You can’t succeed in business without software that facilitates your business operations - that’s simply the fact nowadays. And while small businesses and startups can do with ready-made tools and even open-source solutions, the moment you want to grow and scale, you need custom software development.
Oftentimes, off-the-shelf software may seem like a quicker and easier option, but it doesn’t meet all the unique needs of businesses across various industries. This is where custom software development services come into play.
Tailor-made applications are in great demand among e-commerce, big data, logistics, fintech, and healthcare companies, to mention a few. In 2021, the global custom software development market was at $24.46 billion. It is expected to rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.3% from 2022 to 2030.
All this data showcases the high demand for custom software development. But why is it so popular?
To answer this question, let’s take an in-depth look at what custom software development is, how it compares to using out-of-the-box solutions, and the vital benefits of custom software development for your business.
On the spot
Custom software development is the process of designing, developing, and maintaining an exclusive software product created from scratch to cater to a company’s or personal needs.
The main differences between custom software development software and off-the-shelf software are:
⦿ Their purpose
⦿ The flexibility of the software
⦿ Time of delivery of the product
⦿ Legal ownership of the product
⦿ The process of implementing updates for the finished product
Obviously, you’ll use different solutions depending on your business needs. Let’s go through the benefits of customer software development to figure out if it fits your requirements.
Personalization: you can make the unique software that does what you want
Cost-effectiveness: you choose the budget and don’t spend money on additional modules
Security: you can any security measures you need
Flexibility: you can pick and choose what you need and change the product at any time
Scalability: If your business grows significantly, you don’t need to buy new products or plan
Reliability: there are no unexpected updates and changes
Integration: you get the product compatible with all your other software
Curious to learn more about SENLA’s approach to custom software development? Read on!
What Is Custom Software Development?
Custom software development refers to designing, developing, and maintaining an exclusive software product created specifically for your company according to your unique business needs and requirements.
Let’s say your bank needs a secure CRM system to manage and store client information. The existing off-the-shelf solutions may not fully meet your specific requirements or be compatible with other software systems you are using, such as your core banking software.
In this case, custom software development would involve hiring a team of developers to design, develop, and implement a CRM system tailored specifically to your bank’s needs. Such a system would be built from scratch, including gathering requirements, designing the UI, and creating a CRM system that integrates seamlessly with your existing software infrastructure.
The production process is often carried out by an outsourcing vendor with expertise and experience in building software this way, although you can create such software in-house if you have the team and resources. Compared to the off-the-shelf option, which offers a public (and typically basic) solution, custom software includes unique features, taking into account business value, proposition, and objectives.
It’s also worth mentioning that the custom application development process doesn’t end with the development stage. In addition to implementation, it also covers testing, launch, and post-launch maintenance and support, which ensures that your product will work exactly the way you need it to.
Custom Software Development vs. Off-the-Shelf Software: what’s the difference?
To get a better understanding of which approach is better for your business, let’s define the clear differences between these two options. We will compare them based on several important factors:
Off-the-shelf software is a good option for businesses that require a speed-to-market solution with essential features (your MVP). For instance, if a small retail store needs a basic inventory management system to track its sales, out-of-the-box software can provide the necessary features without the need for custom development.
On the other hand, custom software can address more complex tasks. Let’s say you are a healthcare provider who needs to create an electronic medical records system that aligns with your regulatory requirements and workflows. Custom software development can create a customized solution to provide a competitive advantage and ensure efficient data management and compliance.
Flexibility during development
Off-the-shelf software offers almost no flexibility, as it has pre-packaged features (sometimes irrelevant to you) that cannot be modified but must be paid for. The only way to select the features available is to choose from ready-made plans or subscription models.
Custom software, as its name suggests, allows you to implement anything to your liking. While it includes full-scale research of your business needs to ensure a 100% match of the developed solution, it can be adjusted if your priorities change during development. With custom solutions, nothing stops you from changing your path at any time.
Time of delivery
An out-of-the-box solution provides instant availability, while custom development requires weeks or even years to plan, design, develop, and test the software according to specific requirements.
Here’s how long, on average, each development stage takes:
While custom software development is a time-intensive process, it is also important to understand it can be influenced by various factors, such as project scope, resources needed, team size, and the complexity of the software. However, even though it requires more energy and time to develop robust custom software with a variety of tailored features, it will provide more long-term benefits and a greater competitive advantage.
At SENLA, our team contacts you within 24 hours in order to understand your project requirements and needs and start working as soon as possible to ensure faster time to market.
Legal ownership of the product
If intellectual property is one of your main concerns, you should know that with all off-the-shelf software, development ownership lies with the developer’s company. This means you only license the software for use without having control over the code.
Custom software, on the other hand, grants full ownership to you, providing complete control over future development, maintenance, modifications, and upgrades. This includes source code, design, and any intellectual property. Not only does this provide flexibility to adapt your software, but it allows you to choose how maintenance and support are handled to create an up-to-date, optimized, and secure end product.
In order to protect intellectual property and legal ownership of our Clients’ software, SENLA ensures a well-defined contract is tailored to include all the expectations, responsibilities, and regulations between you and the development team.
Updates to a finished product
Whether you choose to develop your custom solution in-house or outsource it, you have full freedom and control over maintenance, updates, and support of your end product to shape and refine it to your needs.
