As a business grows, one of the most common questions is whether they should build a customised software solution or buy one off the shelf?

It all depends on how you do business.

Custom software is designed for a company that has a specific way of doing business, while an off the shelve approach is readily available it is not bespoke to your business – meaning your business needs to work with the software restrictions.  Plus, with off the shelf solution, it often falls short of meeting the specific needs of the business resulting in lots of features being left unused. Custom software is there to help develop software applications that cater to the business needs and its requirements and support business growth.

So here we outline some pros and cons of both custom and off the shelf.

Pros and Cons of Custom Software


It can be built with unlimited options to support your business

You can scale the software as your business grows

Puts your business in complete control

Change or maintenance can be made very quickly as your business needs it

Solutions can be built to your exact business processes

Training staff to use the software is easy


The initial cost can be high but will cost less in the future

It does take a longer time to develop 


Pros and Cons of Off the Shelf Software


It is cheaper than custom software

It is initially reliable as it has been used before and well tested


It can be harder to use as it isn’t bespoke to your business requirements

It is not dynamic and slow to change to business needs

It can come with higher customisations costs

They have many features that are not used

The software is designed for many different users, which tends to be compromised

So, there you have it.

It is good to remember that custom software development is becoming more popular due to the fact that it allows businesses to implement their unique ideas and USPs by creating custom software. When businesses turn to off the shelf, it is likely that their competition is also using the same software. There are lots to think about as all software is crucial to any business.

Greystone: Making sense of IT and software solutions