A wide range of software products is available for you to choose from when it comes to your business. However, the main decision startup owners struggle to make is whether to build their own custom-made software or buy an off-the-shelf product. Both options have pros and cons to consider, depending on the requirements and business flow of every enterprise. 

  • Custom software is built specifically for a company and is intended to solve particular problems or facilitate certain tasks.
  • Off-the-shelf software is developed for public use. The software is designed so that anyone in any field can use any specific module.

When it comes to deciding which is the best choice for your business, the answer basically lies in identifying what your business requires from the software and, of course, taking into consideration the total cost. Each option has its advantages and usages, but there are a number of factors you can rely on to decide which kind of software best suits your business. 


Off-the-shelf software will typically be less expensive than customized software. The reason, of course, is that the cost of developing an off-the-shelf product is divided among a large number of end users instead of a single client. So if you are still establishing a startup and would rather be prudent when it comes to expenses, off-the-shelf software is a good option. 

A custom made software is specifically developed for one client who will naturally cover all the development expenses. The price of customized software products is higher because it includes the time and resources spent on development, design, building, testing, and implementation, as well as support, enhancements, maintenance, and possible upgrades in the long run. You basically pay for creating a tailored app and controlling it later on.


Developing software apps does not merely mean coding. The development process includes gathering requirements, design, UX, testing, and other steps that require skilled professionals who will need time to accomplish it. Therefore, some enterprises would neither distract their IT department with such a big project nor outsource it. Instead, they prefer to buy a ready-off-the-shelf product that is already tested, tried, and ready to implement. For those who are looking for a quick, accessible, and easily implemented solution this is your best bet.

Still, if you have clearly identified business needs, know exactly what software features serve your work processes, and have accounted for the cost and time required to develop custom-made software, then choose customization. The advantage here is that there will be no unnecessary features you won’t use, and the implementation will be easy since it is already specifically made to integrate your systems.


Talking about integration, enterprises should make sure that the software they buy integrates perfectly with their systems. Although off-the-shelf products are made to suit various requirements, it may be difficult to integrate your existing systems. Also, take into consideration that it may include features your enterprise won’t necessarily be using. So if you choose this option, make sure it is compatible.

If you are capable of going through a development process, the additional time and cost required to build custom software that guarantees a smooth integration may be well worth it. The development team will consider the company’s existing systems while preparing the blueprint of the software development project to make sure it will function perfectly and serve the objective. 

Your Business Needs

Commercial software is usually designed to work for the widest number of users. They tend to include many features, assuming that a larger variety will serve a bigger audience.  

If your specific business needs align with the features available in an off-the-shelf software, or if you are willing to manage your work process in a way that accommodates existing software, then you can choose off-the-shelf software.

The main goal of purchasing a custom product is to meet particular business needs. If it turns out you have particular procedures that need specific software features, then a customized product is what your need to facilitate the work process. It will keep you from compromising what makes your business unique and spending money on features present in off-the-shelf products you may not need.

Support and Upgrade

Off-the-shelf products will need regular updates, which are not necessarily costly. Most of them provide support through 24/7 call centers, Email, live chats with customer representatives, community forums, and “Help” functions built in. You also benefit from regular software updates that fix bugs and introduce new features but keep in mind that the software might not get updated for a while. If your business does not need more pressing support, then this is a good choice.

With customized software, you don’t have to wait for new updates and features. You can make changes to your software by adding features any time you want by simply asking your development experts. This comes with a high price tag as mentioned earlier, but you also get to own the software, enhance it simultaneously as your business grows, and work with it long-term.    

We understand the decision is hard, so here is a quick rundown.

Why choose off-the-shelf software?

  • You’re a startup and still haven’t figured out your business trajectory. Investing in the software while business processes are still being established is a risk you can avoid.
  • You are unable to make a significant investment in your business at this point.
  • You want a comprehensive software package to buy and install immediately. 
  • You have no specific requirements regarding software features. 
  • Having multiple channels of support is important to you. Off-the-shelf software comes with community support where you can ask questions anytime. 
  • You prefer the owner of the software to handle new features, integrations, and maintenance.

Why choose custom software?

  • Ready-made software fails to suit your business requirements.
  • You prefer unique software tailored for your business, guaranteeing integration and compatibility with existing technologies.
  • You want to be the owner of a custom-tailored solution that aligns with your business for long-term scalability and growth.
  • Your business processes require unique functionality.
  • If scalability is a requirement for your software development, it is more efficient to invest in a custom software product from the start.
  • You are willing and capable of making an investment in your business, and recognize the potential for a substantial ROI.
  • Securing the confidential data of your customers and stakeholders is a priority.

If custom software seems to be the right choice for your business, get in touch!

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Both generic and customized software offer several solutions and benefits for their users. To make a decision, consider all of the possible factors. Most importantly, check your business’ needs, capabilities, and the long-term implications of both options.

If you are still not sure about the path to take, please contact us for a free technical consultation. 


How do we know an off-the-shelf solution is failing a company?

You basically know an off-the-shelf solution has failed a company when you find yourself working around the software to achieve what the software is initially intended to do. Employees will be manually performing the extra work that the software is not providing, there will be time delays when serving clients, and the workflow will be slow. Once you notice those signs, then the software is not serving your company’s objective and it might be better to consider moving to a custom solution. 

What industries would benefit more from off-the-shelf and custom solutions?

Nowadays, every enterprise can benefit from the software and digital world. They can all make the best out of digital tools to accelerate work processes and boost workflow efficiency. Company owners in all fields should first identify the outcomes they want to achieve and accordingly choose the most suitable solution. If they can’t find an existing off-the-shelf solution, then they can build their own customized software to reach their intended objectives.