Wikipedia: Custom software
Since custom software is developed for a single customer it can accommodate that customer's particular preferences and expectations. Custom software may be designed in stage by stage processes, allowing all nuances and possible hidden dangers to be taken into account, including issues which were not mentioned in the specifications. Especially the first phase in the software development process may involve many departments, including marketing, engineering, research and development and general management.
Bespoke or 'custom' software refers to a program that is created for a specific task or organisation. It's counterpart is called 'off the shelf' software, and differs from bespoke software because it is targeted and designed to cater for a mass audience and not a specific individual or company. Below is a, hopefully objective, list of the advantages and disadvantages of each - so that you can make up your own mind about what is best for you (after all, we sell both).
Advantages of 'off the shelf' Software
- It can be very sophisticated (e.g. Microsoft Office), mainly due to the revenue spread.
- It can be relatively cheap as the cost of development is spread over lots of users or customers.
Drawbacks of 'off the shelf' Software
- The sophistication mentioned above can also be a drawback, because it can confuse people and be unintuitive or disconnected from the users specific purpose. Bespoke software is tailored to specific needs and so, as a result, there is little room for what is referred to as 'software bloat'.
- People who buy 'off the shelf' software are usually compromising on unused and missing features. By it's nature it is designed for many different types of users and so it has to offer either the most common feature or a complex mix of many.
- Hard to learn how to use, because of the inherit complexity.
- Sometimes people will alter their processes or the way they already work to fit in with a piece of software - this can lead in decreased productivity and ultimately a loss in revenue. Some would argue that the difference you pay for bespoke software will more than pay for itself in the long run.
- It will be impossible in the future to add or change features of the software.
- If you run in to problems (usually software bugs) then it will be almost impossible to get them fixed!
- Your competitors can buy exactly the same software, removing any competitive edge you get when using it.
Advantages of Bespoke Software
- It can be designed to suit the inner workings of your business, fitting perfectly with current process.
- It can be customised very quickly and be added to over time when new requirements become apparent.
- It will not have any unnecessary features, reducing user confusion.
- It can work exactly how you would expect it to work - which means that in most cases training is not even required.
- It is more intuitive and user friendly.
- Because it is tuned to your specific needs, time will be saved, ultimately leading to increased productivity which, of course, goes hand in hand with increased revenue.
- It is more secure, because mischievous parties are unlikely to waste their time on a piece of bespoke software when they can target an 'off the shelf' application that will come with far more potential targets.
- It can have an element of flexibility not found in 'off the shelf' software.
- The support is usually better, because you can talk directly, over the phone, to the person who made it.
- If you are lucky and find a good developer then they can significantly add value to your company by suggesting alternatives, improvements and by acting as a source of IT advice and information.
- Bespoke software can give you business advantage over the competition.
Drawbacks of Bespoke Software
- It usually costs more to buy bespoke software. You need to consider all of the advantages to determine if it is the correct business decision to put you above the competition technologically.
- You need to ensure that you choose a development company that is happy to sit down and talk with you, and one that is able to provide a proper maintenance agreement including support, improvements, management, backup and free bug fixing (like us :) ).
Having a bespoke application developed for you can provide major business and commercial benefits alongside a significant competitive advantage. It can also improve productivity in many different ways, for example - every time someone makes a sale or records a new contact all other system users can receive an email informing them of their colleagues work - thus creating a constructively competitive and productive working environment. This is not something that most 'off the shelf' products can achieve with the same usability and intuitiveness. Couple this with all the advantages of using web based software and you will not regret contacting us.