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Custom and off-the-shelf software: Pros and cons

18 января, 2023
4 min read

Today, custom software development and off-the-shelf software solutions are the top two options for businesses when it comes to selecting the right software for their specific needs. Bespoke software is designed to meet specific business requirements and comply with all applicable security requirements. On the other hand, an off-the-shelf package provides a comprehensive solution that will meet most general business needs. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, so let’s take a closer look at these alternatives.

Custom software development


1) More control

When you build custom software, you have complete control over its features and performance. This allows you to customise the application’s design while ensuring that it meets all of your business or organisation’s requirements.

2) Enhanced security

Custom development also allows you to implement specific security measures to protect your data from internal and external threats. In addition, custom code is inherently more secure than standard code found in off-the-shelf software products because it has not been tested by outside parties and it is generally easier to maintain the secrecy of its code base.

3) Superior Quality & Performance

Because custom applications are developed specifically for a customer, the level of quality should be high compared to off-the-shelf solutions that may have been written without taking into account certain requirements of that customer’s system environment or user needs.


1) Cost & Time

Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of developing custom software is the cost and time involved in the process, as it requires extensive man-hours from experienced developers who understand both the technology and the business processes.

2) Maintenance & Upgrading

Another disadvantage is that maintenance can become difficult over time as newer versions of technologies are constantly being released, unless proper maintenance contracts are in place with developers/vendors/partners, etc., which in turn becomes an additional cost for companies to consider over time.

Off-the-shelf solutions


1) Lower costs

Companies tend to initially benefit from lower costs associated with licensing such applications compared to paying development fees for custom software solutions from scratch.

2) Quick Deployment

Compared to custom-built applications, licensing off-the-shelf packages tends to be quicker when it comes to actual deployment into production, as several ready-made aspects come bundled with such products, such as authentication modules, predefined settings (e.g. ‘click next’ approach, etc.), help documentation, etc., thus allowing users/clients to get up and running quickly without excessive day-to-day effort, even years after the initial purchase.

3) Cross Platform Compatibility

Such packaged solutions tend to offer a higher level of compatibility due to integration capabilities offered by third party vendors, where customers don’t have to worry much about any UI issues while transferring between different platforms such as desktop vs mobile vs web based systems etc., provided they support the same or similar databases used by these programs.


1) Feature Limitations

Off-the-shelf packages tend to offer limited choices in terms of feature implementations, i.e. providing only standardised feature functions, any enhancement request costs much more money than initially anticipated on a pure development basis; thus, this route proves to be a very expensive path for many organisations looking for specific tailor-made services.

2) Security Issues

Without reviewing the underlying source codes that power these softwares, there might exist some potential backdoors left open by malicious coders to perform activities like data stealing or manipulation within database or backend servers; this risks confidential user information inadvertently falling into wrong hands if proper protocols are not followed during the evaluation phase before actually buying the product licence agreement as some companies that make them provide limited demos that don’t perform deep scans beneath the surface level interface, thereby exposing customer data sometimes unintentionally if vulnerabilities are not properly identified through sophisticated testing.

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