The need for customized software is on the rise. More and more companies need specific solutions for their needs - whether we’re talking about automation, digitalization, or project management, custom development companies can provide a resolution.
1. What is the difference between bespoke software and off-the-shelf? 2. What are the advantages of customized software? 3. What is the disadvantage of custom software? 4. What are the phases of custom software development? 5. What are the examples of custom software? 6. Which is the best software development company? 7. How much does custom software development cost?
Just like the name suggests, off-the-shelf software are products you buy and use exactly as they are, without having the option to customize them. Microsoft’s Office Suite is an excellent example of this.
Also known as Commercial Off The Shelf Solutions, these tools are made available to the mass market, targeting a broad audience and generic problems.
On the other hand, bespoke software is developed on demand, with a specific purpose for a particular organization. Digital solutions are built from the ground up, using the right technology stack, tools, and uxui design suitable for the problem.
As you can imagine, there are pros and cons to both types of software, so see what the most significant differences between them are:
As expected, the bespoke software cost is higher than the one of ready-made applications. Custom apps are more expensive at first because you also have to pay for the development processes respectively, the teams of developers that will work on your project. With off-the-shelf software, you just pay the license fee for using the product.
Additionally, ready-made software has a lower buy-in since its development is spread across thousands of users. This means that, usually, you have to pay for additional users. Therefore, scalability means extra costs for more users and additional integrations with off-the-shelf software.
Bespoke software keeps further enhancements at a minimal cost if your software is built with scalability in mind from the start.
One of the most significant differences between these two types of software is the waiting time. However, commercial solutions can be used immediately - you just have to do your research and perhaps test them a little before buying them.
With a custom software solution, the process might take a few months to be ready. The waiting period depends on the size and complexity of the project, as well as the size of your team. However, it’s highly possible that using a custom solution might save you time in the long run.
Integration into current processes
Here the difference is simple: custom solutions adapt to you, but you must adapt to ready-made solutions. You should consider what will happen if you “outgrow” your commercial software. Will you have to buy another subscription? Will you lose your data if you go with another software?
Bespoke software is usually built with integration in mind. Custom solutions are designed to integrate seamlessly with current systems and processes since they aim to enhance efficiency and productivity.
Help and support
The more popular a commercial software is, the more forums and online support you have if you struggle with something. Additionally, if the online community isn’t enough, most of them offer online support for their customers. However, if you don’t find the answer to your question, you might get stuck and frustrated because of the software limitations.
On the other hand, with custom software, you have a direct line of communication with the people that developed your software. Therefore, you can find solutions directly with them, or if you need to, you can modify the software and add new features. The offered support is more tailored and personal, thus more efficient in most cases. The same argument can be made for maintenance.
We’ve mentioned this before. Because off-the-shelf software is built for a vast audience, it addresses the majority, not the individual. This means there’s no guarantee that it will solve your entire problem or yield the same results that you expect.
A custom software solution will be built alongside your current processes; its development will be supervised and tested by you. This means that it will be built specifically for the goal you set initially.
Flexibility and Customisability
There’s commercial software for most things these days. However, this doesn’t mean that the commercial solution provides the results you need or works the way you need it to. Additionally, generic solutions developed for a wider audience will probably have a ton of features that you will never use - but that you pay for.
Bespoke software gives you complete control over what functionalities you want to include and how you want to design them. This means that you can customize the application any way you wish to, to ensure that it’s tailored to your needs and problems or scalable to your company's growth.
Who is off-the-shelf software for?
Considering the comparisons above, this software type is most suitable for small companies. Even if commercial solutions are generic, they can help streamline basic processes and increase efficiency up to a certain level.
Who is bespoke software for?
A custom software product is more targeted toward medium and large companies that want to grow. These solutions offer further development opportunities; therefore, they are highly scalable. Bespoke software is precisely customized for the client’s needs.
As opposed to commercial software, custom solutions are designed precisely according to the client’s requirements. But let’s see what other advantages there are for this type of software:
- Flexibility and control
Most custom software development companies have an Agile approach to applications development. This means that you have the possibility of modifying your specifications over time, should you need to.
As a client, you always have a say in the development process, meaning that the result will still be the perfect solution even if your requirements change during the months of development.
- Number of users
Even though development costs make you feel like bespoke software is too expensive, you should consider that you’re saving money in the long run. Commercial software usually has a license fee for each new user that needs to use the software. With custom solutions, since you are legally the software owner, you won’t have extra costs for new users when your business grows.
- Increased efficiency
Seamless systems integration and tailored design and development mean increased efficiency over time and usually result from deciding to build custom software solutions.
- Added value
When a company has its own branded, custom software solution, it climbs up the “food chain” faster than other businesses that use generic commercial software.
