So you just realized that you could really use some software that will relieve you from those tedious tasks that you or your team spend so much time on every month. Now you have two options. You either reach out to a software development company explain what you need and they will create a custom software solution for you from scratch. Or you find an existing software solution that has just the functionality you need and buy it as a product, or alternatively a subscription (which is getting more popular these days).
There is no definite answer as to which approach is better as such. Both have their place, but you need to understand their different purpose in order to choose the one that will work for you.
One thing you should keep in mind when making a choice is that a custom software solution will cover your requirements entirely. You will define what will be the functionality and according to that, your chosen software development company will design and produce a custom made piece of software for you.
This is particularly useful when you expect that you will need to add many new features in future. Your software vendor will usually be happy to create these for you. With a boxed software product you would need to buy a new version. The major problem is that you may not include these features if they are not demanded by most customers, though.
Now, let’s say you have older software infrastructure that you need to upgrade to new technology, due to performance or compatibilty issues. Chances are you really need the new solution to be, functionality-wise, 100% compliant with the old one. Unless you can afford to change your business process instead. In this case, you have no other choice but have a new software custom made.
Obviously, you can expect custom software to be more expensive. However, the difference may not always be as huge as you would think. The real downside might be that it takes typically 2-12 months or even more to deliver a custom software solution, depending on its complexity. But if you need something really specialized it’s definitely a way to go. After all, you may not have another option anyway.
The other option that you have is to purchase an existing software product for the job you need to be done. Such software is be used by thousands of other users and companies. There is a good and a bad thing about this fact. The good one is that it will likely be very well tested. The bad one is that it is designed to serve general tasks common for many businesses and it will have some features you do not need and lack some that you do need.
Though, if you have a defined set of features that will not change in near future and there is an out of the box solution that has them it certainly is a way to go. But always try it out before buying. Software rarely comes cheap and you don’t want to make a major investment only to find out that you don’t like it, or it doesn’t work for you at all.
Also if you are starting on a green field and you are not using any software yet, you will not have any integration issues. That makes it much easier to start using out-of-the-box software. Additionally, you can just buy it and use it right away. And it’s likely that if you have zero software automation yet, you don’t want to wait months to have a custom solution delivered and get started.
As you can see the decision breaks
down into a few major factors. These are status quo that you are starting from,
required features, amount of expected changes and time constraints. If you are
still having a hard time to decide, try exploring a few existing software
products. Maybe you find one that you like and works for you perfectly. If you
don’t, your choice is clear and you will have a better idea of what you do and
don’t want when talking to your software supplier about the new custom solution