Custom Software vs Off the Shelf

When purchasing software there are several areas for consideration. A good starting point is to establish whether you need an off the shelf solution or custom developed software.

When purchasing new software for your business there are several areas of consideration. A good starting point is to establish whether you want to purchase an off the shelf solution or opt for a custom-developed software solution.

There are several benefits for each so first let’s take a look at why you may select an off the shelf solution.

Quick Implementation Time

Off the shelf solutions often have a quicker implementation time as the product is already developed and simply needs to be purchased and installed. If the software is required urgently this may be a better option, as it can be up and running in a relatively short period of time.

Reduced Costs

Off the shelf may be the slighter cheaper option, this is because the development costs are covered by all of the end-users rather than just one client.

Business Requirements

Depending on the requirements of the software, an off the shelf product may work. If it is something fairly straightforward or a routine business task, then it is likely that there will already be a product on the market that will suit your needs.

Community Help

As there is a community of users, you can often find help and support in forums that can instantly resolve any issues you may encounter.

Now let’s look at when a custom developed solution may be more suitable.

Improved Integrations

If you are already using several systems and want to continue to use these then a custom solution may be the better option. Often it is easier to achieve seamless integrations with a custom solution as the required integrations are known and included as part of the development project. Although off the shelf products may offer integrations these are often limited.

Features Flexibility  

With a custom solution, you will have flexibility in terms of the feature and functionality that is required. These will be scoped at the beginning of the project, and regular communication throughout ensures that the solution is progressing as you expected. The solution will only include the features you need and therefore you will not be left with unused functionality as may be experienced with an off the shelf product.

More Frequent Upgrades

Custom software can be upgraded, and features added as required once it is being used within your business. Off the shelf products will also have updates, but these may not be as frequent, and you will not have control over what features and functionality are improved.


Although you may pay an additional fee, most software companies will offer a training session with your employees, this will can be tailored to features that your employees will be using. As the solution has been designed based on how your business already works, it should be intuitive for your employees to use and therefore it will be relatively straightforward to introduce the new software.


With a bespoke solution, you will often receive a higher level of support. Any issues and bugs should be resolved quickly, unlike an off the shelf product where you may have to wait until their next scheduled update for the problem to be resolved.


If your business is growing, you will want a solution that can grow as your business does. Custom software offers this opportunity as new features and/or integrations can be added as required. 

Unique Requirements

Custom software can be developed to incorporate unique business requirements or can automate certain areas that would not be achieved with an off the shelf solution.

 Considering a custom project? Drop us a message or give us a call on 028 9018 3250 to chat about how we could help. 

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