Many firms opt for off-the-shelf software without really thinking about it. But they’re missing out on the huge benefits of having bespoke software developed to meet their specific needs and enable their USP, which is something you don’t get with off-the-shelf solutions.
When you first look at buying software for your business, off-the-shelf looks like a no-brainer. You pay a fixed price or subscription, so costs are transparent. The software already exists, so there’s no waiting around – it’s a quick win. And because the package is already in use by many other companies, you have the reassurance of safety in numbers.
What’s more, off-the-shelf packages typically offer you a big bag of features. Again, that sounds good, because having more features seems to offer you more flexibility; a wider range of options. But what you should really do is choose the right tool for every job.
Using off-the-shelf software for specific business processes is a bit like using a Swiss Army knife all the time, when what you really need is a corkscrew. In other words, you’re paying for lots of features you don’t really need, or rarely need. You’re also tied into upgrades that may not bring you any functionality that you actually use.
Meanwhile, the one or two features you do use intensively may not actually be optimised for your needs. Maybe your staff are actually quite frustrated with them. Maybe it takes them a long time to carry out every task, or maybe they have to use workarounds to get the result they want.
Wasted time and low morale are expensive and bad for your business. But you’re powerless to change anything, because you’ve made a commitment to the off-the-shelf platform and you’re locked into its upgrade path. As just one user among many thousands, you have very little control over that path, so you only get improvements when the developers decide to create them – if they ever do.
With some software platforms, such as SAP, the workaround for these problems is customisation. This is like a halfway house between off-the-shelf and bespoke: you buy an existing package, then attempt to shape it to your needs by tweaking certain features. However, the customisation usually has to be done by highly paid consultants – and remember, all those costs are on top of whatever you’re paying for the software itself. Extensive customisation is a signpost towards what you should really be doing instead, which is going full bespoke.
Why bespoke is better
The truth is that many firms go for off-the-shelf because it feels like the right thing to do. But it’s not actually best for their business. In fact, they’d be better off making a proactive decision to commission their own bespoke software.
The main benefit of bespoke software is that it’s fully optimised for the way you actually work. If you need a feature, it’s there. On the other hand, if you don’t need it, it doesn’t even get built – and you don’t pay for it.
The result is a platform that feels clear and intuitive to your staff, allowing them to focus on doing their jobs faster and better. So you see gains in both efficiency and morale.
Bespoke is futureproof too. Need a new feature? No problem – we can build it for you. Your software will never hold your business back again. What’s more, it will never end up being withdrawn or unsupported, leaving you with nowhere to go.
New features, new horizons
However, bespoke software can do more than that. The new functionality that you create can unlock completely new services for your customers. These are services that your competitors just can’t match, precisely because they’re still using off-the-shelf software.
Now, some off-the-shelf packages are actually fit for purpose – like Office 365, which is used almost universally throughout the business world. You don’t want to give them up as a result of switching to a bespoke platform. Well, fortunately, you don’t have to. Thanks to APIs, we can make our bespoke software ‘talk’ to your existing packages and share your data seamlessly. That way, you get the best of both worlds.
Interested in learning more?
At Computer Service Centre, we specialise in developing enterprise-grade bespoke software for forward-looking businesses.
If you’d like to learn more or discuss your ideas or thoughts, just get in touch and one of our team members.
You can call us on 01603 431200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org