just use one of the many existing off-the-shelf solutions. It will save you time and money. However, some problems are too unique to justify the expenses required to develop a new Microsoft Office Suite. If your business has specific needs, like tracking the influence of the phase of the moon on your employees' productivity, go for custom development. This recommendation is especially relevant when.

SOME SOFTWARE FEATURES ARE PARAMOUNT TO YOUR SUCCESS

Off-the-shelf software products usually possess numerous features to suit the widest range of applications. As a result, most customers do not use even 20% of the available features. Moreover, these one-size-fits-all products usually lack specific features that are vital to your business. Do you really want to pay for redundant possibilities you are never going to use? If you can find your way around the unnecessary features and make do with available solutions without spending too much time, off-the-shelf products are right for you. Otherwise, order a custom-made software product to meet your exact needs and expand them over time if

YOU REQUIRE REGULAR AND SPECIFIC UPDATES

Software development evolves and makes continuous updates possible for any application. Off-the-shelf solutions are usually updated and debugged regularly. But if you are not aware of the update schedule and don't have any say in it, newer versions can become a problem, rather than a solution. Think of all the data you might lose if the new release does not support the formats you use. If you want to control the frequency of updates and develop your application along with your growing business needs, custom development would be a wiser choice, especially if

YOU HAVE SPECIFIC SUPPORT AND TRAINING NEEDS

Expensive software suites attempt to provide you with all the tools you might need. However, it usually creates another problem, since users need special training to be able to fully appreciate necessary features. Most off-the-shelf software products come with an exhaustive guide. And even if the solution you need is not readily available, you can always address the Support team. The same can't be said about custom software. You will have to pay extra for the continuous support, but it will be concise and more personalized. Additionally, custom applications are usually easier to use because they provide the bare minimum of features you will actually use. Another factor to consider is whether

SOFTWARE WILL PROVIDE YOU WITH A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE

Off-the-shelf software might make your life easier, but custom products can truly revolutionize the way you do business. Consider all the manual processes that could be automated and improved with the right software. It would free your employees to work on the core elements of your business. The unique software could increase your customer satisfaction rate and attract new clients by providing services your competitors don't possess. And after you gain competitive advantage using your custom-made application you could sell it, but only if

YOU OWN THE RIGHTS TO SOFTWARE

Off-the-shelf solutions belong to huge IT corporations or innovative startups. It means that the software will be updated, supported and maintained without your input. On the other hand, you can't change anything about the product and you definitely can't resell it. Some solutions even require extra expenses if you need to bring more people on board. Off-the-shelf products are right for you if you are ready to be at the mercy of the software provider. If you require complete control over the products you use, choose custom development. But before jumping off the deep end, make sure

YOU ARE WILLING TO PAY FOR CUSTOM DEVELOPMENT

This might be the deciding factor, even if all previous arguments pointed you towards custom development. Remember, that custom application will always cost more in the beginning and will require more effort on your part during the development stages. Still, sometimes custom applications turn out to be cheaper in the long run, especially if you plan on expanding your user base. Many off-the-shelf products will require extra payments for new licenses and some will come with a yearly subscription.

If you think "I don't need that" about most of the points of this checklist, you are better off with off-the-shelf software suites and products. Otherwise, consider hiring a professional development team to meet your needs and create a unique software product that will help your business reach new heights.
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