When your company passes various development stages, you face more and more new challenges. Entering new markets, scaling up your business, and attracting new audiences require introducing new software solutions to help you optimize internal workflows. Here, you face a dilemma. You can choose one of the widely used off-the-shelf solutions or adopt bespoke software.

Suppose that you chose ready-to-use software with a comprehensive set of features that, at first glance, can satisfy all your requirements. However, later it turns out that the product or its components do not work as expected, and you have to invest your time and money in its customization. Considering that off-the-shelf solutions don’t provide vast possibilities in terms of functionality adjustments, there’s always the chance that your efforts to make the software you use more relevant to your needs would be in vain. Due to this reason, many businesses turn their eyes towards bespoke software solutions that only require a little additional rework after the purchase.

Bespoke Software vs. Off-The-Shelf Software

If you want to make an informed decision about whether a custom or off-the-shelf software solution suits you better, it’s necessary to understand the difference between them.

Bespoke software is a solution tailored to meet the needs and requirements of the particular client. Since such a system will reflect the features of one and only one company, it’ll be unique. The process of custom software development may take a long time. Here, the lion’s share of efforts will be dedicated to diving into the client’s business specifics and understanding what final product they expect to end up with and what functions it should perform.

Off-the-shelf software can be considered a universal solution for any business. In other words, ready-made software is a mass-market product created for millions of users with similar demands. To start using it, a client needs only to pay for the license, which can easily be prolonged. Such a system provides access to a predefined set of functions and can be slightly customized if necessary.

Build What You Want the Way You Wand. Custom Software Development Pros

Custom solutions are built specifically for you. When you choose bespoke software development, dedicated specialists will explore your business specifics and help you formulate the requirements. Developers will build the new system following the gathered information, so as a result, you will gain a product that will work as you expect. All in all, custom software development guarantees the availability of the requested features and the absence of unnecessary functionality that can overload the system and make the user interface less intuitive.

Custom apps are fully scalable and flexible. Over time, your business expands. You acquire new employees and launch new ambitious projects. You may need additional features to handle the increased volume of work. Or some functions have no practical use in your work. With the custom app, you will not face any issues caused by software customization. Vendors can add new functionality anytime and remove obsolete features effortlessly.

Improved security. With the increasing role of high technologies in our lives, the risks related to cyber attacks also go up. This issue may be severe if you work with sensitive data and personal information. Primarily, cybercriminals are focusing on off-the-shelf solutions that have millions of users all over the world. Due to this factor, such systems are in the high-risk zone compared to fully custom software designed for only one company.

You can select the development environment. If you have any preferences, you can choose a particular tech stack for your custom software system to be written with. For example, consider such aspects as following support and maintenance if you plan to handle them on your own without engaging third-party companies. The freedom to choose what development tools will be used for building your application can help reduce development time. Such JavaScript libraries like Webix allows building UI elements faster without sacrificing the overall product quality.

There are plenty of companies offering custom software development services. Thanks to many companies that develop bespoke software, you can choose the one you find the most appropriate, even if you’re the pickiest person on Earth. Just perform a little research to ensure it is a reputable company with relevant experience.

You can discuss your future bespoke software solution with the software development company. At XB Software, we help our clients identify their problems and develop a solution that meets their specific needs. After the analysis is done, we provide our customers with a rough estimate of the cost. After client confirmation, we work on a full specification and calculate the final price.

Everything Has Its Price. Main Pitfalls of Custom Software

High initial costs. Despite the apparent advantages of bespoke software, not all companies can afford to invest in building a custom application, especially considering that you must pay for the whole development process from start to finish, unlike in the case of off-the-shelf systems where you can pay for the license monthly.

Read also How to Estimate Custom Software Development Cost?

Time required for the development. Gathering all the requirements, developing the app, and testing it are the software development phases that require much time.

Maintenance issues are not necessarily something you’ll face if you choose a custom solution, but it requires due diligence. It’s common when previously undetected software bugs appear after the product launch. Even if it’s not your case, adding new functionality is vital if you want your app to remain relevant. Therefore, you must ensure that the custom software development company you want to cooperate with will be a better choice than a prominent market player providing ready-to-use software in terms of maintenance.

Easy to Adopt Solutions. Main Advantages of Off-the-shelf Solutions

Off-the-shelf software is available instantly. Especially if we speak about web-based applications that don’t require installation, all you need to do is to pay for the subscription, and you’re ready to use the software via your web browser.

Ease of choice is another advantage of such applications. There’s no need to go through a deep analysis of your business, formulation of requirements, software development, and testing. You can visit a vendor’s website to see the list of provided features. If most of them correspond to the business issues that don’t allow you to achieve your goals, you’ll probably find a use for such an app.

The lower initial cost is essential for those who count every penny. Off-the-shelf solutions are mass-produced, and all copies of the application are identical. Here, vendors don’t spend time configuring each app for each customer, making them more affordable than custom solutions. In this case, the pricing mechanism works the same way as in factory-made and handmade furniture, for example. Mass-produced items may only suit you partially in shape and color, but purchasing them is cheaper than ordering the work of an experienced carpenter.

You Pay for Convenience With Your Control Over the App. Disadvantages of Off-the-shelf Software

A less competitive advantage is the price you have to pay for choosing off-the-shelf apps. The reason is simple. If you use the same software solution as your competitors, you can’t outplay them by technological means. Multiple factors still determine whether you can outsmart other companies, but the software you use won’t be one of them.

Worst flexibility. In the case of off-the-shelf software, you don’t have complete control over how the solution looks and feels, what it’s made of, and how it’ll react to business changes. All these and many other aspects are fully controlled by the vendor designing and building the software. Therefore, adjusting some functionalities such apps provide will remain an unattainable dream. Do you want a missing feature? Wait for updates. Do you want to scale up your business, but the app doesn’t meet new requirements? Wait for updates or modify the workflow, so your approach is consistent with the toolset you use.

Possible compatibility issues are most important for those who use outdated applications and don’t want to invest in software modernization for some reason. There’s always the chance that a vendor will implement backward compatibility with outdated but popular database management systems, for example. The question is, will your solution present in such a list?


Choosing between a custom solution and an off-the-shelf app can become a real challenge. Both options have their advantages and pitfalls. Therefore, it’s necessary to evaluate your business aspects and plans for the future, to make an informed decision. Custom-made software is a more optimal and effective solution from the long-term perspective, and your investments in its development will be paid back eventually.

Please contact us if you are looking for a reliable vendor with enough experience to turn your idea into a comprehensive software solution. We are always open to a dialogue.