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Bespoke Software Development vs Off the Shelf

When it comes to software, there are two main options available to consumers and companies. You can either have a piece of software custom developed to fit with your specific requirements, or you can simply pick up some already developed software off the shelf.

There are a number of benefits to both options, and in most cases, the one you go for will depend on the type of business you are operating, and whether or not having some bespoke software developed for your company is an economically feasible option.

What software would you need customized?

Software comes in a wide range of choices, and can refer to different types of software from operating systems for computers to specific applications with which you can perform various tasks. Some of the most commonly known software is the Windows operating system which has been around for many decades now, and is something everyone around the world will likely have used (apart from some diehard Mac users).

You can also find software that does specific things such as web development, video editing or 3D models. In most cases, this type of software is not something that a company will have customized, unless there was a real need for it. Off the shelf software such as Photoshop for image editing and Dreamweaver for web design have more than enough features and functions to meet the requirements of the most demanding users.

However, there are some types of software such as accounting systems, stock taking and customer record management that might need to be specifically developed to meet certain requirements of a company. Goodcore are a good example of a software development company providing a custom service, and can help develop bespoke software for your business.

Differences between bespoke and off the shelf software

The main difference between the two types of software is the cost. It is much more affordable for small businesses to use off the shelf software for various aspects of running their business. Software for something such as accounting will usually have enough of the basic features that every business will need, and though it won’t be a solution that will meet the needs of everyone, it should be enough to get the job done.

If you were looking to have some software custom developed for your company, then there will be a much higher cost, as you are having something made from scratch. Software development usually involves a team of specialists, including everything from test engineers to business analysts, each playing a vital role in the final development of your bespoke software.

The second difference between the two is related to time. With off the shelf software, you just need to pop into your local computer store, or jump online, and purchase it. With off the shelf software, it’s ready to use right away. Just pick the exact software you want, and you are good to go.

With bespoke software, you are going to have to wait for at least 3-4 months (in some cases longer if the software you want developed is a complex system). There are several stages of software development, with the main three being the design, development and testing.

With most bespoke software that is custom developed, there will always be some problems and bugs to iron out, and it might take a while until you have a properly working version. Though there is a much longer waiting period for bespoke software, in the long term, it will be much more beneficial to your company, as it is being developed to your exact requirements.

Advantages of bespoke software for your business

If your business can afford it, it’s always best to go with customized software. This way you can have the software working exactly as you need it, rather than you changing the way you and your business operate. There may be some off the shelf software that does what you need but which may be missing a few vital components, making it an un feasible option. By having your own software developed, every tiny detail and feature that you want to have can be included with it.

You will also have the benefit of being involved in the various stages of development. If you want the user interface to work in a certain way, you’ll be able to give your insights and thoughts of the layout and design to the software developers so they can build what you have in your mind.

With off the shelf software, you usually aren’t able to make any changes to the user interface, and you may find that some aspects of it are difficult to use. With bespoke software, you can have the interface exactly as you want.

Another benefit of bespoke software is that once it has been developed, it is yours to use as you want. If you run a large multinational company, then you are going to be able to install and use that software on all the computers in your various offices around the world.

With off the shelf software, you’d need to purchase individual licenses for each user or computer you wish to work from. You could actually be saving a great deal of money in the long purely by saving on the individual licenses off the shelf software requires.

Some final thoughts

Having a piece of bespoke software developed for your business is a big decision, and there are a number of pros and cons, but in most cases, it is usually the only viable option as most of the off the shelf software usually doesn’t contain all of the features and functionality that a specific business may require.

Off the shelf is a good option for a smaller business, or one that is just starting out, but for companies that have been in operation for many years, and know exactly what they need to run their business properly, going with a bespoke software solution is going to be the best option.


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