Custom vs off the shelf software development

custom software development

Written by vince_vnited

December 6, 2022

Uncertainty urges companies of all scales to rethink their approaches to business development. Digital transformation is no longer a luxury but rather a need for those aiming to maintain their competitive edge. As a result, IDC analysts discovered that direct digital transformation investments accelerate to 16.5% CAGR 2022-2024, and this figure is estimated to reach 55% of all ICT investments by the end of 2024. 

However, not all implemented digital transformation initiatives succeed. According to McKinsey, those operating as “top economic performers” are much more likely than their peers to report value from these efforts. The analysts uncovered three things top performers were doing differently, and one of them was developing proprietary assets instead of relying on off-the-shelf ones. 

Let’s learn why custom software development drives more value for business compared to ready-made solutions. As an experienced outsourcing agency, we at Afocus have evaluated both approaches across five factors:

1. Flexibility

Whether you are building a website, an app, or a CRM, it will eventually evolve as your business does. While off-the-shelf solutions may offer several packages depending on your tech appetite, not all of them are versatile. This means there will be no scalability opportunities without switching to another digital product, which translates into employee onboarding and integration costs. If your off-the-shelf app allows you to increase the workload, it may still fail to provide all the required functionality or ensure stability at peak times. 

Custom solutions are built from scratch, meaning that you can anticipate future growth and prepare your tech in advance to minimize costs in the future. This eliminates technological barriers to your development and makes digital tools your catalyzers into the world of big business, not barriers. 

2. Functionality

This is the ultimate reason why you should go custom. Despite the number of features off-the-shelf software offers, you may still be unsatisfied. For example, a famous Salesforce CRM, Customer 360, encompasses sales, marketing, commerce, and service processes. Yet, it’s still insufficient for niche companies such as investment sales businesses. At the same time, small organizations won’t need the majority of features, while enterprises might lack some. 

With custom software development, you build what you need: meaning that budget and time may become the only barriers to satisfying your tech appetite. You won’t need to adjust your processes to standardized workflows, sacrifice automation opportunities, or onboard your employees to learn complex and inefficient management techniques. 

3. Data Ownership

With data being among the most crucial business assets, can you entrust your customers’ private data to a third-party platform? According to recent IBM findings, almost 20% of data breaches occurred due to compromises on the third-party business partner side. Of course, you can entrust your data to giants like Microsoft, who raised $4 billion on security solutions in 2021 alone. Yet, this didn’t help to prevent a 65,000 entity data leakage in 2022. The main point here – any organization, big or small, may become a victim. 

The advantage of custom software development over off-the-shelf solutions is that you decide the amount of security you need. While all the responsibility falls on you, custom security initiatives tailored to your business specifics may be less vulnerable than mainstream ones.

4. Cost

Low-code solutions are much cheaper than custom ones, especially at the initial stages. Typically, you pay a monthly subscription per user. Custom development costs vary depending on the complexity of the future digital product. However, it may be a winning approach in the long term. 

Suppose a ready-made solution offers basic functionality, which was sufficient at the startup stage. As your business evolves, so do your tech needs. You switch to a more expensive plan but use only three out of twenty new features (take Zoho CRM as an example). So, you significantly overpay. Custom software embeds only the features you need. 

5. Time

Obviously, off-the-shore solutions are known for their short time-to-market. All you need to do is:

  • Install software
  • Set it up as necessary (integrations, processes, user accounts)

Custom software implies not only installation and onboarding phases but also a development one, which is usually the longest. Depending on your project scope, it may take from 2-3 months up to 12-18 months. 

Custom Software Development as a Business Driver

Although higher initial costs and longer turnaround times are two major custom software limitations, eventually, all the sacrifices pay off. It’s more reasonable to invest more in a quality solution that will drive desired business outcomes (as top digital transformation performers admit) rather than save and get no, or mediocre results. If you wish to go custom, let our experienced team support you along the way. Afocus is an internationally experienced team of developers who can assist you at any stage, from idea validation to development, QA, and maintenance. 

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