Custom Software Development: Yea or Nay for Businesses?

Alka Singh
Alka Singh, Technical Writer and Content Strategist at OnGraph Technologies Private Limited
Published on Jul 04, 2019 in Custom Software Developers Resources
Custom Software Development: Yea or Nay for Businesses?

These days, digital transformation is a paramount concern for businesses. The new generation of mobile, cloud and internet technologies are enabling businesses to transform digitally. McKinsey, in one of its reports, shared, "The number of top 100 product and service companies that are software dependent has doubled, to nearly 40 percent, over the last 20 years."

In today's time, the software is imperative to shape new products and services. Digital technologies are just simplifying operations. These are also enabling enterprises to embrace new revenue streams. These technologies are just evolving and improving day by day week by week and year by year. As a result of it, businesses have many options at disposal to go for digital solutions. Today, companies have multiple choices of ready-to-deploy and off the shelf digital tools provided by several players in the market like Oracle.

But is investing in ready-to-deploy or off-the-shelf solutions help a business gain competitive value?

According to Forbes, "Software will make or break your organization, and with the growth in mobile and B2B e-commerce, sometimes custom is the only option to provide you with the flexibility you need to gain a competitive advantage."

Businesses that diminish the strategic merit of quality software put their product or service quality at great competitive risk. This risk requires some companies to look beyond "off-the-shelf" software solutions - which can successfully address a range of universal strategic issues - and invest in custom solutions that solve problems and drive competitive value unique to those companies.

What Is Custom Software?

Custom software is a business solution that is specially developed for a company's particular use-cases. It could be for customers as well as for the use of the staff. As every company in every sector try to be unique from the competitors, CTOs and CIOs of companies continually focus with IT specialist to adapt to the concerns of the existing business processes or create entirely new ones.

What Is Off-the-shelf Software?

Off-the-shelf software is ready-made solutions. These are commercially available business solutions for the general public. A company can buy or subscribe the license to the software in business operations for a defined period. Although these solutions are designed to be implemented easily into existing systems, it comes with a limited number of features or functionality. Some companies through offer customization but that too has its own limitations.

Buy or Build?

When to Buy

  1. Lower up-front cost: Off-the-shelf or ready-made software typically considered best for companies like start-ups as you don't have to pay for the development cost. You pay to use the system only for a specific period. Even the genetic software's features and functions help you focus on other business areas like customer engagement, initially.
  2. Contains many features, often more than you need: Ready to use software generally target a broader audience, therefore comes with a bunch of features. Chances are you may even not need some features or functionalities provided with the off-the-shelf solutions.
  3. Support is often included: With readymade software, you usually get maintenance support and troubleshooting services. However, it can be for a specific period like one or three months or can be for the period you have the license, depending upon the T&C.
  4. Upgrades may be provided for free or at a reduced cost: As off-the-shelf software is for wider user-base, with time required updates and additional features are produced to meet the demands. You often get the upgrade free under your monthly or annual licensing fees.
  5. If it's software-as-a-service (SaaS), there is no hardware or software to install: You don't need to invest to deploy a server set-up within the premise. SaaS solutions are easy to use without worrying about server, design, development, and QA as the vendor manages all things.
Custom Software Development: Yea or Nay for Businesses?

When to Build

  1. When the team's productivity is crucial: If you are into a business where multiple products or applications are essentials to perform several tasks, custom software should be your calling! The custom solution combines all needed functionality in just one tool and enables the staff to work collaboratively, keep all business data organized, and ensure productivity.
  2. To improve efficiency and support automation: Automation is the future, as engaging resources on mundane jobs take up considerable time on a daily basis. To achieve automation and save the efforts of your employees, custom software development is the option. All the requirements of employees and the vision of the businesses can be tuned together in a custom solution.
  3. To achieve higher Scalability: If you already have a legacy software at disposal, but the existing one doesn't support the current requirements since the business is scaling, you must look for custom software development solutions. The services also helpful in legacy modernization and help you make most out of processes and operations.
  4. A One-Time Investment: Contrary to off-the-shelf solutions where monthly or annual licensing fees are being paid to continue the access, custom software is a one-time investment. On the other hand, it allows extending the scope as the demand strikes, which is not possible to achieve with off-the-shelf solutions.
  5. For security and compliances: Threat for data has always been a concern for companies, especially when it is being shared within or outside of the business premises. Following certain security standards and compliances is significant when an off-the-shelf solution is at disposal. On the other hand, custom software is built, keeping in view your specific requirements, thus adopt defined security standards and compliances.

Still Need More Clearance?

As digital transformation drives competitive value, custom software helps forward-looking companies significantly. Still, off-the-shelf solutions can work for them if innovation doesn't require in the most standard business functions such as human resources and accounts payable/receivable. It wouldn't take away business value. But software is crucial in "edge" companies and help them stay in competition or even being a leader. Implementing generic software that is also used by the competitors can negate competitive advantages.

Building Software Development Capabilities With Partnership

Gartner states that by 2019, 73% of companies moved to IT product management from previous years. Application development strategies shape people, practices, and technology investments that lead to a modernize and innovative app experience for digital transformation.

Perhaps technology and a strategic move help businesses make a distinction, but before that, it is important for IT leaders and company leaders up to the C-Suite mush first look that whether they have the right capabilities to compete in environments where software is significant for business outcomes.

For the leaders in a company is crucial to face reality whether the software is the new disruptor and differentiator for their business or not, regardless of their core line of business.

If yes, then leaders can adopt a growth mindset to build a top-performing development team. However, companies can achieve results in two ways:

  1. Hire skilled application development an deployment professionals/team, organizational leadership, building out development capabilities internally
  2. Outsource/Partnership with dedicated software companies whose business is to keep clients ahead of the competitive curve.

Things To Consider When Look For In Custom Software Development Partner

A winning service provider tunes well all company's competitive objectives. They build software based on those needs as well as also put efforts and leads you to maintain competitive advantages.

It enables companies to adopt forwarding approach while being agile, without costly hiring, retaining, and upkeep associated with maintaining a dynamic team.

Advantage of Partnership

  1. A business becomes more responsive to changing business needs
  2. An enterprise take advantage of new opportunities ahead of competitions
  3. A Business takes advantage to get evolved and adapt business and consumer technologies right from mobile, web, cloud, AI, ML, etc.

The software marketplace is bound to evolve. The huge impact if it makes anywhere is upon the largest and the more innovative companies, especially at a point when they have to expand their capabilities. A winning software partner at such scenarios can't just guide clients through the ever-evolving business needs, but also perform on custom development requirement.


There are requirements when off-the-shelf software is a go-to. For example, a start-up that needs to keep lower up-front costs and can't invest initially in setting up an IT team of skilled and talented professionals. A business can sustain easily for 2-5 years while saving cost with readymade software options. But it's highly recommended to keep embracing the strategic importance of software in your business. And, the moment your business starts to scale, invest in external talent and agility. A right tech partner can help you secure the digital future, competitive value, and ongoing business growth.

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About the author
Alka SinghTechnical Writer and Content Strategist at OnGraph Technologies Private Limited

Alka Singh a Technical Writer and Content Strategist. She has 7 years of experience working in different industries such as IT/Software, Digital Marketing, B2B and B2C. Her latest interest includes emerging technologies like Chatbot, voice-bot, RPA, ...

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