Custom Software or Off-The-Shelf? We Try to Solve the Debate

Custom Software or Off-The-Shelf We Try to Solve the Debate

Companies are increasingly inclining towards the digital transformation of their businesses. However, when it comes to choosing the software, they are normally confused between whether to go with Custom software development, or Off-The-Shelf solution. To make a choice, you need to understand the pros and cons of both custom-built and Off-The-Shelf software. In fact, this is the key to choosing the best software.

Custom Software 

Custom software solutions are specially developed for an organization. This is what distinguishes them from mass-market software. There is a genuine requirement for custom software since the software market often can’t meet the demands of modern business processes.  Moreover, organizations often either like to have or are compelled to have some unique features in their digital portfolio. This is why companies need to develop software that can adapt to the unique concerns of business processes. In fact, there are many benefits to having custom software. 


  • Custom software is designed specifically to cope with the unique challenges that a business may be facing. If the developer or the development team does it well, it can offer a near perfect solution to many of the problems that your organization may be facing.
  • You can easily scale and modify custom software and keep it abreast of changes in your operational and other changes. Moreover, you become the owner of this software.

Yet, it is not all hunky-dory about custom-designed software. They too have demerits. 


  • A customized software solution entails huge upfront investment. Although the efficiencies of the system borne out of custom software are worth such investment, some organizations may just cringe at the thought of such upfront investment.
  • It is not a quick fix for your organization’s digital needs. It needs to undergo an evaluation and a development phase spanning over several months. Only such a carefully evaluated, planned, and meticulously executed project can help you achieve all the desired goals. So, you need to look for a time period of several months to get the result. 

There is little doubt that the merits of custom software far outweigh its demerits. But you need to take a look at the merits and demerits of Off-The-Shelf software too.

Off-The-Shelf Software

Readymade software available in stores or online is known as Off-The-Shelf Software. They are ready to use software designed for a broad purpose. However, there may be issues with such software when you need deep customization and integration. 


  • If you need a quick fix for any of your company’s digital initiative aspects, you can get that in a packaged software. These software programs can be quickly installed and used. However, a packaged solution is not a customized one and may even not be entirely compatible with the systems in your organization. So, you may not be able to achieve the benefits of quick installation.
  • These software programs have low upfront costs as these are mass-produced. However, the annual maintenance charges and subscription fees along with the inefficiencies of the software may put a spanner on any benefits arising out of low initial cost.
  • You can use them for the adoption of the solution over a broad range of aspects, but they cannot deliver the exact solution.


  • Off-The-Shelf Software cannot deliver all the goals of your digital initiative. It may not meet all the requirements of your business. Although it may cost lesser than a custom solution, its efficiency is way lower than it. 
  • Moreover, all the license fees and maintenance fees may eat upon its perceived benefits.
  • You can hardly change, modify or scale them in tandem with the growth of your business.


In essence, an Off-The-Shelf Software is no match for custom software. However, for small businesses, custom software might be too expensive and take too long to develop and Off-The-Shelf software could be the way to go.

Share This Post