Even though the advantages of custom software can be compelling, it has drawbacks. There might be situations where commercial software is more suitable. Let’s take a look at the disadvantages that come with custom software:
- Experience needed
To exploit all of the benefits of bespoke software, you need to know your business and its needs through and through. Making assumptions and adding features you’re not sure you will use can be a significant waste of money.
- High initial costs
This is the most apparent disadvantage of bespoke software. A dedicated team working on your project, developing unique features, and using cutting-edge technologies can result in high development costs.
The development process alone might take a couple of months to be finished. However, we can add the time necessary for defining your business needs and deciding on your requirements for the custom software. What is your end goal? What features can help you reach that goal?
- Choosing the wrong custom software development company
Working with the wrong vendor can cost you a lot of time and money. Therefore, it’s a good idea to do your research before choosing the company you want to work with, ensuring that their solutions are according to your standards.
Planning and analysis
Defining the requirements in custom software development is a cornerstone. This is where the company you choose to work with understands your business, your niche, and your plans.
During this stage, you also choose your technology stack, technical specifications, etc. Additionally, it includes the research made to understand the current technology trends and implementation and maintenance prospects.
The result should be a software development plan approved by the client and the software company.
One of the crucial things that you need to get right with your application is its design. How your mobile app or web applications feel and look can influence customer retention. This is why uxui design is a critical stage in the development process.
This stage is all about the development of your application. It’s usually the longest one, and it involves developing the actual solution according to the planning and design stages.
The Agile development methodology is highly recommended because it promotes the smooth functioning of workflows and increases productivity.
Quality Assurance and testing
Quality assurance includes a set of activities designed to ensure the quality of the software engineering process. In this stage, you confirm that your software meets all the requirements and specifications you established in the planning stage and meets your quality standards.
You can use intermediate deliveries to have a fast feedback loop to show the software engineers the effects of their work. This way, mistakes can be fixed quickly, and changes can be released without waiting for a distant deployment date.
To exemplify what bespoke software can do for a company, let’s see two examples of custom software from Digitalya’s case studies:
ClientZen is the first customer experience management platform for B2B digital agencies. It uses artificial intelligence to measure client happiness in real-time and data analysis to generate personality insights and actionable items.
Current commercial software that provides feedback assessment isn’t delivering accurate results or doesn’t deliver them in a timely fashion. Our goal was to provide a solution that could gather client feedback in real-time and give accurate insights.
SEI Healthcare is a web app that has a real-time visualization dashboard to showcase user interactions across various medical quizzes.
The aim was to build a performant data-driven web app to showcase, in a user-friendly way, information gathered from over 1.000.000 users worldwide. The platform is highly secure and relies on user permissions to be safe and intuitive for the end-user.
While there is no definitive answer to decide which is the top custom software development company, we provided you with a list of 10 good custom software development companies that you can keep in mind for your future projects. Please note that the list is not in any particular order.
Digitalya is a custom development company specialized in web development, especially in the healthcare and marketing industries. With over 52 successful projects, their services include web application development, product validation, and strategy workshops, among others. Their goal is to help companies streamline their services and provide support for digitalization.
This is one of the big custom software development companies focused mostly on enterprise software. Based in the United Kingdom, they provide a wide range of services, from staff augmentation to outsourced IT services.
Based in San Francisco, this software development agency provides web and mobile development services using the latest programming languages, like React Native, Node, or Angular. In addition, they use data science to help their clients make data-driven decisions.
This is one of the agencies that also offers digital marketing services. Based in Los Angeles, they also provide custom software services, E-commerce, and web design.
This is one of the mid-market class custom software development companies. They offer services from staff augmentation to software outsourcing and consider themselves to be digital acceleration experts.
Based in Los Angeles, this agency focuses on mobile development and offers software consultancy services. They have a lot of impressive clients, from Facebook to Microsoft and Sony.
This agency offers virtual reality and augmented reality development services, among others. They were rated the number one development firm in Los Angeles, and among their clients, you can find Sony, Disney, Yamaha, and many other globally known names.
Based in the United Kingdon, Studio Graphene designs and builds digital products. They’re advocates of human-centered design - their product design is engaging, intuitive, and accessible, with user experience in mind.
This New York based agency is focused on mobile application development, including accounting software. They have over 1000 successfully delivered apps and were awarded the number one app development company for fintech by Clutch in 2019.
This is a Minneapolis based agency focused on custom development and software consultancy services. They offer custom software development for small businesses in a wide range of industries.
Custom software development costs vary depending on the region, the software provider, your app's features, and its complexity, among other factors. It’s difficult to give an exact price for a project, but you can calculate a rough estimate based on complexity:
- Simple apps can range from $24,000 to $60,000.
- Complex apps can start from $36,000 to $85,000.
- Advanced apps, ranging from $59,000 to $137,000.
However, if you want a more detailed estimate, we have an ebook that can teach you how to calculate your own estimate based on a multitude of factors. You can find the resource here.
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