Software Off the Shelf or Custom

Edward Reed
Jan 29, 2018 · 2 min read

Business owners have a few options when it comes to software. The first option, buying software off the shelf (OTS), is fast, cheap, and simple to install. While mass-produced business software is designed to meet general similarities across businesses, it does not work well for every business. There is some flexibility but businesses may have to change operations, billing, or report formats to suit the software.

Making Changes

If the business is a business of one person, or just a few staff people, it is easy to make changes needed to suit the software. Since there are only a handful of staff, a brainstorming session can identify the differences and implement procedures to coincide with the features of the software. A large business owner, along with many software users, will find it difficult suit OTS products and maintain efficiency.

Software as a Service

Software as a service (SaaS), provides more flexibility and customization features than OTC. It is automatically updated, has specific applications and dashboards from which to choose, and can be upgraded as the business grows. This option is affordable, easily accessed, and include technical help for problem solving. It too, however, is designed to accommodate many common business similarities across industries.

Custom Software

There are two ways in which a custom software developer can customize software. Adding specific applications to OTC products, or further customizing the applications, is an ideal solution for business owners who may require minor adjustments to OTC for it to be efficient and work within the current operational structure. This type of custom software development is faster and less expensive than the second custom option.

Total Customization

Custom Software Development that is completely designed for one user or one company will take several months to create. The developer discusses the needs and expectations of the business with the owner and management team. It is essential to be as specific as possible when describing operations, billing and invoicing preferences, unique aspects of the business, and desired results. Applications are then developed from scratch to accommodate only that one business.


Custom software designed from the ground up is a major investment. Some of the cost is offset by the drastic improvement in efficiency and productivity. It often provides clients with a competitive edge that will increase revenues. Another advantage is that the software does not become obsolete as the business grows because it suits operational procedures.

Most companies include changes or adjustments in the software for a certain length of time in the total cost of development. Training is also provided so users will get the most benefit from the new software. A consultation can be scheduled to help owners explore all the options and arrive at informed final decisions.

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