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    Out-of-the-box vs. Custom Software - which is the better option?

    So you’ve identified the need for software. You’ve likely started to research possible solutions, and in doing so, you’ve likely discovered there are both out-of-the-box options and custom software. With choice comes confusion!

    This blog will attempt to provide guidance to readers who are looking at implementing software and who are unsure about what the best solution is for them and their needs.


    Firstly, what are the differences?

    Out-of-the-box software is where the product is able to function immediately, without the need to modify it and without a special installation process. It comes ready to use, typically is simple to understand and does not require a long onboarding process.

    Custom software is developed to meet the specific needs and demands of an individual client. It typically takes the out-of-the-box software and tweaks it to fulfil a specific preference for the end-user with amendments to the functionality or features.


    Advantages of out-of-the-box software

    • Deployment speed – the software is designed to be used almost immediately, with little time required for installing and configuring it.
    • Cost – since there are no additional requirements and amendments to the software, it’s usually cheaper than custom solutions.
    • Quality and support – it’s a standardised product, often resulting in a more established and accessible support structure.
    • Availability – these solutions are more readily available to purchase and use
    • No IT expertise required – it’s designed to be simple to use, with no need for a large IT department to maintain and run it


    Disadvantages of out-of-the-box software

    • Missing features – this software is standardised, so is likely to lack functionality which is unique to your business (could also contain features which will never be used!)


    Advantages of custom software

    • Long -term pricing – custom software is very expensive in the short-term. However, a business can save money in the medium to long-term because it will avoid the ongoing licensing fees which are associated with out-of-the-box software.
    • Tailoring – since the solution has been specially designed, it enables a more efficient process of working because the features directly meet individual company needs.
    • Longevity – custom software is designed for your business so is a long-term solution

    Disadvantages of custom software

    • Training and support – because custom software is unique and not widely available, it is likely that it is less straightforward to use. Support staff will also be less experienced and lack the same level of product knowledge compared to out-of-the-box software.
    • Time to use – this software requires developers to tweak the product to meet customer needs, resulting in delays between ordering the software and being able to actually use it.
    • Complications – customising features can potentially lead to overbuilding, which makes systems complex to use and expensive to maintain.


    So which one is better?

    Both options have their benefits and drawbacks. For me, the out-of-the-box solution edges it.

    Having a well-supported product, that’s inexpensive to purchase and quick to implement, for most clients is the sensible choice. The right out-of-the-box software solution can even migrate or integrate with client’s legacy systems, an area where custom software was once the only answer.


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