Packaged vs. Custom Software Solutions
Buy vs. Build: The Eternal Dilemma
Buy vs. build is a critical decision that all companies must face in today’s world, in which technology is at the core of doing business. Both package software and custom software have their various advantages and disadvantages that you must evaluate before choosing the right approach for your company. While packaged solutions may have advantages in terms of initial cost savings and immediate availability, the “one size fits all” approach may not be the best fit for your business.
There are a number of advantages and disadvantages of both custom and packaged software, which can be summarised as follows:
Advantages of custom software solutions
Custom software solutions is designed specifically to your requirements and built to operate exactly as you need. Moreover, it can be changed as your business changes or altered to further improve its performance. Custom software can also be integrated with your existing systems and any future systems as required.
With custom software, you get every function that you need and none that you don’t need. It should also operate in the way that you are used to working which means that it will be easier to use.
Being able to perform tasks that your competitors cannot do means that you gain real competitive advantage with custom software solutions. Given that custom software can be listed as an asset of your organisation, it can add value to the business.
Disadvantages of custom software solutions
Custom software is usually more expensive to start with requiring a large initial investment. Once in place though the software may cost nothing further to use. In addition to this, the development process for custom software solutions can take a long time and the input from the business can be considerable.
Advantages of packaged software solutions
Packaged software solutions are designed for both horizontal and vertical markets. In order to cater for the needs of many, vendors have to spend an enormous amount of effort and expense to incorporate world-class functionality into their products. Duplicating such expense to develop similar functionality in custom developed applications, in many cases, is prohibitively expensive.
Packaged solutions tend to be far more configurable than custom developed applications. In other words, they can accommodate change by adjusting table values to a far greater degree than is usual for custom developed applications. Moreover, package environments often come with capabilities that a customer does not to use immediately but are there for future exploitation as and when required.
A packages solution can be implemented in significantly less time than a custom application and often at substantially less cost. You also don’t have to dedicate any of your time to the development process (e.g. helping with requirements specifications, testing etc.)
Disadvantages of packaged software solutions
Packaged software solutions can be highly complex and usually include many features that you will never us. Given the software tends to be large and complicated it may take a long time to learn properly. You may also have to alter the way that you work in order to fit in with the way that the software has been designed.
If your organisation’s business processes are truly unique then the packaged software may need to be customised to accommodate them or you may need to change your processes to accommodate the package.
Given the same system can be bought by your competitors it is very difficult to gain any competitive advantage from its use.
What’s best for your business?
If you still don’t know which is best for your business (package or custom software) then SBS can help you with your decision process.