Developing Custom vs. Out of the Box Software - Part 1
Your business needs software to enable your staff to perform their jobs efficiently and to achieve a competitive edge with technology. Staying ahead of the competition means offering features and advantages to your customers and partners your competitors are not. Enter the vaunted discussion: should we build or buy software?
We often encounter the following scenarios:
- Companies purchased Out-of-the-Box Software (OTBS) in the past and adoption is low and/or employee frustration is high with OTBS because it doesn’t work the way they want it to.
- Companies need new software and begin evaluating alternatives.
- While working with clients we learn about their business and spot opportunities for them to work better; and suggest how technology can improve their business in ways they never considered.
The same conversation ensues:
Should we buy OTBS or build a custom solution?
A needs analysis is required to identify the optimal approach. Key questions to answer during the analysis phase:
How critical is this software to the success of our business?
- How complex is the application?
- Can you realistically build and support the application with in-house staff?
- When do you need a solution in place?
We’re big fans of developing custom solutions for clients but it’s not always the right answer. We’re offering up some advice on approaching a build versus buy decision.
Advantages of Custom Software
- Built Just for You Today and Tomorrow: You can customize the software to specifically meet your company’s unique needs instead of adapting to the way OTBS software works. Over time you can layer in new features to work exactly the way you want as your company evolves.
- Increase Productivity & Efficiency: Your staff can guide the software development to create efficient workflows, maximizing productivity.
- Reduce long term costs: Recurring licensing fees for OTBS add up. While you pay up front to develop custom software, the investment can pay off in the long run. You don’t pay ongoing licensing fees. Add in the payoff from more productive staff and increasing market share because you stand out from the competition; you can create a strong ROI.
- Slower to Start – Far More Speed in the Future: Deploying custom software will take longer than implementing OTBS, but once in place, you can add new features and functions rapidly.
- Remove the Clutter: OTBS comes loaded with unnecessary features which can decrease usability of the software. With custom software, you control the interface. Simplify the software to your heart’s content.
- Lower Training Costs: Because custom solutions are built for you and only include essential features, they are easier to learn.
- Competitive Edge: You cannot differentiate yourself using the same software as competitors. Offering superior technology that better meets client and partner needs means more business for you.
Advantages of Out of the Box Software
- Short Term Requirements: If you need access to functionality immediately and you’re willing to trade off rigidity of the solution versus immediate access, OTBS is quicker to install and configure.
- Lower Upfront Costs: Other than setup fees, OTBS is ready to go without an upfront investment required by custom solutions.
- Support Is Their Responsibility: The vendor is responsible to maintain and support the software. This can lower support requirements for your resources.
- Reliability: If the software has been well developed and is properly maintained with patches, upgrades and other support, the solution will be reliable.
This is Part 1 of a 2 part series on this topic. Please read Developing Custom vs. Out of the Box Software – Part 2 of this series where we offer a synopsis on how to decide which approach to take and some advice on making the decision.
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