IT organizations, when deciding to build or buy, tend to devote resources to either custom software application development or look for commercial-off-the-shell (COTS) solutions. And since we are living in a world full of options to buy, sell, collaborate, choosing a service, in particular, can be pretty overwhelming.
With the changing times, we have become quite picky. Whether it’s about the food we eat or the clothes we wear or the technology we use. I mean instead of simply buying a sandwich, today’s customers prefer buying one with the ingredients of your choice. Everything should be precise, just the right amount of condiments with your favorite bread. Instead of eating something which is already prepared for the masses? Preparing the right choice is really going to hit the right spot.
Now in the aforementioned example, the pre-prepared sandwich that we were talking about is off-the- shell-software mainly prepared for the masses and a customized one is custom software application development tailored according to your business taste.
Speaking specifically of the Software development industry, the reason for lagging can be “Customization”. Not every business considers customization a priority. Some choose to cling to COTS software (commercial off-the-shelf applications). Earlier choosing a software development company means you are on the verge of improving the efficiency of your business against their administrative employees. All this was done to put long tedious hours into mundane tasks. Now that the times have changed but the agenda is the same. Read more
The following post focuses on COTS vs Customer Software Development and everything about it in detail. So without any further ado, let’s begin!
Unlike custom development, COTS(Commercial Off-the-shelf) mainly refers to ready-made software designed for use. Do you remember those mannequins wearing sample dresses? Well, COTS are pretty much relatable, they can be tried by a wide range of customers. What these COTS comprise of? They include everything right from Microsoft exchange to payroll, and claims processing tools, to ERP and CRM systems.
In layman terms, COTS software is all about the one-size-fits-all thing adhered to general practices. And of course, one of the major reasons why businesses prefer trending towards commercial off-the-shelf software.
When to rely on a COTS Software
Scenario #1 If you have seen the COTS product you are considering work successfully somewhere else.
This is the best scenario to opt for a cots software. Unlike custom development, you won’t be 100% certain that the buildout will be scalable, workable, and affordable. Even if you have a well-thought plan or the best developers at your service. Whereas with cots, the situation changes instantly.
Scenario #2 If you have an inflexible budget
Another situation where a cots solution works wonders is when you want to predict the cost. Technically speaking, opting for such solutions can reduce maintenance costs such as keeping up with standards and changes, as well as standard software sustainment such as security patches and upgrades. When buying a COTS system, the cost of keeping up with standards is difficult. They evolve the COTS vendor, essentially diffusing the cost across all the vendor’s customers.
Advantages of Opting for COTS Solutions
- Initially a cheaper option
- Pretty quick to implement
- Pre-existing solutions
- Easy to access reviews and advice from existing users
- Can offer more functionality
Businesses of all sizes and industries find COTS solutions pretty interesting. A straightforward solution, you could have a new COTS application implemented in a matter of days. Deploying more complex systems quickly becomes easy. When compared to its alternatives (custom solution), the bespoke software doesn’t just take care of the long-term costs but also supports software updates, and patches to a great extent.
Introducing Custom Software Development
It may quite interest you to know that for quite some time people used to think that business processes incorporating enterprise software development can save a lot in terms of cost and time. Custom software development is quite a different story here! It has raised the business performance bar right on to the next level.
When to rely on Custom Software Development
Scenario #1 If you are a business creating a software
Imagine you have a business of building software, then creating a custom-built system is a viable solution. If you have in-house resources, growing and unforeseen costs associated can be pretty easily mitigated. Although it will always be a significant time investment, doing the work yourself will be much less financially burdensome than paying an outside contractor.
Scenario #2 Specific user requirements
Another interesting advantage of building your own software is that it can be customized the way you want. Now the moment you begin developing custom solutions, with a general-purpose programming language, no feature or user experience is off the table.
On and all, custom applications aren’t just for large enterprises as they have the potential to easily scale up and down (certainly better than off-the-shelf software) even smaller companies and startups can take advantage of it.
Advantages of Opting for Custom Development Solutions
#1 Tailored for the business exact needs — As the name suggests, custom solutions can be tailored for the exact business needs and business requirements. And since it has to be so specified, sometimes it does turn out to be a daunting task. Fret not, there are software development service providers around who ensure to deliver products. They just do not feature basic functionalities but the capability to reach peak productivity for your business.
#2 Emphasizes business acumen — Many of you believe that opting for custom software development sends out a strong message that values your in-house processes and takes your work and business needs seriously. It emphasizes your commitment to your business. As you streamline your process flows. Your're working model so it can function smoothly.
#3 Security — Many of you think that in Cots products vs custom, cots are way more secured. Well, it’s a misconception. In fact, cots systems are a prime target for hackers. You see, the more widely used a program is, the more attention it draws.
Custom software development is way more secure. You see, software today is built by using high-end technology. Unfortunately, it presents a potential path for the determined hacker.
COTS Vs Custom Software Development
So now you what custom software and what COTS is all about, it’s time to move on to build or buy, i.e COTs vs custom software. Knowing the difference will not just help you in improving overall business performance but also streamlining project management at lower operating costs.
#1 Build Purpose
Custom software is to meet the unique challenges of an organization. Like I said before, a customized solution is designed for special circumstances. It acts as a perfect solution to the problem. In fact, fine-tuning the software will turn out to be way simpler in the future. And all this can be done by maintaining a high level of performance.
Off-the-shelf software on the other hand turns out to be an immediate solution provider with a standard design and framework. There are chances that it might not cater to your individual requirements. This would require you to be more careful while choosing one.
Off-the-shelf software here has an advantage, it’s readily available to conduct general best practices. Anyone can buy it and install it on an immediate basis. However, that doesn’t mean organizations can understand all the functionalities without any hassle.
Custom Software when it comes to utility is built for a specific purpose. This means a non-techie organization or business must have an in-depth understanding of their needs. More or less they should be thorough regarding how the end products will address those needs. There are times when actual requirements are identified at the time of development.
On and all, custom software is better here as it is built in collaboration with the people within the organization.
Off-the-shell software has low upfront costs because the development cost is distributed across a wider audience. Of course, buying them turns out to be a cheaper option but it can cost you a lot more. Wondering why? Well, the reason can be anything inefficiencies, ongoing maintenance, due subscription fees.
On the contrary, a customized solution is an expensive upfront. The software solves specific needs which involve time and investment.
Though expensive, they probably last longer and make you feel uniquely yours. Instead, it makes you feel slightly off at this spot or that spot. Mainly designed for an already existing process, it saves time and overhead expenses in training the operations staff.
So whether to build or buy? Choosing the right option more or less depends on your requirements. I mean how complex, unique, and stable your solution is. And of course, other factors like your organization’s risk tolerance, concern with cash flow, or total cost of ownership matter a lot.
Be very careful when deciding!