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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 companies these days would claim that they are “reputable” enough to handle your software development needs. But what does the term reputable mean?

The word reputable is variable. The term reputable comes from the root word “reputation”, which means, a belief that someone or something has that particular habit or characteristic. In all honest terms, every company, institution or individual have their own reputation. An individual may be reputed to as “industrious or hardworking” even though no one has ever worked with that individual. A company may be reputed as “dynamic or customer-centric”, even though no one has ever engaged this company into business.

In the world of software development, reputation varies. Some companies are reputed to be “expensive” or “delivers high quality outputs.” But would these be enough for small to medium enterprises? It would depend on how these companies view as such, but let us discuss here the characteristics of a “good-reputationed” software development company.

  1. A Good Software Company Must Have An Extensive Record of Delivered Solutions

            It would be easy to create an off-the-shelf timekeeping system and it would be easy to create an off-the-shelf accounting system, but timekeeping and accounting are just slices off the pie in a business environment. What sets good software development companies apart are its extensive experience in delivering solutions for various industries, supporting various business processes. It should not be limited in delivering specific off-the-shelf solutions for the software development processes require extensive experience in the areas of all business aspects.

  1. A Good Software Company Must First Listen, and listen and listen, and listen.

Each business has its own specific process that sets it apart from its competition. If a software company does not listen to what you specifically need then how can they deliver what you need? “I need this automated solution, but I really do not have that much money to pay for it.”

 Software development companies who hear these lines go out as soon as they can. But good software companies would try to work out a solution with you. Flexible payment terms? It can always be done, for the good of the client. Of course, business is business, but would the clients deserve more? 

  1. A Good Software Company Focus On Quality

Some software companies go in, install, configure and leave, leaving the clients hanging. A good software company listens, listens even more, understands your business, understands your problems, installs, configures and stays with you until such time that you are running perfectly. Of course, it comes with a bit of cost, but quality and perfection always comes with costs.

  1. A Good Software Company Supports

 Some software companies, again, go in, install, configure and leave. After sometime, your business processes requires change and no one knows on how the software installed can fit into the business process. Some companies throw the software to the garbage, but good companies make sure that they are there to make the software adjust to your business. This makes sure that good return of investments are realized by the client.

  1. Good Software Companies See the Big Picture

Need to link your existing systems to another systems in the future? Some companies do not realize that their deliverables may require interface to new or existing systems in the future leaving a thick wall on their software products so that it can’t be linked to other systems or software in the future.

Need to put up that system into the Internet? Some companies would just say, they cannot, but good companies have designed their products so that it can support everything.

  1. Lastly, Good software companies are customer-centric and deliver quality results. 

Who would want to work with companies who do not listen to what their customers need and just shove down their products to the throat of their clients so that they can make the sale, get paid and go? Again, good software companies exist because they value what their customers need, not just on the revenues that they are about to make. Sudden adjustments into the software? Good software companies knows that. It would be ok to make adjustments, just as long as the software fits into the users requirements. Good software companies work closely with the clients and communicate well so that even the smallest detail of issues can be ironed out.

Have you experienced a software that you installed in your smart phone that after installation, the phone does not work as normal as before? Then after installing, you call up their support, but no one can help you? It’s quality. Good software companies ensure that their products would work and commits that these products can still be improved, making them work better.

These characteristics are vital. It’s not just about reputation. Sure, good software companies may charge higher, but then again, quality may come at a higher price and that higher price would be going back to your business in the future. Cheaper companies may charge low, but would be leaving you as soon as they are paid leaving their customers hanging and may decide just not to use the software, throwing investments to the bin. Good software companies are there to support you in your every little need, and are there to support you in your pain and victories.

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Published in Software Development

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