Do you want to improve the operational efficiency of your business? Or are you looking to start an online business of your own? In a world of technological advancement, these and many other key functions are now served by bespoke software.
Before we get started with bespoke software advantages and disadvantages, we need to talk about what exactly bespoke software is.
What Is Bespoke Software?
Bespoke or custom software refers to a software application which is developed with a certain user or organization in mind. It is not meant for general use and is, more often than not, developed to perform very specific functions, specially created according to the users’ needs.
Bespoke Software Advantages And Disadvantages
In order to understand bespoke software advantages and disadvantages in the best possible manner, we need to have a reference point in mind, i.e. a development option other than bespoke software. This is called off-the-shelf software.
The bespoke software advantages and disadvantages will make a lot more sense when we offer a casual comparison against off-the-shelf software. So without further ado, let’s delve into it!
There are two broad categories of software. The first one is off-the-shelf software and the other one is bespoke software (aka custom software).
We have already talked about what bespoke software is. So what sets it apart from off-the-shelf software?
Off-the-shelf software is a general-purpose software solution for a generalized audience. You can easily buy it off the shelf, in standard packaging, hence the name.
An example of off-the-shelf software is Shopify, which you can go for if you want a simple website that performs all the basic functions of an online marketplace, such as basic buying, selling, and inventory management. However, if you feel that you want your web application to perform some particular functions that Shopify or any other e-commerce website builder does not offer, you can contact a software development company to create specialized software for you.
Now that we are clear about the difference between off-the-shelf and bespoke software, let’s talk about bespoke software advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of Bespoke Software
There are many reasons why you may want to pick bespoke software over off-the-shelf ones.
The best part about bespoke software is that it allows the customization of software according to the clients’ precise needs.
With off-the-shelf software, you have to make do with whatever features the creators have offered. It is a limited package that contains certain functions for the masses to use. Some features that you want as part of the package may be missing, but there is nothing you can do about it. There would have to be some level of compromise on your part.
However, with bespoke software, the developers you contact for your project ask you to list down your exact requirements.
Let’s suppose you are looking for a mobile app that will tell you the exact type of skin condition a patient has just by scanning an image of the affected part of a patient’s body. You cannot find any existing apps that will do the job, so what do you do?
You contact someone who offers custom mobile app development services. They will build a product that will work exactly how you want it to, performing the specific functions that you want to perform.
Precision and Efficiency
Since bespoke software applications are made-to-measure, you have complete control over the features offered in the app. There are no unnecessary features that would be of no use to you or bog down your application. You can also make it clear to your developers what features you want in your app that will leave the end-users completely happy and content.
Hence, bespoke software is very precise, making way for increased efficiency and usability.
Most bespoke development companies follow the agile process. Under agile development, the requirement gathering phase is quite flexible. It allows developers to mold the product according to any modifications that the client feels necessary over the course of the project.
Agile development also follows a phased approach. The developers divide the project into modules. Once a module is completed, you can ensure that it meets your expectations, and then give the team the go-ahead to move on to the next stage.
Often, off-the-shelf software is not built with app security in mind.
When you go for bespoke software, you can clearly communicate all your security concerns to the developers. If there is going to be any sensitive data handling involved, the development team can take the required measures and ensure that they address all your security concerns in the creation of your app.
Some off-the-shelf software solutions such as ERPs and CRMs work on the basis of subscriptions. You need to keep paying hefty amounts of money every month (or year) depending on your package and usage.
To save yourself from those expenses, you can get your very own software product as a one-time investment.
Bespoke software companies also give you sole ownership of the IP rights, which means that the software product belongs to you, forever. You also have the right to choose who works on your project.
Support and Maintenance
Off-the-shelf software products sometimes tend to be abandoned or forgotten by the developers.
Imagine getting a brand-new off-the-shelf system installed in your 1000-employee organization, AND spending lots of time and money on training those employees, only to find out after a couple of years that the original creators of the software have abandoned the project. You will have to go through this entire expensive process again.
Bespoke software saves you from all this trouble. A reliable bespoke software developer will offer you post-launch services such as app support, helping the end users get accustomed to the new systems and promptly handling any problems that they run into. The software is also regularly updated and maintained so that it stays in order.
You may already have certain applications in place which you wish to work on alongside the new application. In such situations, off-the-shelf software is often hard to integrate with the existing systems.
In contrast, you can simply inform your bespoke software developers to create the new app in such a way that it can easily accommodate other existing systems and make way for smooth implementation as well.
Since corporate off-the-shelf software is so readily available, a lot of organizations choose the easy way out. Many of your competitors may end up using the same software.
Thus, going for a bespoke application will help you stand out and gain a competitive edge over other industry contenders, resulting in multiple business advantages.
Disadvantages of Bespoke Software
If bespoke software is so great, why doesn’t every customer go for it?
While there are significant advantages of bespoke software development, there are also a few negatives associated with it. Therefore, naturally, when weighing the option of bespoke software, the advantages and disadvantages both need to be considered.
Let’s discuss some drawbacks of custom software.
High Initial Costs
The one thing that makes most customers think twice before going for bespoke software is the initial cost that goes into its development.
Compared to generic off-the-shelf software, custom software can incur high costs for customers. where off-the-shelf software providers charge nominal subscription fees or one-time licenses, bespoke software developers charge thousands of dollars due to the amount of effort that goes into it.
Off-the-shelf is easily available and can quickly be purchased and implemented whenever the need for a new system arises. Bespoke software, on the other hand, may take months to develop.
High Training Costs
Since custom-built software is a completely new creation, it may be difficult to train end-users to use the new system. There are no pre-written instruction manuals or tutorials available online, unlike those for off-the-shelf systems. Thus, you may have to pay extra money to conduct special training sessions.
Off-the-shelf products often offer trials before a customer purchases the license. With bespoke software, you can either have all of it or nothing at all! There is no option for a ‘test run’ or a free trial.
Since off-the-shelf software caters to the masses, there are plenty of detailed user reviews available to help you decide which product to go for.
Custom software is developed from scratch, and you may not be lucky enough to come across a renowned enough developer within your price range. Thus, you might have to trust your gut and your luck when diving into a bespoke development project.
Now that we have compared both off-the-shelf and bespoke software’s advantages and disadvantages, you must have a better idea of which one to go for depending on the various factors that must be considered.
If you want a highly customized, flexible, and secure software that comes with a proper maintenance and support package, then bespoke software should be your top choice. However, if you cannot afford the initial expense or do not have the time needed to develop an app from scratch, then an off-the-shelf product would be your best bet!