Implementing high-quality software solutions is on the agenda of the majority of companies in all industries. Well-selected software can have a substantial impact on the business’ productivity, efficiency, and revenue.

Depending on the goals, budget, and growth forecasts, managers face the choice of buying off-the-shelf packaged software or investing in custom software development.

Let’s look at the key differences between custom and packaged software. This information can help you make the right decision for your company.

What is Packaged Software?

Packaged software is a program created for the general public. This software is developed to provide clients with a variety of tools. It’s aimed at satisfying users in different niches. One user isn’t likely to use all the options offered by the packaged software.

Many different tools are packaged in one piece of software and provided to the public.  Each user selects which features it needs in the packaged software and takes advantage of them while ignoring the rest.

The most well-known example of packaged software is Microsoft Office. It groups many different tools. However, most people use just one or two of them on a regular basis.

What is Custom Software?

This software is created to suit the specific needs of one department or company. Usually, the cost of such development is higher since the software is sold to one client with a specific purpose.

Custom software has numerous benefits over packaged software, such as better support, higher flexibility, lower learning curve, fewer bugs, and much more. However, not all companies choose to take advantage of this type of software because of its price.

Custom-developed programs provide companies control over design, upgrades, maintenance, options, and more. They have a high ROI and impressive efficiency.

1.  Security

One of the top concerns many companies have when buying software is security. With cybercrimes on the rise, keeping sensitive information safe is highly important. When it comes to working with packaged software, security is not always at its best.

  • Hackers have access to the software on the shelf so it’s easier for them to find loopholes.
  • Users aren’t always diligent about upgrading software timely to patch loopholes.

When it comes to custom software, security is heightened. A custom software development company focuses on the client’s needs to ensure all data is well protected. All updates are implemented timely.

Bottom line: Packaged software is usually less secure than custom software. However, if you don’t work with sensitive information and trust your teams to make timely updates, it could be a suitable choice.

2.  Convenience

Since packaged software is developed to cater to the needs of numerous clients, it has many different features. Your company isn’t likely to be using all of them. Just the opposite, users are forced to ignore some of the program’s tools and functionality.

This makes using packaged software somewhat inconvenient since unnecessary features can get in the way.

Custom software fulfills the specific needs of the company. Accordingly, all the features and functions are useful to the employees. This makes the operation convenient while reducing the learning curve and improving productivity.

Bottom line: Custom software is easier and more convenient to use than packaged software. In case you need to be using the majority of features offered by packaged software, it may be a feasible choice.

3.  Support

When a company develops packaged software, it doesn’t always plan for the volume of support it needs to offer. In many cases, users have to look for answers on their own by browsing forums, reading Q&A sections, and more. Contacting support can be time-consuming, frustrating, and not always productive.

When you invest in custom software, you get top-notch support directly from the developer. You are likely to get a person designated to deal with the support of your particular program.

Bottom line: Support can differ depending on the developer that creates a packaged program. For custom software, you are likely to get higher quality support, which is easier and faster to access.

4.  Flexibility

When you buy an off-the-shelf packaged program, it has a certain functionality, which stays with it throughout the use. When you need a new feature or a function, you have to invest in a new program.

Customs software is usually built to be flexible. If your company grows or chooses a different direction, you can upgrade the program to adjust to the changes. This can save you money in the long run since upgrades are likely to be cheaper than purchasing a new program. Meanwhile, adapting to the upgrade is easier and less time-consuming.

Bottom line: Packaged off-the-shelf software may have an impressive number of features and functionalities, but it can’t be upgraded in case your company needs something new. Custom software is more flexible.

5.  Control

When you are buying packaged software, you have to accept the design and functionality provided by the developer. While it’s often possible to make a few adjustments to customize the interface, the majority stays the same.

With custom software, you have control over the design of the program. You can make it easier to use for your employees and improve the interface to suit them perfectly.

Bottom line: With custom software, you have more control over the program’s design than you do with packaged programs. This reduces the learning curve and improves the user experience.

6.  Price

When it comes to the initial investment, the costs of creating custom software are higher. Meanwhile, it takes longer to develop a program than it does to buy a ready-to-use product.

However, in the long run, custom software can be less expensive than its packaged counterparts for the following reasons.

  • Custom software does a better job of improving the company’s productivity.
  • With custom software, you spend less time learning how to use it.
  • When you need new functionality, it’s usually cheaper to upgrade the customs app than buy a new packaged software

Bottom line: While initial costs of custom software development are higher, it has an impressive ROI.

Final Thoughts

While custom software has numerous advantages, packaged programs are highly beneficial as well. Startups and companies with low budgets may want to start with packaged software. Meanwhile, larger companies that need to increase output and revenue can benefit from custom software development.

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