When buying new software for your business, do you want to be limited to its set features, or do you want complete control over what you can do? Do you want your application to be easily updated or extended in the future, or have to wait for the vendor to release an update? Do you want to have to pay for features you won’t use, or be able to strip out the excess weight to make it easier to use and navigate?
These are all questions to consider when deciding between off-the-shelf (OTS) software and a bespoke solution.
As it’s designed and built exclusively for you, bespoke software is built to meet your needs and challenges, so you can be confident your business will see an improvement. With OTS though, it takes a ‘one size fits all approach’, meaning it’s built for anyone to use and offers little customisation.
Deciding whether to go with custom-built software or buy a pre-made version depends on many factors such as your budget, how soon you need it, how it needs to work with your other systems and many more.
Here are 7 reasons why we believe bespoke solutions trump off-the-shelf alternatives:
1. Full Ownership
One key difference between software purchased from a vendor and software that’s unique to your business is that you have full ownership. This means you can make changes to the system, add features and customise the software as and when it is needed. When the software is yours (and not owned by a third party), you don’t have to rely on the vendor to make changes or be limited by licensing restrictions.
2. Complete Control
With full ownership comes complete control. A good software development company will let you have full input during the design and build stages of the development. The system is designed and functionality is added according to your requirements, and the look and feel of the system is modified to your liking.
With an off-the-shelf alternative, it’s a case of “what you see is what you get” and, unless you pay for modifications, its functionality, look and feel are often set in stone.
3. More Cost-Effective Long-Term
While the initial costs of building a bespoke system may be higher than purchasing a ready-made solution, tailor-made software provides a more cost-effective solution in the long term. This is because licensing and support costs are lower, while the cost of modifying the system in the future is lower than it would be if it was an out-of-the-box application.
Competitive advantages, improved customer service, streamlined workflows and improved data can come as a result of a bespoke application, improving your bottom line and giving you a greater return on investment (ROI).
Typically, off-the-shelf applications are bought for the here and now and businesses select a system based on the challenges they currently face.
While this is an effective short-term solution, it’s important to have the future in mind when investing in software. As your business grows, your software needs to grow with it so it can keep up with increased demand. The issue lies with the lack of scalability in out-of-the-box software, whereas bespoke applications are designed with future enhancements in mind and can be integrated with modern technology; making it a software to see a business through its entire lifespan.
5. Customer Support
Every bespoke software development company has a dedicated customer support team. A reputable agency ensures that its customer support team is technically minded and always readily available.
These experts possess in-depth knowledge of your system and can assist you when you want to update the system. They can guide you through the best approach and coordinate with the development team as needed.
6. Flexible Hosting
Most ready-made software, as well as being limited in features, are limited in how they can be hosted.
We’ve spoken to lots of businesses who wanted to purchase a specific software, only to find it was web-based and didn’t support their on-premise network. This meant going back to the drawing board, and either investing in cloud computing to make the software work or opting for a different solution entirely.
Through bespoke development, you can decide between on-premise, web-based or even a combination of the two (hybrid).
7. Competitive Edge
One of the biggest things about bespoke software is that it comes with all these benefits which your competitors can’t have.
Through the reduction of non-value-added tasks, your overall business efficiency will be improved, as will the productivity of your staff. Speeding up your process will also improve your customer satisfaction, which is proven to positively impact your sales and repeat customers.
Your company be seen as more innovative and modern through its use of modern technology, impressing both customers and staff.
For the past 15 years, we’ve designed and developed tailor-made software for companies in industries such as education, membership, engineering, manufacturing and much more. In some cases, clients came to us because their current solution was no longer fit-for-purpose and they couldn’t find an out-of-the-box software which ticked all their boxes.
In most cases, we develop the systems through our VISION platform. It’s a powerful and highly scalable CRM and MIS that can be fully customised to meet any organisation or industry. The system was designed to automate workflows to minimise time spent on non-value-added tasks across the business.
Here are some examples of tailor-made software we have designed and developed for our clients through our VISION software:
Flamingo Group is a global grower and supplier of fresh horticulture and premium produce. They work with 900 growers worldwide and deliver fresh products across the UK and Europe every day.
For their plants division, they needed a system that would manage their New Product Development (NPD) lifecycle. We developed them an easy-to-use horticulture system that allowed them to build new product ranges from one place, automatically calculating production and transport costs, freight and haulage, and automatically generating branded product specs, invoices, purchase orders and other related documentation.
After many years of seeing the benefits, they asked PSP to develop a web-based version for their flowers division.
"We have recently moved our entire spec system over from an Excel-based system and a competitor platform. We did this on the basis of VISION giving us exactly what we need. It's user-friendly, easily configurable and is capable of integration with our MRP systems. We are very happy to be consolidating to a single system, and VISION suits our needs perfectly.
We have been working with PSP for many years. We have recently engaged with the team to upgrade and extend some of our systems. This has been, quite possibly, the most painless process of this type we have been through! The team have been extremely accommodating, helpful and professional and has stuck to timelines and budgets entirely. A faultless performance." Group Head of Quality and Compliance, Flamingo
The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety & Health (NEBOSH) offer qualifications in health, safety, environment and wellbeing management. They needed to move their examination marking process from paper-based to digital.
The web-based marking tool automatically allocated and sent digital papers to markers and tracked the status of every paper out for marking, alerting exam managers to any overdue papers. Thanks to the system, the client saved money on operational costs, sped up their marking times and no longer had to rely on manually updated spreadsheets to keep track of every paper out for marking.
A commercial energy broker company asked PSP to develop a fully-integrated CRM and management system that would improve their customer service and increase their staff productivity.
While there are off-the-shelf Energy Broker CRMs currently on the market, they had such a unique set of requirements that a system had to be designed specifically for them.
The final solution was an easy-to-use desktop application which let them compare energy quotes from different suppliers, generate invoices with a click and they calculated it saved them the equivalent of a year's salary of a full-time administrator.
Despite all the above, tailor-made software is not always a practical solution. We recognise there are times when businesses need to go down the off-the-shelf route because of:
When opting for OTS software, there are many factors to consider and businesses must take these into account when choosing an off-the-shelf solution, including:
At PSP, we have a team of specialist IT professionals who are experts in IT product selection. We can analyse your business to identify a set of technical requirements and find the most cost-effective and suitable software for your business. You must follow a structured approach like the following:
Despite its larger upfront cost, developing tailor-made software can prove more cost-effective in the long run than purchasing an equivalent off-the-shelf. This is because a custom solution is purposefully built to improve or automate workflows or solve a specific problem. Integration with your other software is also factored in during the planning stages.
Whereas, if you purchased ready-made software but it didn’t meet all the criteria or didn’t integrate with your current systems, you then have to pay a developer to adapt the system. With those modifications, the money you thought you were saving by purchasing something ready-made would have been spent on changing the system.
When developing unique software, we focus on our customer’s People, System and Process (PSP) to design and build a fit-for-purpose solution which exactly matches their unique set of requirements. We take your ideas or challenges and turn them into automated and streamlined software which improves their business performance.
We'd love to welcome you into our office! We're only 20 miles north of Peterborough, conveniently just off the A16.
Apex Court, Elsoms Way