Software can help transform your business
Bespoke Software Vs Off The Shelf Systems - How Do You Decide?
Custom Made or Off The Shelf Software, which to chose?
Bespoke software vs off the shelf business systems - How do you decide?
For any company wanting to improve efficiency and increase profit,
introducing better use of business software is usually high on the list of things that are long overdue.
But deciding to invest in a new software solution is just the beginning, there is then the question of whether to go with custom made business software and apps, or choose off the shelf, ready-made systems.
What is the difference between Bespoke Software and Off the Shelf Software?
Bespoke software is software designed specifically for your company, tailor made to suit your needs and you essentially get exactly what you ask for.
Off the shelf software means buying a computer programme that is ready-made. A tried and tested software product that already exists.
Although this article is not just about software provided by us, here at S B Systems we delight in providing both off the shelf and bespoke development services,
and it’s important that customers understand the benefits that each can bring to their company and their business plans.
The top 5 things to do before choosing between bespoke software or ready made software.
- Understand Why and What – Start with fully understanding why you need new software and what problems it will solve in your business.
- Look at Both Costs & Cost Savings – Look at the initial costs and ongoing fees for the software options available to you, but also calculate how much you will save by introducing software to automate and complete repetitive tasks.
- Manage Your Timescale Expectations – Think about how soon you need the software. Can you afford to take a little more time to get a perfect fit or will a good fit be enough?
- Ongoing Support – Check to see what ongoing support is available for the software options you are reviewing and be sure that it will be a service that you will be happy to use should the need arise.
- Look and Learn – read articles like the one below and understand the different options available to you.
So, how do you choose whether to buy ready-made or tailor-made software?
The first thing to consider is growth. Whatever business systems and apps you invest in, you need flexibility,
and they need to be able to grow as your business does. Going with the cheapest option is seldom a sensible decision when it comes to software,
although the same can often be said for choosing the most expensive. Don’t just simply assume you get what you pay for. You need to make sure you choose a company you can trust.
The costs of bespoke business software compared to off the shelf software.
There’s no doubt about it, software is never really considered cheap, but whatever you choose to invest in, when deciding on your budget, you need to factor in the longer-term cost savings. Calculate the value behind the amount of time it will save you, and how much potential it has to help you streamline and grow your business. In my role, I'm supporting customers on a regular basis and the best feedback I get is always in relation to how much easier the software makes things. It can remove duplication, reduce errors, and frees up staff to enable them to concentrate on jobs needing the human touch, like building relationships with customers and clients.
The longer-term costs need to be considered too. There is little point in going with a cheaper option now, if it means when you scale your business up you will have to start again because your needs have evolved but the system hasn’t.
Off the shelf can sometimes still be tailored.
It’s always worth checking if any off the shelf package that maybe meets many of your needs, can be modified to meet your bespoke requirements either immediately or in the future, should the need arise. Sometimes it can be more cost-effective and quicker to choose an off the shelf product and combine it with bespoke modifications.
We pride ourselves on offering a bespoke modification service with all our software, whether it be tailor-made or one of our ready-made systems such as Job Tracker Professional
or Mortgage Administrator.
But be aware, not all off the shelf products from other providers will come with this service, so be sure to ask up front and bear this in mind when making your decisions.
Timescales – Quick doesn’t always do the trick
Undoubtedly, purchasing an off the shelf business software solution means you can get up and running faster with your new system rather than waiting for your bespoke software to be developed to fit your unique requirements.
This all needs to be considered. As the saying goes though, More haste, less speed. Make sure you don’t just go for a ‘fast fix’, as you could end up regretting it.
Features – sometimes getting more than you asked for is a good thing.
Choosing a bespoke, tailor-made solution means that you can ultimately get a software solution that does exactly what you need it to, whereas purchasing or
leasing a ready-made system could potentially mean that there are features available that you won’t use. This of course all depends on the individual product that you choose.
It may be that the cost difference means that it’s still cheaper to go with off the shelf, so possibly having the excess features available is not necessarily an issue.
And who knows, just because those features aren’t of use to you currently, they may well come in handy if your requirements change in the future.
I regularly provide training to new customers utilising our Job Tracker Professional, Job Management software system. Many start out thinking they have very simple requirements but soon realise that there is still so much more that can be automated than they first thought. A recent customer realised they’d save approximately £20 a day just by switching on one of our existing features. A time-saving feature they hadn’t even considered they needed. £20 a day may not sound much but think just how much new business £400 a month spent on marketing could bring you, or how you could best invest that amazing saving of £5200 a year to help you to continue to expand and grow a truly profitable business.
As you can see from what we have discussed above, cost is definitely not the only area for consideration, but it is a big factor.
As well as the initial outlay, you need to be sure to factor in operating costs. Many off the shelf software products these days operate with monthly licence fees,
which are usually payable on a per-user basis. It is increasingly common now for such fees to also be payable with bespoke software. Sometimes negotiating and agreeing
to this can bring down the initial development costs. Just be sure, whoever you choose to work with, that you confirm both upfront and ongoing costs when arranging any bespoke software development.
There is no right or wrong way to do this, it’s down to your preference and the options available via your chosen software provider.
Although cost isn’t the only factor, bear in mind that sometimes another pitfall of choosing the cheapest option could mean that the chosen software provider may not necessarily have a long history of providing a great service. Generally, it’s a good idea to choose a well-established company with expertise and experience. Whoever you choose, maybe ask for references and customer feedback. Generally, this feedback won’t be in the form of reviews on Google, as it’s quite different to your usual shopping experience, but a reputable company should be able to connect you with customers in a similar field to your own.
Whether you choose bespoke apps or an off the shelf software package, you need to know that your investment is safe, so make sure you discuss and agree an ongoing software support package. You automatically insure your buildings and your car, so making sure you have the appropriate protection in place to help you keep up and running with software that’s critical to your business, should be no different.
When looking at the support that’s available for the software, consider if it’s a frustration-free support service. Some companies offer 24-hour chat when in fact it's an automated Q & A.
Some offer email support which can often make it difficult to resolve issues quickly with things often misunderstood or misread. Some direct you to user forums, where users support each other.
Or some, like us, offer UK-based telephone support, we can then, with your permission, log into your machine remotely and work fast to help resolve any issues that arise.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ way to make the choice between bespoke or off the shelf, and in some instances, you can combine the two by purchasing bespoke modifications be made to a ready-made product.
Whatever you choose, just make sure you protect your investment by choosing a company that will offer you ongoing support and have a proven track record of providing great service.
To talk to us about our off the shelf software products, or to discuss our excellent Bespoke Software development service, call 01255 830113. We’ve over twenty years’ experience and hundreds of happy customers who have worked with us to find the perfect solution that catered for their needs and budget. We offer flexible solutions and work closely with customers to help ensure you get what your company needs to be able to continue to grow, streamline and ultimately increase your profit.
If you find this feature useful or have any feedback regarding future articles you'd like us to share, please take a moment to let us know. Email us at Hello@sbsystems.co.uk
Blog Posted by
Business Development Manager at S B Systems, where our team of expert engineers has been providing first-class software solutions and database technologies to businesses nationally and internationally for well over 20 years.Remember, here at S B Systems we’re experts at software development. If you are looking for specific modifications to your existing systems, or are looking for custom made bespoke apps or tailor made web portals then we’re the ones you need to speak to.
Call us on 01255 830113 or contact us today.
Bringing bespoke software projects to life is what we do.