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Bespoke vs Off-the-Shelf Software: A basic overview.

Most businesses will reach a point where they need software or applications that will assist them with their operations, processes, and/or day-to-day needs. As a business owner, it is important for you to make sure you understand your options to the best of your ability, ensuring you don’t waste time, money, or effort on an unsuitable solution. 

This article compares how bespoke and off-the-shelf software can be beneficial for business. If you have any further questions or would like a deeper discussion on this topic, please contact us. We’d be happy to help, no strings attached. 

What is bespoke software? 

Bespoke software is a piece of software a business builds or contracts somebody to build and is tailored to the specific processes and functions of the business. This means the software is built from the ground up to ensure that all the businesses needs are met. 

What does bespoke mean for you? 

Efficiency  

Integrating Bespoke software means that you do not have to change any of your business’s processes to align with standardised software. This, in turn, creates a more productive environment as you continue to use the same processes in a more efficient manner or streamline them even further, as they are now automated. 

Integration  

When adopting new software, a major concern is compatibility with the current applications (and sometimes legacy software) in use. Unlike off-the-shelf software, which is prebuilt and packaged, bespoke software can be built and made to integrate with current applications so that no further investment is required to make everything work together. 

Independence 

When you choose the right partner, bespoke software means that your business will not have to worry about rising license fees or possible update fees, provided that you have the right in-house talents or support from your developer. With bespoke software, you can make changes and add features that you want, not what a software provider dictates you should have. 

Better Security  

Off-the-shelf software will always have security but is often a “One size fits all” approach and this is not the case with most businesses. Bespoke software security will be tailored to fit the specifications that the client has, meaning security will be tighter and the business is less susceptible to security issues. 

No Excess Features  

Often, out of the box software has a huge array of features and this can get very exciting for prospective users or businesses. Realistically, a number of these features a business or user does not need and will never use so they end up paying for things they don’t need as they are all part of one package. With bespoke software, the client picks and chooses what they want and need which means this is all considered in pricing. This can also be added to and changed at their will. 

No Conforming! 

Now, for the best part of bespoke software, you can do as you please (subject to the capability of the technology). Unlike regular out-of-the-box software, which is unable to be altered, your software is custom-developed to meet your needs and can be tailored according to your specifications (depending on your agreement with the developer). 

What is off-the-shelf software? 

It is software that is pre-made and pre-packaged for businesses or clients to purchase and install. This means that the integration is much faster as off-the-shelf software is a one size fits all solution for whatever function it is supposed to perform. 

What does off the shelf mean for you? 

Suitability  

Many businesses’ day-to-day operations are not as complex as they think. Often, there is an off-the-shelf product that will perform the tasks they need, so unless the business grows, their processes change and/or they require a more specific solution, there is no need to implement a bespoke solution. 

Cost 

Initially, off-the-shelf software is cheaper than bespoke development, because the initial investment is not usually as high, so it is a good starting point to work out what you want and need. The low cost is initial. It could be the case that as the business grows, you require more licenses at extra cost, or you require more functionality (a higher-level package) which would also come at a higher cost. 

Fast Implementation & Prior Proof of Functionality 

Because the software is pre-made it should, in theory, be easy to set up and install across an organisation. This means that there are probably a good number of businesses that have used the software before, which means prospective users can read reviews, case studies, and/or contact businesses that use the software to find out how useful, effective, and functional it is. 

Regular Updates 

Because the software provider has a certain number of products, they can focus on growing their software, adding functionality and fixing bugs on a regular basis. Usually, these upgrades are not up to the client, but are decided by the development team as to what they deem necessary at the time. The fixes can, however, come at a price to the end user. 

Online Help and Forums 

Again, since off-the-shelf software is a pre-existing product, users can usually find plenty of online help through guides and forums to solve any problem they may encounter, which is free when you do a google search. 

Our Thoughts! 

Like anything, software, both bespoke and off-the-shelf have their advantages and disadvantages. Whatever you decide, it’s important that you are well informed and have the best understanding of; the position you are in, the needs your business has, your budget, and what providers or solutions are available to you. 

If you choose bespoke software, then you need to pick a software developer/partner that you are comfortable working with on a project. A good relationship between you (the client) and your developer is imperative since, if communication is not there between both parties and you are not on the same page, it may result in your software not being suitable or not fully functioning. 

If you choose off-the-shelf, then you may be paying for things you don’t need or you may find that the software no longer serves your day-to-day operations because it may become outdated, discontinued, or your business needs will change, and it may become counterproductive. 

Contact us for help in finding out what you need to make your business thrive using a new software solution. We will tell you what we think is best for you and, if we are not able to deliver it, we will try to help you find someone who can.