At what point does a custom software solution make sense for your business? As businesses grow and work to scale at a rapid pace, optimizing operations with custom software is imperative. When it comes to custom software, however, many businesses are left up to deciding whether they should choose an out-of-the-box solution or use custom code to solve their needs. There are pros and cons to each solution, and we'll explore the benefits in this article.
When it comes to out-of-the-box software, you're likely thinking of products such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics 365, and Oracle ERP Cloud. These solutions offer a wide range of functionality that can address the needs of many businesses. The main benefit of using an out-of-the-box solution is that implementation time is typically shorter than with custom software. Additionally, these solutions are updated regularly with new features so you don't have to worry about upgrading your system yourself.
One downside to out-of-the-box software is that it may not be completely tailored to your specific business needs. You may need to do some customizations or work with a partner to get the most out of the software. Additionally, the cost of out-of-the-box software can be expensive, especially if you need to add on customizations or modules.
Higher cost for customizations and modules
Limited packages available for purchase (so you end up paying for a lot of features you may not even use)
Pay structure is often expensive and based on the number of locations and users in the system
Migrating to a different or new system can be extremely challenging, depending on the system
Despite some of the challenges that exist with ready-made software, there are some positive aspects of using such platforms that we can't ignore.
The main benefit of using an out-of-the-box solution is that implementation time is typically shorter than with custom software. This is because the bulk of the work has already been done for you and all you have to do is configure it to your needs. Additionally, many out-of-the-box solutions are cloud-based so there's no need for you to worry about installing and maintaining software on your own servers.
Another big plus for out-of-the-box software is that these platforms are updated regularly with new features. Unlike custom code, which can take months (or even years) to implement a single update, most out-of-the-box solutions release updates every quarter or two. This can be a great thing, assuming that the updates are related to your specific business operations.
A big selling point for out-of-the-box software is that partnerships and integrations are readily available. If you need to connect your accounting software with your CRM, for example, it's likely that there's an integration available for one or both of those platforms. This can save you a lot of time and hassle in trying to develop custom integrations yourself.
Custom software is custom-built to your specific business needs. For many businesses, custom code offers the best solution for their operations because it can provide a lot of flexibility and tailoring that out-of-the-box solutions lack.
The main benefit of custom software is that you have complete control over how it's built. You know exactly what functionality you need so there's no guesswork on whether or not an off-the-shelf platform would be able to address those needs. Depending on which custom development company builds your custom software, they may even build custom integrations with other systems (such as sales automation) so that everything works seamlessly together without requiring other software systems.
On the downside, however, custom software can be quite expensive to develop in the beginning because there is most certainly a lot of up-front work required to scope out features, design, and code your system. There are also many costs involved in hosting and supporting your custom software ongoing. Still, depending on the size of your company, these costs are quite often very minimal compared to the pre-built solutions that charge per location and user.
One of the biggest benefits to custom software is that you have a lot more flexibility and customization opportunities. With custom code, anything is possible. You can design and build the system exactly how you want it and make changes as needed down the road. This kind of flexibility means that you cut down on extra costs for unused features you may be paying for on your current software, and you can create features that might not exist anywhere else, allowing you to simplify and enhance business operations like never before.
Another big plus for custom software is that integrations are typically much easier to set up than they are with out-of-the-box solutions. This is because custom software is built specifically for your business and therefore integrates well with other systems that your company may use. Additionally, custom software is often built using open standards, making it easy for other systems to communicate with it.
One of the best things about custom software is that you actually own it. Unlike out-of-the-box solutions, which are usually owned by the platform provider, custom software is built for and belongs to your company. This means that you can do whatever you want with it - including selling it with your company if you ever wanted to. A great benefit of owning the software is that it leaves the door open to license it to other businesses as an added revenue stream. This can be a great way to offset some of the development costs and make your custom software pay for itself.
Custom software is often more affordable in the long run than out-of-the-box solutions. This is because you only pay for the features that you need, and there are no additional costs associated with using the software (such as per-user fees, location fees, or feature activation fees). The main cost of custom software is upfront development which can be expensive depending on the size and complexity of your system. However, over time this cost typically pays off handsomely compared to out-of-the-box platforms that continually increase their prices as your company grows.
Looking to build a custom software solution for your growing company? We'd love to help! Additionally, we can help support off-the-shelf software and build custom integrations for you as needed. Check out our projects and reach out to get started!
Johanna F. Still - Jan 17, 2022
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