If you are looking for a new software solution for your business, there are two options available – bespoke and off-the-shelf. KLOC are experts in software development and in this post, we aim to provide a balanced view of developing a bespoke software solution as we discuss the advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of bespoke software
- Customised to meet your needs
One of the key advantages of bespoke software is that, unlike off-the-shelf solutions, it is designed to meet your unique needs precisely, from the ground up. Everything you require is identified up-front and included in the development and can then be evolved as your business changes.
- Lower cost of ownership
Once your system has been built, you have no per-user or per-year license costs to pay. This is particularly significant if you have many users, leading to annual licensing costs measured in tens of thousands. Similarly, rapid growth in users will not be met by a growth in licensing costs.
- Gain competitive advantage
Whether it is by giving you a technological advance, or by offering customers something they cannot get anywhere else, bespoke solutions can help you stand out against your competition, increasing sales and driving retention. The net result – more profit and ultimately greater value for your business!
- Increase efficiency
Using software that doesn’t exactly meet your needs can be time-consuming and inefficient, often leading to the ad-hoc growth of un-approved sub-systems such as spreadsheets and online tools. By using a solution that was designed to meet your precise needs, processes can be handled from end-to-end in one integrated system, reducing the risk of data loss, security breach and errors, saving time and working more effectively.
- Greater agility
When your business needs change you can amend your system to accommodate the new reality, whatever that may be. There are no other users to consider and no waiting for your request to be accommodated (if it is accepted at all) by the provider.
- Long-term security
Once built, your solution will continue to serve you for as long as you need it. There are very few external factors that can prevent this. When you sign up to an off-the-shelf solution, you are in the hands of an external provider who may decide to make changes that you don’t like, take the solution off-line for maintenance at an inconvenient time or remove access to the service through ceasing to trade or mothballing the product.
- Build resalable intellectual property
When you build a bespoke solution, you are generating intellectual property (IP) which can be a valuable asset to your business. KLOC has all the facilities to market, develop and support your IP, and you can be as involved as you like with the process – either helping to sell it or simply counting the income!
Disadvantages of bespoke software
- Greater initial outlay
Developing a bespoke solution for your business typically requires more up-front investment than an off-the-shelf solution. It is worth noting though that with a bespoke solution, you only pay for what you need rather than paying for a wide range of functions that you may never use. Also, once your solution has been developed there will be no extra costs for additional licenses as you own the intellectual property.
- Longer time to implement
Off-the-shelf solutions are usually available immediately as you don’t need to allow any time for development. With a bespoke solution, you need to allow time to understand your requirements, develop the solution and then thoroughly test it. However, the time and effort to correctly configure an off-the-shelf solution should not be underestimated.
- Greater resource investment needed
While both approaches require a thorough understanding of the requirement and a good oversite of the implementation, managing and testing a bespoke software development project is very likely to require more input from you to ensure that the correct results are achieved.
Some people feel that bespoke development carries a greater risk than subscribing to an off-the-shelf solution. However, in our experience bespoke development projects that are properly executed can always deliver the objective. Furthermore, similar risks exist with off-the-shelf software, with limitations becoming apparent after going live that the provider cannot or will not address, leaving the new system operating in a sub-optimal manner.
A key question to consider when deciding which approach to take is whether the requirement in question embodies a unique aspect of your business. For example, if you have an innovative pricing mechanism or an unusual on-boarding journey that gives you a competitive advantage, then you wouldn’t want to compromise this by shoe-horning it into an off-the-shelf solution. Whereas, a completely standard sales process may be suited to an off-the-shelf CRM solution.
If you are looking for more information on this subject, you may be interested in some of our other blogs:
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