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Custom Software Development: Advantages and Disadvantages

Along with the many advantages, custom software development may have a downside.

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Many business owners, especially SMEs, struggle to decide the correct software category for their business. There are many reasons why this decision is difficult to make. First, let’s see the factors based on which organizations and companies choose a software category.

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1) Critical Factors for Choosing a Software Category

Although we have listed the generic and most important factors below, these factors may vary from business to business.

  • The adaptability of the software
  • Cost of software development
  • Time required for software development
  • Ease of use/ Interface
  • Flexibility in terms of expansion of the features
  • Technology used

Once you know the factors that decide which software category to choose, let’s look at the commonly available types.

2) Common Software Categories

Generally, there are three main categories into which all types of software fall. These categories are separated from each other based on the above factors. And here they are:

  1. Turnkey Software
  2. Software Platforms
  3. Custom Software

Our focus will remain on custom software because of its increased demand and business utilization. However, the other two are also discussed briefly.

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1. Turnkey Software

The name says it all – it’s just like you have to ‘turn your key,’ and it’s ready to go. Turnkey software products are ready-made programs and require minimal configuration. Ideally, you begin by learning to use the software and identify functional gaps. Once those gaps are identified, you then fulfill them with external support.

This external support may either be manual and spontaneous or use spreadsheets and other complementary software.

2. Software Platforms

Platform-based software programs are part turnkey and part custom software. They come with moderate to little customization options while, at the same time, ready to use. Although they are better in flexibility and configuration than turnkey software, their upfront cost and the time required for the first run make them a difficult choice.

In many business settings, it has been observed that business owners like to either go with turnkey programs or directly switch to custom software.

The reason?

“Why should I pay more, wait for more, and still not get a tailored solution?” 

On the other hand, businesses that directly choose a platform-based software rather than turnkey in their first run end up using it for ages. Since you outgrow a turnkey program quite early, you can get overwhelmed with the additional support with them. This leads to going for custom software.

3. Custom Software

If you are already running a business and realize that your productivity relies on the arrival of custom software, you may need to plan it well. A simple reason is a time required for custom software to be ready. Because once you opt for custom software, there is hardly any going back.

Custom software is a permanent and long-term solution. It has all the features you need to run your day-to-day operations and achieve long-term goals. The best part about custom software is that there is unlimited flexibility in terms of adding more features.

That means, even if you did not plan it for long-term goals, you could do it later when needed. In addition, we will discuss numerous benefits of custom software regarding usability and enhancements in the advantages section.

3) Need for a Custom Software

As we already discussed, custom software reduces the effort of additional support; the real question is if you need one. Here is a checklist for making sure your business needs custom software:

  • The solution to your unique business situation doesn’t seem to exist in the market
  • You are reluctant to experiment with turnkey and platform software
  • You lack the time for the experimentation mentioned above
  • You want to own the software
  • Your new product/service is SaaS-based
  • You want an overall personalized feel to match your company’s standards.

There may be, of course, more points to check depending on the business model you have. But for a start, these checkpoints are enough to shortlist the software category.

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4) Advantages of Custom Software Development

  • Unlimited flexibility in terms of design, functionality, features, and enhancements.
  • Lower runtime costs.
  • No need for a per-user license.
  • An opportunity to create a productive asset for your business.

Along with the many advantages, custom software development may have a downside.

5) Disadvantages or Factors limiting the choice of Custom Software Development

More than the disadvantages, the following list contains the factors that may limit you from selecting custom software programs.

  • Large upfront payment to initiate the custom software development.
  • Significant wait time before the software is finally developed and ready to be integrated.
  • Maintenance and upkeeping of the custom software after its development.

Once you know all the advantages and disadvantages of custom software, it’s time to decide whether you want it developed by a custom software development company or a freelancer.

6) Software Development Company or Freelancer?

Your budget for custom software development can heavily influence this choice. If you think you will run out of the business without acquiring one and lack enough capital, you may go with a freelancer.

But if there is no financial restriction and you want things to be up and running in the business, then ideally, software development companies are the best. Of course, freelance software developers and companies provide custom software development services, but the results may differ.

This doesn’t mean that all freelance software developers are scamming people out there.

The differentiating factors are resources, professionalism, and guaranteed results.

Final Thoughts

Turnkey software programs are the best when your business doesn’t heavily rely on using specific software. They are also great when time and money are limited constraints for you.

A medium solution is a platform-based software. These programs are more flexible than the turnkey programs but certainly much more limited than custom software. Also, you may have to arrange some training workshops for the employees for the platform software.

Finally, Custom software programs – you need to make a significant investment here. But the results are much better in the long run and bring unlimited flexibility in terms of functionality, enhancements, design, and features.

Whether you choose to go with custom software or not, we can assure you that one day when your business starts to outgrow your expectations, you will need one.

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