Buying canned software packages v building a customized system
Modern businesses need software for all kinds of reasons and ambitious business owners are faced with the decision of whether to develop custom software that is specifically designed for your business or settle for an off-the-shelf package.
This article is the first of a three-part series discussing the pros and cons of developing your own software, and looks at the specific areas of your business you need to take into consideration before making a decision.
In this series you will find:
- What you can expect from custom software
- How to decide whether your business needs custom software
- Buy v build – the pros and cons of canned software
For many business owners, there is a fine balance between the budget you have at your disposal today and your business goals for future growth.
Your current situation versus your business objectives clearly influences the decision of whether to buy an existing software package or build a system that best suits your business needs with a view to long-term evolution.
With such rapid advancements in technology, the decision is made all the more difficult, as canned products ultimately have a shelf-life and can soon become outdated. On the flip side they do offer a convenient and immediate solution.
The pros and cons of buying canned software packages
The most obvious advantage to buying off-the-shelf software solutions is they are less expensive than a customized build. For companies on a limited budget, canned software represents a logical step.
However, the savings are only a short term gain. Pre-programmed software will typically provide the base requirements your company needs to survive the current climate.
Ultimately, existing software solutions cannot keep up with the progress of technological and the performance of your business will eventually suffer. Off-the-shelf software needs constantly replacing which can be more expensive over the long term.
The only other advantage to canned software is they provide a quick and convenient solution for businesses that are short on time as well as finances.
However, practically all businesses find that packaged software has limitations and does not have the capacity to meet all the demands of your business.
In some cases, this can pose problems, and because you are not able to modify the program, some areas of your business will not be as competitive as they could be.
The solution in this scenario is to purchase off-the-shelf software that is specifically designed to perform the tasks you need to run your business to optimum level. But this racks up the costs.
Another problem you may encounter here is that one software solution may not be compatible with other programs and you find yourself having to work in two systems to complete one task. Rather than increase output, productivity is slowed down.
Whilst off-the-shelf software packages are quick and easy to install, and present the less expensive option over the short-term, the lack of customization and potential impact on productivity can often mean they are the more expensive option over the long-term.
Next we will look at the pros and cons of customized software development to help you determine if the option presents a plausible solution for your business.