Off-the-shelf software doesn’t provide such services on demand. In the case of ready-made solutions, adapting and optimizing the software based on evolving business needs is often not an option.
Off-the-shelf vs. custom: which to choose?
Who is off-the-shelf software for? Small businesses with limited resources, businesses that do not require extensive software customization, and C-level decision-makers that focus on rapid deployment and cost-effective solutions.
Who is a custom solution for? Emerging businesses and startups that want to make a technological breakthrough on the market, well-established enterprises that want to enhance their productivity and scale operations and presence, and companies operating in industries with specialized needs (banking, healthcare, big data, e-commerce, etc.) to address their unique challenges.
Benefits of Custom Software Development
While we’ve already established the differences between out-of-the-box solutions and custom software, understanding the business advantages of the latter will help you decide whether you need it.
Let’s take a look at seven key benefits of custom software development:
As we’ve described, you can build custom software according to the unique specs of your business and make it meet every requirement you outline. This level of personalization ensures your business keeps up with the times, operating efficiently and innovatively.
For instance, the discovery phase is a crucial component of custom software development used by SENLA at the beginning of every software development project. This step further strengthens its personalization by diving deep into your business requirements. During this phase, our team:
- gathers insights,
- outlines specific functionalities,
- and designs the software’s architecture.
Our process allows us to start development with confidence, ensuring that the custom end product will bring your desired results.
Yes, the initial investment in custom application development may seem higher compared to out-of-the-box solutions. However, in the long term, it offers cost-effectiveness.
By eliminating the need to purchase multiple licenses or invest in unnecessary features, you will pay only for the functionalities you require. As a result, this can optimize costs and resource usage.
What’s more, post-launch maintenance and support may not be included in an off-the-shelf solution. This means additional expenses and personnel will be required for these purposes. Choosing custom software eliminates that need because development teams will carry out all maintenance, further enhancing cost efficiency.
Security is the primary concern for businesses with sensitive data, especially in industries such as healthcare and pharmaceuticals, banking and financial services, and manufacturing.
Custom software development provides companies with complete control over the security measures implemented within the software.
Partnering with SENLA can mitigate your security concerns and protect sensitive data. We conduct thorough security assessments and incorporate robust security protocols and standards, such as ISO 9001, ISO 27001, and HIPAA, that adhere to industry-specific regulations. This ensures your data is safeguarded against potential threats and vulnerabilities.
As your business evolves, your software requirements will change as well. And, of course, you need a solution that will adapt and scale accordingly.
Custom development provides 100% flexibility to add or remove features, allowing you to stay ahead in dynamic market environments and respond effectively to emerging changes.
To give an example of custom software development’s flexibility, let’s look at how SENLA addressed Yahoo’s challenges, making its internal tools more agile and adaptable.
When Yahoo’s ad solution faced issues with deprecated modules, outdated legacy code, and scalability, SENLA stepped in to replace the monolithic architecture with microservices, modernize the ad campaign management, and implement new technologies. This collaboration improved the company’s flexibility, enhanced security, helped modernize the code, and ensured adaptability in a dynamic market environment.
In addition to upgrading your software from time to time, you’ll also want to expand it as your user base increases and you have larger volumes of data to process. An off-the-shelf solution would be the wrong choice for these tasks.
Custom software development services allow you to design and build scalable solutions that adapt to your growing business needs.
Consider a company operating an e-commerce platform that experiences a sudden influx of clients and a significant increase in online orders.
While it certainly makes CEOs and marketing departments happy, the infrastructure of the website or the company’s operations may be strained. This surge in demand can lead to performance issues, slow response times, or even system failures.
To efficiently handle this situation, a company should have a tailored, scalable e-commerce platform. And custom software development can easily implement such solutions to seamlessly expand operations and ensure a smooth user experience during database growth.
Out-of-the-box software development is often predefined by update schedules, which can potentially cause disruptions in your business operations. With custom software, you benefit from a dedicated team that maintains, updates, and supports your product on your terms — when and how you need it.
You may choose to update it at night, when the traffic is lowest, or develop new features in parallel to an old system running if your tech stack supports it. Every single change is happening on your terms.
Either way, it’s a win-win situation. This reduces unexpected downtime and minimizes disruptions, saving you from losing your customers and revenue.
In your operation, you probably often face the need to somehow process the data coming from your partners’ systems. Choosing new software without decent integration capabilities will obviously complicate this process.
What’s more, if you don’t fully replace your existing software, simply augmenting what you have, the new software must also seamlessly integrate with your in-house systems. Otherwise, it will create more work for you, ruining all your innovation efforts. All in all, aren’t you upgrading to streamline operations?
In this regard, custom software development offers a significant benefit over off-the-shelf alternatives as it supports a high level of integration, enhancing information flow and enabling efficient collaboration across various departments.
From startups to established enterprises operating within diversified areas, companies prefer customizable software development for a good reason.
A tailor-made program will increase your return on investment, boost personalization, and provide higher security and integration capabilities with other systems. These benefits can open up many new opportunities to help you stay ahead of the curve and achieve sustainable growth in today’s highly competitive landscape.
SENLA is a leading software development company with 10+ years of experience in custom development using an extensive tech stack. Contact us today, and we’ll provide all the information you need for successful collaboration on your unique project development!