The idea of buying commercial off-the-shelf software is appealing at first glance.
Not only does it reduce your time-to-market, but purchasing an off-the-shelf solution doesn’t require as much time as building a custom app from scratch. It also seems as if your upfront investment will be lower overall to gain the functionality you need. Although, it’s important to note that choosing that route means doing away with all the benefits of custom software development.
Let’s take a look at the several disadvantages of off-the-shelf software.
- You have to wait for the provider to update their tool or even patch a critical threat at their own pace.
- You’re essentially offloading your data security to a third party.
- A ready-made product may not be compatible with your current business processes, compliance requirements or any key integrations you currently use.
- It may cause productivity gaps and potential customer service slumps if your employees or customers need training to use it.
For these reasons and more, top companies around the world invest in custom software development companies to buildthe software they need. Netflix, for example, spent more than $53 million to develop a custom solution, since third-party software simply couldn’t meet the company’s needs for data confidentiality, continuous improvement and scalability.
Specific businesses like Lyft, Uber, Facebook, and Amazon have invested tens of millions to billions of dollars into custom-developed software, but you don’t need to be a Fortune 500 company to enjoy the benefits of a development service.
Here are a few more reasons why you may want to consider building custom, bespoke software for your business.
1. You Retain Full Ownership of the Solution
When you build a solution from scratch, you own it, and you get to choose exactly how you’ll use it.
You decide, for example, how often to update it. You also don’t have to constantly be bothered by third-party availability issues. You can upgrade your custom software application at times that are convenient for you, so you can patch an issue without interrupting service.
Moreover,throughout the development process you can pinpoint which features your users frequently use and which ones you can decommission to lower your operating costs. You can also easily add extra features to support long-term trends such as cloud solutions for remote work. Or you can tailor current features to help meet market demand, such as by migrating a legacy application to the cloud to enable online services.
2. Custom Software Development Builds to Spec
A lot of off-the-shelf software includes bloatware. Unfortunately, you have to pay for all those features you’ll never use. If you run software like this in a cloud environment, you’ll rack up excess cloud costs, since the redundant tools can use more CPU, memory and storage than you actually need.
With custom application development, you get software designed for your specific needs, enabling you to pay only for what you use. Your custom platform provides all the features you need in one place, eliminating the need to migrate your workloads from one provider to another in search of an all-in-one third-party solution.
3. Tailor-Made Software Can Be More Cost-Effective in the Long Run
Building custom software can be thought of as a one-time capital expenditure (CAPEX). In contrast, paying a recurring subscription for a SaaS solution, for example, adds to your operating expenses (OPEX). As operating costs rise, your gross margins reduce, lowering your profitability. Lower profits may mean you won’t have enough funds left over for innovation, hiring skilled employees or marketing your services to remain competitive.
Subscription fees may seem lower at first, but they can add up over time. You may also incur unnecessary costs if you have to switch providers if a program no longer supports a key functionality you need (and if the provider does not appear to have an update in the pipeline).
4. Custom Solutions Optimize Data Security
Many organizations face a harsh reality after subscribing to ready-made software: they have to trust that their sensitive data will be protected by someone else’s monitoring system.
Today’s SaaS providers promise not to track your business data, but the catch is that they may need to monitor your workload for “security reasons”. With your own solution, one of the main custom software benefits for your business will be that you can implement specialized data security protocols, access permissions, best practices and accountability processes to optimize your cyber security.
5. Custom Software Makes It Easy to Integrate With Other Solutions
Because off-the-shelf solutions are invested in keeping you on their platform, you may be limited by the number or the scope of the integrations you can have with them. As a result, the possibility exists that you won’t be able to use a vital integration if your current provider offers a competing product.
That’s why one key advantage of custom-built software is getting a solution that can integrate with any tool you need to run and grow your business.
6. Custom Software Can Be Easier to Learn, Operate and Troubleshoot for Your People
Custom application development follows your existing policies and procedures. As a result, you shouldn’t have to spend a lot of time or money training and onboarding your users.
And, because your users are already familiar with your systems, they should know what to do when performance, usability or other problems arise that could degrade the user experience or lead to a service outage.
7. You Get Personalized Support
Off-the-shelf software is produced for a larger audience and its makers typically have many customers and little knowledge of how your organization uses their software.
Having many customers means they may not respond quickly to technical issues you encounter. It is also possible that, if you can reach them, they won’t know what caused the issue – or how to solve it – as they may be unaware of how your unique business processes interact with the program.
Custom-built solutions, on the other hand, can be tailored to your business model, IT environment and workflows. Since developers understand how the solution relates to your business, they’re more likely to be able to quickly identify the root cause of an issue. As a result, you’re better able to provide services continuously, rather than losing business due to extended service delivery issues or outright outages.
Breaking Down the Benefits of Custom Software Development
We’ve noticed a pattern over the years.
Clients often tell us they were initially reluctant to build custom software from scratch because they assumed they’d have to first hire an entire software development team full-time and pay them well to keep them in-house.
Of course, what they quickly learn is that this type of investment is entirely unnecessary. It’s much more economical and productive to work with a nearshore provider that can offer a team of vetted, experienced and on-demand engineers who know how to build cost-effective software.
Using their experience lets you solve your technology challenges without hiring a full-time staff, while also gaining the benefits and advantages of custom software.
At Simpat Tech, we have years of experience developing custom software solutions for different environments and industries. Talk to us today about building lasting solutions to your biggest technology challenges.