The choice between building or buying software solutions has always been a struggle for companies. On the one hand, building your own software gives you the best advantage as it gives you total control over how it should be made. On the other hand, there are numerous off the shelf software solutions already available that are generally cheaper but may not offer the same functionality.
Of course, there are pros and cons to each option. Here are some important considerations to make when selecting a software solution that fits your needs.
General Considerations to Make
Building a custom software solution can offer numerous benefits for an organization. Before choosing a custom solution, you need to determine whether or not there is an actual need being fulfilled. Here are three general considerations you should make.
- What is the scope of the problem you are trying to address and the complexity of the solution required?
- Do you have a team of experts who can build, maintain, and support the solution?
- Does the problem require an urgent solution?
When to Consider Building Custom Software
Custom software development is a great solution for businesses looking to expand their operations or solve a specific business challenge. Although they can be quite expensive, the return on your investment is worth it. However, a significant amount of energy, time, and resources must be dedicated to its development. For that reason, off-the-shelf software might seem like a better idea, depending on the complexity of your needs. Here are some reasons to reconsider:
Your needs cannot be met with canned solutions. Generally, one or a combination of different canned solutions can usually meet a company’s needs. But in cases where a specific need must be met, custom software may be required.
You need greater customizability. Canned software comes with built-in features that, most of the time, cannot be changed. In some cases, you may need to add or subtract different functions.
You need more control. You have total ownership of the software you build. As such, you gain total control over its functionality and its development.
When to Consider Buying Off-the-Shelf
Canned solutions can be a more logical option under certain circumstances. In particular, smaller businesses who are at the early stages of its operations may benefit more from canned solutions due to the following reasons:
You have a limited budget. Custom software is more expensive than canned software. A cheaper option generally makes more sense for businesses working with a more limited budget. If you’re able to accomplish what you’re hoping to accomplish with an out of the box solution, then moving forward without a custom solution makes more sense.
Your team lacks technological prowess. It can be difficult to create your own custom solution when your team lacks expertise and technological skills to accomplish such a feat. In this case, it would be much better for you to stick to off the shelf software until you have a team that does have such skills.
You need immediate solutions. The development of custom software takes a significant amount of time and energy to accomplish. If you need a solution right now, it’s best to go off-the-shelf.