Custom Software or Off the Shelf – Decide what is right for you

Deciding between custom software and off the shelf software is a key business decision for any organization. Each option has its own merits and drawbacks. You have to weigh them carefully before deciding what is beneficial for your business.

Off the shelf

An Off the shelf (or bespoke) software refers to products that are readily available in the market. It comes handy and requires less set up time. They are designed for a broader audience so they will have numerous features all of which might not be useful to your business. The off the shelf product may not have certain functionalities that your business demands. Some vendors provide options to customize the product based on your requirements.


  • Quick set up – can be implemented straight away
  • Free trials – you can try them for free
  • Discussion forum – you can get answers from user forums for queries
  • Low upfront cost – initial set up cost is low
  • Regular upgrades available


  • License cost – you have to buy the product
  • High maintenance cost – upgrades, changes, and support comes with additional cost
  • Ownership – you don’t own the source code
  • Lacks Scalability – it is not easy to modify the product
  • Missing features – it may not have all elements required by your business
  • Compatibility issue – it might conflict with your current system

Custom software

Be it a shoe or a dress we all know one size doesn’t fit all. An off the shelf software might be readily available but it might not help your business plan in the long run. Custom software is designed exactly to match your requirements and overcomes the shortcomings of an off the shelf product. It might come with a higher initial cost but it requires no license and upgradation is easy as you own the source code.  Most of the custom applications are user-friendly as they don’t have redundant functionalities. A well-built custom application can be better than any commercial off the shelf product.


  • Tailor-made – customized for your business
  • Ownership – you get ownership of the product
  • Expandable – flexible, can scale up with changing needs of your business
  • Maintenance and support – easy to get technical assistance from the development team
  • Secured – security aspects of the application can be designed to your choice
  • Integration – easier to integrate with other systems
  • An advantage over your competitors who use same off the shelf product


  • Cost – Higher initial cost as it is done exclusively for you but has a long term gain
  • Time – It definitely takes time to build custom software.

The risk involved in building a custom software might be addressed by choosing an organization who has ample expertise in developing custom applications. Weighing the pros and cons and keeping your long term business goal in mind decide on the right option.

Get in touch with us for any questions you may have regarding custom software development.