Build vs Buy Software: Pros & Cons of Custom Software Development
In today’s digital world, almost every business, regardless of its size or niche, needs a software solution to manage data, improve customer experience and update internal processes. A dizzying array of business software programs is already available on the market and there is always a prospect to build a custom software solution.
“Buy vs build software” is a problem for many business owners. In this article, we share our experience in custom software development, overview the ready-made software pros & cons to help find an appropriate solution for the “build vs buy” software issue.
Introduction: Before Making Your Build vs Buy Software Decision
The world is moving online. Businesses are doing their best to stay in touch with the audiences. There is a huge surge in investments to digitize businesses. Statista reports, as of March 2021, 56% of business owners have put digital transformation on top of their priorities.
If you are skeptical about moving your business online, have a look at our article dedicated to the digital transformation for businesses. We’ve outlined a four-step plan for a seamless digital transformation of your business and presented impressive success stories of companies who were not afraid to follow innovative technologies.
Many companies that have already decided to move online, face the challenge of “build versus buy”; some prefer a business software solution, while others prefer to use free business software.
To avoid mistakes, save time and money, here are the main issues to think over before making a buy vs build software decision:
- Why do you need a software solution?
The purposes may differ but the decision to buy an off-the-shelf product or build a custom software solution depends solely on you. If, for example, you aim to upgrade and automate some of the normal business processes, an existing software solution will be more than enough.
However, if you wish to introduce a new technological process, feature or technology, and you know that your existing software will be unable to process it, you need an innovative software solution tailored to your specific needs.
- Do you have the necessary budget?
Some business owners make a common mistake thinking they can buy software cheap, compromising the quality and security of the business data.
We aren’t saying that building customised software costs a fortune. We suggest thinking over the budget thoroughly, keeping in mind the size of your company and the exact needs the future solution will serve.
- What are your terms?
If you wish to implement a complex software development project quickly and start using it in your work as soon as possible, maybe custom development is not the right option to select, and it could be better to have a look at the software solutions existing on the market.
By honestly answering these questions, you will get a clear understanding of what to opt for: building a custom solution or buying off-the-shelf software. We have collected the pros & cons of both the options below to help you make an informed decision.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Building a Custom Software Solution
First of all, you need to understand what is custom software. Custom software solutions created from scratch for the needs of a particular business are always unique and specialized. They adapt to existing business processes and allow you to quickly implement new ones. Their interface is designed specifically for employees and clients of a particular company. All special software functions and tools are used to the fullest, there is nothing unnecessary. Certainly, custom enterprise software solutions can improve your company’s efficiency.
Moreover, there is only one owner of this software product – your company. This means you can add and remove features according to your business processes and current requirements.
Bespoke software development provides full control over any changes and absolute independence from third parties. Therefore, giants in their business niches like Amazon, Netflix, McDonald’s, Google use only custom software.
To provide you with a clear understanding, we’ve considered the main pros and cons of custom software development.
Benefits of building custom software solutions
- Customizations. All the features of a custom software solution are created to adapt to the exact business processes of your company. Bespoke software is convenient in design; hence employees can quickly get used to it, and you can save time and effort on learning to work with the new software. In addition, custom software will have fewer errors and will work quicker.
- Control. You decide what and when you would like to change things in your mobile or web software solution. Custom software provides you with full control for adding, changing, removing features and adapting the existing ones to new business needs.
- Integrations. With a custom software product, you will have all the necessary integrations with third parties made seamlessly during the development process. Moreover, to start working with your new solution, you will only need to migrate the existing work data to your new platform.
Drawbacks of building custom software solutions
Although custom software development seems a perfect way to a digital transformation, it has minor setbacks as well.
The list includes:
The specialists of our custom software development firm are often asked one and the same question: is it very expensive to build a software solution? Well, we have to be honest: custom software products cost.
You will need to pay the full software development costs. Depending on your needs, the price can range from medium to high. The starting price will be higher than any monthly subscription of ready-made software. Faced with this, businesses often pursue this challenge gradually. At first, they require to develop only the most essential features and then, depending on the costs, continue with adding the functions.
However, in the case of custom software development you will most likely save in the long run. To test this, try to compare the cost of your bespoke solution and the subscription price for the period you plan to use the off-the-shelf product.
Custom software development takes time. Firstly, it is necessary to develop a project, outline the desired functions, budget and timeline. Next comes the development and implementation stages. Here the terms can vary from several weeks to several months. To make a more accurate assessment, you need to take into account all the features and tasks of the project.
Remember that work on custom software development always starts with the preparation and submission of a request for proposal (RFP). Study the checklist of points to include into an RFP we have prepared in our Medium article.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Buying Off-The-Shelf Software
Using a ready-made product means using the software that is ready from the very beginning. It is not unique. Off-the-shelf solutions are standard. Their features were created to optimize the operations of any enterprise.
Indeed, you can try to customize them for yourself, just like we adapt, for example, Skype, Microsoft Office Suite, or SAP.
This option has its pros and cons as well and we have already figured them out.
Benefits of buying ready-made software
- Cost. The cost of using ready-made software can be several times lower than the custom-made. Plus, there are flexible pricing packages and free trial periods. Usually, you only have to pay for the number of accounts you use.
- Terms. In the case of ready-made software, you don’t have to wait for it to be developed. It’s only necessary to register and pay the subscription. Voila. You can start using it immediately.
- Support and updates. Many users have already worked with this standard software. Most likely, they have already encountered problems that you do not even know about yet and which you will try to solve when you start using it. This provides quick support for any possible issue. In addition, there are guides for the most popular settings and ready-made answers to most frequently asked questions.
Drawbacks of buying ready-made software
No matter how many features a ready-made solution provides, they will not fully suit your specific needs. Thus, your company will need to adapt or even change its workflow as per the features available in the ready-made software.
With an off-the-shelf solution, you will not have full control of the features and even updates. Software updates aren’t always for the best, sometimes the functions you need are removed or changed, and you have to look for a way out.
Also, if a software company is facing financial difficulties, it can close the application. Or less critical situations with errors and bugs can occur – and you need to wait until everything works again normally.
Standard software often includes many functions and tools, and around 10% of them can be useful and fully compatible with your company’s existing software.
Moreover, you have to be prepared to spend time setting up and learning how to properly use the off-the-shelf software.
Whichever type of software appeals to you, regardless of your business niche, it is necessary to consider business needs, the company’s scalability, long-and-short-term goals before deciding whether to build or buy the software.
However, remember that in the “build vs buy” challenge you can:
- choose the development of your own ideal software, but be prepared to spend money and time on it;
- buy a subscription or find free services, but in this case, you will have to cope with restrictions.
At NEKLO we are ready to help you. If you wish to build a custom software solution, contact us through the form on our website. Our certified developers will help to work out the development strategy and deliver your solution in the shortest time frames.
In case you prefer using a ready-made software, we will help with the necessary support and consulting services to make your company’s digital transformation a success. Reach out!