Technology is not evolving these days on weeks or months basis; instead, it’s the process has narrowed down to mere days or fortnight. When we talk about software solutions, custom made solutions, used to be the de-facto choice for the companies in larger parts of the world. However, the entry of off-the-shelf software by big techs has changed the game. These off-the-shelf software come as a viable alternative option for any start-up who wishes to take advantage of modern computing without investing huge.

Both software-as-a-service (off-the-shelf) platforms, as well as custom made solutions, have their pros and cons. Before we start to discuss them in detail, let us take a step back and understand the difference between off-the-shelf software and customized software. The difference is illustrated here from the point of view of constructing a building and renting an office space in that building. When you construct a building from scratch, you build the architecture as per your requirement. The cost is high, and the construction process will take time. However, when you rent out an office space, you might get an area which is 90% according to you, but probably you compromise on the rest of the 10%. However, it might be the rest of the 10% that gives you the leverage to step-up from the competition.

The rest 10% is the game-changer in this situation which is what is being offered by the customized software. Unlike the off-the-shelf software which has been designed to cater to business needs in general and doesn’t provide any specific solutions. 

Understand this from the point of view of a restaurant; there are three restaurants in your neighbourhood, all serving fish and chips, the question is, how does one restaurant stand out? The factor that helps one of them stand out is from the rest is that 10%. The three of them might be buying the supplies from the same place, which brings the 90% similarity. But it is the recipe, the 10% which differentiates one from the other two.

Is it all about cost?

Off-the-shelf software is like a prepared meal, all one needs to do is order, and it will arrive at your doorstep ready to be consumed. However, a custom-made software is like preparing a meal from scratch; one doesn’t know how much each ingredient cost will or how long will it take to prepare it. Custom software takes time to be ready, the cost of each ingredient needs to be borne by the client, and hence it might cost more than a business is prepared to spend.

Also, the team building the custom software needs to be upfront about the time and resources required. Things like the initial design, build, test as well as implementation cost all need to be taken into consideration.

Customization: the need of the hour?

Start-ups can think to build the customized software in-house only if it requires extensive customization. However, if there are minor changes needed, it is advised to buy off-the-shelf software. Major industry players like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, offer software solutions which can be customized making them budget-friendly at the same time they cater to start-ups/businesses individual needs.

The last thing that one needs to ensure is, the off-the-shelf software is matured or not. Many off-the-shelf software might slow down systems with unnecessary modules and processes. To avoid such scenarios, a custom solution is what will be suitable for your need.

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