Standard or customizable or custom-made – how to decide?
Finding a Software Solution that aligns with your Business
Data is the heart of a business, and software is its mind. Good software cannot only enhance productivity by offering better and simple solutions to complex problems, but it can also cut costs and decrease delivery time. However, figuring out the type of software – an off the shelf product, a customizable software, or a custom solution – can be tricky.
Determining this requires, first, an analysis of your business problem and the understanding of your specific needs. During this process, it can be worthwhile questioning what would be a minimum requirement and what is on the luxury side of your need. Figuring out the most effective software for your requirements can save you tons of money.
Let’s get an overview of the choices before we move on to understand them in detail:
- A Standard Software: Also called off the shelf software, this mostly budget-friendly software type provides solutions to standardized problems. They are usually tested and trusted by the masses as they offer effective solutions to generalized problems.
- A Customizable Software: If specific features can be added to an off the shelf product, it is known as a customizable product. Much standard software comes with options that allow the integration of additional requirements into the base software. However, customization may require expert assistance.
- A Custom Software: When a company requires facilitation for some kind of innovation or a solution to a unique business problem, it chooses custom made software. Many a time, custom software is a more cost effective solution than an inexpensive standard software which solves only a part of complex challenges.
So, the question arises, which is a preferable choice for your company? Let’s take a look at the benefits of each type of software solution to determine whether you need a standard solution, a customizable product, or custom software.
Benefits of Standard Software:
Easy Availability: In case you require to solve a problem that many other companies are facing as well, you will easily find an out of the box software available in the market to help you with it. These are usually available easily and do not need extra assistance, costs, or technical expertise to deploy. This makes their availability beneficial to the user anytime they want to start using the software, without waiting for extra set up time.
Budget-Friendly: Standard software come at budget-friendly rates. Not just that, because of the easy installation package, one usually does not require additional costs for setting up the software and expert knowledge is not necessary. The software comes with a base price that has all the important features, with pay per use, cost-effective yearly subscriptions or low price upgrades available.
Ready to Use: The software comes with an easy to use interface. As the deployment time is less and the software can be used by anyone not having proper technical knowledge as well, they make for the right choice especially to handle standardized problems. As little expertise is required, anyone can start using the software with just a few guidelines.
When to go for Standard Software:
An off the shelf software has all the features required to handle standardized problems and this is a great choice for small companies. Mostly, this software comes with many extra features helping you in expanding your goals or aligning your needs in the future without investing in additional software. As a standard software is easy to use and requires no additional cost on deployment or training, the licensing fee makes it worthwhile to invest in a solution that is tested and trusted by many. Additional plugins or upgrades may be installed for extra functionality.
Here we can understand that whereas a standard software is great to use for general problems, it may not be a choice when you are looking for a solution to a more unique problem. So, let’s check out if a customizable software can do that for your company.
Benefits of Customizable Software:
Cost Effective: Customizable software can easily be facilitated to solve a company-specific problem. The costs that add up to provide the right solution are not as high as buying a standard software and upgrading it. The problem with the latter, as we have already established, is that some upgrades or plugins that you require may not be available or compatible with the base software. Therefore, choosing a customizable software and working it up to your needs is much more cost effective.
Modifications: Customizable software delivers a standard for standard processes. But it also comes with features that allow modification according to the user’s needs – like easy workflows, corporate data integration or specific reports. It usually takes moderate expertise to customize such a product in order to start using it.
Better Upgrades: One of the attractive advantages of using customizable software is that the manufacturer continuously adds features. That means, by upgrading you can easily get the latest technology standards and still keep your customized parts.
When to go for Customizable Software
Although the setup time of customizable software, depending upon how much and what kind of customization is required, is more than that of standard software, once it is ready it serves as a great choice for both small and big companies that have an in-house IT team. A customizable software solution can be explored if the company is looking for two-fold benefits of – firstly, performance optimization, and secondly, low-cost investment for the long term. Even if an in-house technical team is not available for customization and training purposes, it can be easily outsourced. Over time, new plugins and upgrades can help reduce the need for customization as well, saving both time and money.
However, sometimes even customization will not meet diverse or specific needs of an organization. Let’s find out the advantages of choosing a custom solution in that case.
Benefits of Custom Software:
Adaptation to workflows: Most companies choose a custom solution as it easily integrates with the internal workflows. Every company has its own practices and custom software is just the right solution for better adaptation of reports, integrating enterprise data, and facilitating conversions for employees in a frictionless manner.
Scalability: Standard software that seems to perfectly fit your needs today may not always scale to the changes that come tomorrow as a result of your organization’s growth. It also gives you a headstart to develop unique and innovative ideas and new solutions.
More Productivity: With enhanced integration of workflows and internal data, custom software offers an effective solution and is aimed at enhancing productivity. The interface offers features most aligned to provide solutions to focused problems, and therefore, the user is not distracted by extra customization or options available.
When to go for Custom Software
If you don’t want to compromise when it comes to business operations then you should go for a custom solution. Although there is a lot of high-quality ready-made software available, a custom one will fit seamlessly into your organization.
Building a custom software demands more time and budget. Small companies usually do not have the budgets and the time to invest for weeks (or months) in development and training process. Big companies that love to innovate and lead often go for custom made software solutions that are unique to their problem-solving methods. They invest reasonable time to make sure that the software is built as per their requirements. Although, they are costlier, in the long term they turn out to be cost-effective.
Reaching a Solution:
The best way to figure out an optimal solution for your company is by starting to understand the challenges, evaluate vendors, and analyze what aligns with your company goals. Discussing with the service provider about your requirements will also get you some great advice. However, if you think both standard and customizable software will fail to provide a rewarding solution move forward to breaking the shell and let the innovation splurge out with new and unique technology.