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Wednesday, 19 October 2016 10:50

Off-the-Shelf Software Vs. Customized Software

                                 

     Are you torn in between off-the-shelf software and customized software? Maybe, confused which of which is the best investment for your business? or Perhaps, what would be the wisest choice in simplifying and automating your business processes? Well, these are just some of the nerve-wracking questions that a business owner may come across with.

Nowadays, growing companies are moving a step forward to conquer far more greater heights in terms of expansion and reaching a wider market sector. This initiative is evident by using aggressive market strategies to equalize the playing field between modern competitors. Hence, given such need to improve and strengthen business operations, the use of IT systems has been the trend for addressing business needs and meeting customer demands and expectations.

Undeniably, the use of software system is prevalent in the market due to its promising and effective results. Thus, how can you necessarily know what is the best way to go for your business? Should you have an off-the-shelf “readymade” software (a kind of software that is already made for a specific need HR, Accounting etc.) or a customized or “tailored” one software to match your needs (a kind software specifically designed for you, to target your business needs)?

In this dilemma, we can look at 5 different pointers to help you in making the decision.

  • Scalability & Scoping

           Off-the-Shelf software are normally limited in terms of scoping and targeting business needs in the long run. For instance, you already have an Accounting Software or a SAP System to do everything for your business, but since it’s a “readymade” type of software, you can’t easily adjust it. It may take a lot of time and effort to build another system under such. Unlike customized software the scalability and use of the software is broader. The software will adjust to your needs and it can even accommodate business growth issues and needs in the long run. Off-the-shelf software features are somehow generic and limited in terms of performance and scope.

  • System Integration & Competitive Advantage

            In terms of this criteria, off-the-shelf software are normally available in the market. Thus, most of its content and features are not editable. Just like “Microsoft Word” you can’t easily change its features if you want it to have a “PowerPoint” like, presentation within it. Just like in SAP, you cannot just integrate a feature or add additional elements on your own. It is possible but it will take a lot of time, cost and effort. Unlike, customized software most of its items are editable and dependent on the set of requirements provided by the company so the reports, information and files can be updated and be changed over time. It is anchored on what the company wants.

In terms of competitive advantage, if you want to drive away from what’s already used by a lot of companies, the best way to go is the “customized software” wherein you are flexible to make the system/software work in line with your business goals. More likely, it will deliver more appropriate results since it is rooted on your needs.

  • Saving More Time and Money

              If we are going to weigh both kinds of software, it is clear that each one is an investment for a business. Off-the-Shelf software are normally paid because of its license which may keep on increasing overtime. One good example is SAP software wherein you need to pay millions just  to have it or a part of it. Unlike customized software, the cost is also high in the beginning but its being “future-proof” can justify the cost. Why? It is because 90-100%, this type of software can handle even your future business needs. Since it is customized, any business can ensure that the software is a perfect fit for their needs. It also helps to save time because even the owner can customize and edit the software system if they want. After production, the customized software and the codes used will be given to the company to whom it is designed for. They have the exclusive right for the ownership of the software.

  • Security

       One of the most alarming issues of today is security. Protection from business threats and hacking is always a priority even in software and systems. Thus, it is a must that if you will consider off-the shelf- software, please make sure that it is licensed. Most of the cheaper version of software available in the market seemed to have predictable features and content that even hackers are already familiar with. SAP and other higher priced software are much more reliable in terms of security. But if you want a unique and mutually exclusive software and content just for you, customized software is the best way to go.

  • Support and Maintenance

As time goes by, customized software is much more advantageous to use for its maintenance cost is decreasing. Once you already have it, customized software are easy to manage and maintain. Unlike, off-the shelf software sometimes you have to renew your license or what not. Some off-the-shelf software are also easy to use and install but may be hard to maintain for its limited features, add-ons might require an additional cost.

These are just some of the pointers that can help you to decide which will work best for you and your interests. If you are having a hard time to decide, which of which, you can also compromise in between.

Some IT companies can create a software system that contains both. It is somehow a mixture of commercial/readymade software which are modified to make it fit for the requirements of a company. What is important is to choose the right people to who will develop the software. I suggest that you can read our previous blog about choosing a good and reputable software company.

At the end of the day it is normally the prerogative of the business owner if they want to have an off-the-shelf software or a customized one. But in terms of profitability and future use, customized software would be a wise investment especially for growing companies or SMEs who might have different and changing needs in the long run. Off-the-shelf software is also good but may have limited features and recommended for multinational companies.

 

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Published in Software Development

 

Most of us would think that software applications development is the actual programming of an application, and that the programming involves programmers that are slaving away on their keyboards doing codes and codes of stuff and compiling them to make an application. While this is true, few people or users are quite aware that prior to these programmers doing the codes, a systems analysis and design is very critical. Here are the following reasons:

A. A systems analysis process involves studying the actual business processes, understand where data is coming from, how it should be processed and what results are required.

B. This is to find the bottlenecks in data or in processing that results in performance degradation of an application software.

C. To sub-divide a more complex application system so that it can easily be managed.

One of the major objectives of systems analysis is to find answers for each business process so that efficiency of a software application can be achieved. What is being done? How is it being done? Who is doing it? Why are they doing it? When is it being done and how can it be improved? These are the questions that are often answered by systems analysts, and is more of a thinking process and involves creativity for the systems analyst. The goal is that it attempts to product a new efficient system that satisfies the current needs of the users and has vision for future growth within the organization. After an analysis process, then a systems design should be made.

Systems Design Process

Based on user requirements and the results of the analysis of the existing application or systems, a new system must be designed. This is the most crucial phase in the development of a system or an application because, any weak links in the design are carried over into the actual programming process and results may not be that beneficial to an organization if the software or application that was developed does not match perfectly with the needs of the organization. This is also where costs of implementing new features or functionalities and the benefits of these new functionalities are estimated. Likewise, the result of the systems design are passed on to the developers who develop the system. If the output of the systems design are incompatible with the needs of the organization, then the software or systems that are developed will be wasted, not to mention the resources that are incurred in the development of the system.

So in all cases, the developers or the programmers would not be just the core people in software development, everyone, from the business analysts, to the systems analysts, to the software testers, even the documentations analysts, not to mention the programmers themselves form part of the critical core in the process of systems development.

 

Published in Software Development

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