What does “custom software” mean today?

By: Marissa

When your business is first starting out, you may not be open to hearing the words “custom software.” It may seem more plausible to begin with inexpensive, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software rather than spending time and money to invest in a custom solution. However, COTS applications are meant to address the common needs of most companies, rather than addressing the needs of your specific company. As a business leader, it is important to consider whether or not a custom solution would make sense for you and your company. 

A hybrid approach

The main application in this type of approach is the out of the box software. A developer or development group will integrate the new system with other systems and tailor the settings, reports, and dashboards to fill in any business gaps. The COTS software that most closely matches the needs of the company would be the least costly option for customization.

Initial costs associated with this approach would be any necessary add-ons and extensions to fully integrate the system with the existing software. The overall time it takes to get the solution the company needs would be dramatically decreased (without waiting on software vendor updates or the process for full customization).

While this is certainly a step above a COTS system, maintaining several software applications can get complicated. Certain COTS software have limitations that prevents users from making changes for customization in a useful way, and the updates released for COTS software may also modify the application (causing customized features to malfunction). Issues also arise with keeping information in sync and working efficiently.

A fully customized system

A completely customized application is designed to meet the exact needs of a user or an organization and is built from scratch. A software company typically begins by learning what sort of problems their client is facing and what type of solution they are looking for. The client’s specific goals and business processes are kept in mind through the development, testing, and release of their application.

An organization is able to decide what aspects they want and what sort of features to create for their unique needs. A custom solution also offers more flexibility and easy upgrades to accommodate changes and operational changes over time. Having software that works precisely for your company would provide ample benefits to promote growth and revenue down the road.

A custom solution today takes into consideration the extent of customization on a system – from minor alterations on a COTS application to a brand new software system. Pursuing an entirely custom solution can add value to your business and customers, giving you an advantage against competitors. Weigh the pros and cons of customization to decide how a tailored solution could transform your organization.

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