Bespoke Software vs Off-The-Shelf

When it comes to choosing software for your organisation there are many different avenues you can take. You could stick with what you already have. You could try not using software at all (although we think you might find that difficult!) Or you could start exploring the possibilities of a new software package and how it could benefit your organisation. When you start to look at new software is when the real choice starts to come into play: do you buy something off-the-shelf and just go with what it does or do you cater to your needs and embark on a bespoke software development project?

What Does Off-The-Shelf Mean?

The first thing you need to consider is what the difference is between your two choices. The term ‘off-the-shelf- could be applied to a lot of the software packages you use every day. Office 365, Salesforce and iTunes are all considered off-the-shelf because you buy them, or download them for free in the case of iTunes, and use them in the same way that everyone else uses them. You can’t add features to them just because you think it would be useful. For example, wouldn’t it be useful (or not) if you could make it so that iTunes will repeat a song dependent upon how often you skip it and delete it automatically for you if you had skipped it 20 continuous times? You can’t add that feature to iTunes because it’s off-the shelf.

Advantages of Off-The-Shelf Software

Just because off-the-shelf can’t be customised to what you want it to do doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t explore it as an option. Off-the-shelf software is mass produced and therefore is useful to a large amount of people or businesses. It really depends on how you plan to use and rely on the software that you are considering.

With off-the-shelf software, you can usually have a trial run for 30 days to have a play with it and see if it would be useful to your business and if it has the features you need. If you choose to invest in off-the-shelf-software you will also often have regular updates to patch any issues and add new features, even if they’re features that you may not necessarily want.

It’s also easy to get help if you’re not sure with something when it comes to off-the-shelf software. You can always call the company that produces it, send a query in or check their FAQs. The other option, of course, is that you can just Google it and see if anyone has posted the answer online.

Disadvantages of Off-The-Shelf Software

The problem with off-the shelf software is that it can become quite limiting to you the more you begin to rely on it. If the software becomes a central point for your business operations but it doesn’t do something that you desperately need it to then you can get a bit stuck. If you are using an off-the-shelf CRM and you need to be able to link it with the services you provide or project documents and the system doesn’t enable that then you just won’t be able to. You then end up having to have a separate system for one part of the business that doesn’t integrate with what you already have or you end up not having an efficient way of doing things, costing your business money.

What is a Bespoke Software Package?

While ACUTEC obviously provide off-the-shelf software as well like Office 365, bespoke software development is something that we specialise in as part of our services. Bespoke software development is where you build the software package you need based off your own specific needs. For example, if you need your CRM to link photographs of your work to a specific job number in your system you would be able to specify that in the brief for your bespoke software development. With this kind of software, you can sit down with your team and really think about what you could use to help you to achieve more every day. Would an extra button to get you to a specific screen quickly help you? Not a problem. Bespoke software is exactly what it says on the tin: bespoke to your needs.

Disadvantages of Bespoke Software

As mentioned previously, an advantage of off-the-shelf software is it’s quite easy to get an answer to a question. If you don’t know how to do something you can quickly Google it or find it in an FAQ. However, if you continue to maintain the relationship you have with your development partner then this isn’t really an issue with bespoke software. If you get stuck on how to do something you can just call them and ask someone you know for some help.

Advantages of Bespoke Software

The real advantage of using bespoke software in your business is that it removes any limits in how you operate. You don’t need to think that you won’t be able to put a process in place because the system you have isn’t capable of it. Your development project only finishes when you want it to. If you want to add a new feature to it because you have added a new process or you have expanded an area of the business then you can quite easily work with your software development partner to add new features that are needed. You gain a flexibility in your business that you just wouldn’t have if you had bought an off-the-shelf package.

If you are interested in creating your own bespoke software package for your business then please do call ACUTEC on 01675 469020 and we will help you to get your business operating in the way that you really want it to.

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