Custom vs Packaged Software: Is It Actually Worth the Cost?
When making an app, you must know if you want (and can afford) Chicago custom software development or should go with packaged software instead. This matter presents a tough challenge for businesses, but expert opinion regarding the best use cases for each is clear.
This guide helps you assess which type is more cost-effective for your business, including:
- Differentiating between custom and packaged software
- Weighing the many pros and cons of each type of software
There’s a lot to discuss, so get ready to take notes.
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Comparing Custom and Packaged Software Pros and Cons
Among the future software development trends to look for is the production of custom software. It often has better utility in a specific situation than commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) or packaged software. For example, because it is tailor-made for your use, the software functions exactly as intended.
On the other hand, packaged software is intended for widespread commercial use, so it focuses on what the general public wants or needs in an application. Of course, the developers can modify or rearrange features as they wish, but that is neither here nor there for this specific conversation.
To make this discussion easier, let us clear up some points that are undoubtedly crossing your mind just based on the terminology and basic descriptions you read. First, custom software is not always the better choice. Second, packaged software does not necessarily equal generic or white label.
Custom software refers to the bespoke solutions an organization requests for private internal use. It is made to the user's specifications and can be modified accordingly. Packaged software refers to software sold by developers for many individuals or corporations to use; therefore, you use it as is.
Operating systems such as Windows, macOS, and Linux are excellent examples of widely-used packaged software. Downloadable applications such as Slack, Skype, and Zoom are also available. Below are the pros and cons of custom and packaged software in more detail for your review.
Creating Custom Software for Compatibility
As mentioned, custom software is usually for private use because the developers make it to fit a client’s specific requirements. For example, a hospital in Chicago, where healthcare is among the fastest-growing industries, might want custom HIPAA-compliant data management software for security.
Below are three advantages of custom software that benefit your business or organization:
1. A developer creates custom software exclusively for your organization, which perfectly fits your business needs. It can have features that top COTS software sorely lacks.
2. A Chicago custom software development agency can modify its previous works to patch any vulnerabilities or improve usability, making it more flexible than COTS software.
3. Custom software can cost less in the long term because you already own the software. Additional spending goes towards maintenance, future update, or modification costs.
An ambitious project like that (developing custom software) has numerous clear advantages and disadvantages, affecting whether the cost is worth it. Most of these depend on how well you and your developer plan your software and the necessary changes.
Here are three disadvantages of custom software that harm your business or organization:
1. You need a much larger upfront investment to develop custom software than paying for subscriptions, even with a Chicago custom software development team doing the work.
2. Quality varies among developers, and it can complicate matters if you decide to switch developers halfway through the project or even to do upkeep for your software later on.
3. Successful deployment and scaling of custom software is significantly slower because it has to go through several rounds of trial and error before employees can use it.
Buying Packaged Software for Quick Launch
While the demand for software developers is high despite recent layoffs, packaged software is an equally viable option for businesses. It dramatically speeds up employee adoption and enables smooth integration, so you can expect fewer interruptions in your daily operations.
Below are three advantages of packaged software that benefit your business or organization:
1. Packaged software is ready to install and integrate into workflow and usually comes with resources for guidance and support from the developer. Adoption and scaling are easy.
2. Licenses or subscriptions cost less in the short term and often come with appreciable business or corporate use rates. You can completely control spending in this regard.
3. Many packaged software connect or integrate naturally, so compatibility is seldom an issue. Nearly all existing productivity software have a Windows version.
Like custom software, COTS products are also not purely beneficial. You have many considerations to ponder when you lean toward COTS. For instance, you cannot simply collect more packaged software in place of a cohesive one-stop-shop software solution.
Here are three disadvantages of packaged software that harm your business or organization:
1. Piling COTS is not a solution, especially considering that most focus on a single concern (e.g., Zoom is for communication). More powerful custom solutions are also available.
2. The cost of recurring subscriptions for multiple packaged software adds up faster than you might think. Consider what you need first before deciding which solution works best.
3. Depending on too much packaged software at once can cause a disconnect within your workflow as opposed to using a customized solution that houses everything you need with smoothly linked connections for better workflow.
Custom and packaged software each have merits and demerits for businesses in need. For instance, choosing COTS when first starting out is often best, but you must reevaluate solutions as your business develops. COTS costs less and is easier to integrate since you have fewer concerns.
On the other hand, any Chicago custom software development agency can tell you bespoke solutions carry benefits such as better security and flexibility than packaged software. You can mix both (which is ideal) because too much of either can quickly ramp up your expenses.
Approach this issue with practicality in mind to determine whether the cost is worth it.
Need help deciding what to do with your custom software idea? Contact Digital Authority Partners to learn how we can help.
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