Let’s begin with a quick comparison of bespoke software services with car showrooms. Imagine a good full-packed Range Rover which stands right in the center of a hall and impresses clients. Managers try to sell this monster but you need a tiny Smart which costs several times less. Or imagine another picture: you enter a showroom but all cars there are without the fourth wheel. Obviously, they can’t even ride!
What’s the idea, you may ask? Software applications are cars and development companies are showrooms, in this case. Sometimes, businessmen need one small program to complete specific tasks like accounting or fleet management but vendors offer only costly packages for large enterprises. Simultaneously, big brands often require complex products which cover each and every business process. Traditional premade apps can hardly cover these requirements.
Our development team builds products from scratch for various industries. However, partners often don’t have a clear vision of differences between bespoke and ready-made solutions. This article covers key advantages and disadvantages of bespoke software development services in comparison with off-the-shelf packages. Use it as a starting point if you want to order a program but don’t know which type is the best one.
Introducing development approaches
The software must be created by someone, it’s clear. But different developers work under different conditions and focus on different methods. We’re not talking about project planning and strategies like Agile or Waterfall but want to reveal more global approaches. Ultimately, there are only two visions which depend on the development type: custom software specially designed for some company or user and commercial off-the-shelf software (COTS) created once and then adapted for different customers. Further, we will look at these approaches in details.
Generic and custom software differences
Put simply, it’s easy to recognize these two types because they have a few distinctive features. Once revealed, they will always help you to identify application types. These features are as follows:
- Functions. COTS comes with predefined features regardless of the software buyer’s needs or requirements. It’s possible to choose between different packages but they are still limited and pretty similar. Instead, custom apps are made from scratch and feature everything a given client wants. Thus, they provide a higher competitive market advantage.
- Updates. Off-the-shelf apps are easier to upgrade because they all have a similar structure when we talk about the products of a certain company. However, developers aren’t bound by comprehensive contracts and can skip updates for a long time. Custom authors must meet predefined requirements, so they deliver on-time updates and support.
- Costs. Talking about time and money, you will get your prepackaged solution faster and for the lower initial price. But always remember about extra fees for upgrades, maintenance, customization, etc. Bespoke services take more time to be designed and launched. Plus, they often cost more. Still, you will rarely see any additional fees.
Thus, the main idea is that off-the-shelf software includes ready products with pretty low customization options while bespoke software services are fully custom and unique. Both types have pros and cons but further we will focus on tailor-made solutions because we’re sure that they suit various business needs much better than premade alternatives.
Ready-made software examples
To understand the idea of development rivalry, you can take a look at examples of different applications. Off-the-shelf software serves various needs in all industries but the most popular sectors are these:
- Antiviruses: Dr.Web, McAfee.
- Databases: Oracle, Sybase.
- GUIs and toolkits: Motif, Unity.
- Operating systems: Mac, Windows.
Techopedia also mentions Microsoft Office and antivirus programs as typical examples of COTS. Thus, the average ready-made application is focused on a wide audience, delivers traditional demanded functions like text editing or software protection, and features subscription-based payments.
Bespoke software examples
Similarly, custom applications are presented in all spheres which utilize the software. They don’t have any more or less popular sectors because each company can order a bespoke solution and benefit from it. Thus, let’s look at the brightest examples:
- Airbnb: the leading platform for shared accommodation (source: First Round Review).
- EA: a custom gaming engine Frostbite for dozens of AAA titles (source: EA).
- Google: the team uses custom apps and helps other devs build them (source: Google).
- McDonald’s: programs for self-service terminals around the world (source: Forbes).
- Netflix: the giant of video streaming is built from scratch (source: Netflix TechBlog).
As you see, there are a lot of famous names on the list. It doesn’t mean that you have to opt for bespoke software services if you’re going to reshape the industry. Just remember that customers always appreciate new and unique offerings for which you may need equally-unique software.
It’s difficult to define how traditional tailored products look as they vary depending on the industry and customer requirements. Probably, this difference is the most iconic feature of such applications.
Choosing a specific development type
Basing on bespoke software advantages and disadvantages plus pros and cons of COTS, we can define when it’s better to implement a ready-made app and when custom solutions will be more efficient. Exact strengths and weaknesses of each type we will review in the next sections. For now, let’s focus on the selection process. Mostly, it rests on one or more of the next factors:
- Finances. At the end of the day, it all comes to the budget. Tailored software has higher upfront costs but also potentially higher ROI. With ready apps, you should consider various extra payments during the project development.
- Uniqueness. Any unusual requirements and preferences almost always mean that you should opt for bespoke software. Traditional restaurants can use COTS while blockchain-based food delivery system will benefit more from custom apps.
- Scope. As a rule, big companies should get custom software with personalized functions for all departments. Small teams also can get these products if they can’t find minimalistic cheap packages of COTS. Otherwise, ready-made applications are good.
- Supplier. The development partner is extremely important. Basically, if you aren’t sure that the company will be stable in a few years, better avoid it. In this case, custom devs are better as they don’t rely on a single specific product.
- Time. Finally, consider scheduling. For projects which should be deployed quickly, be sure to get a ready package as authors don’t require a lot of time to install it. Wherein, custom solutions may take up to several years depending on the scope.
The list isn’t exhaustive as you can find more factors which affect the final decision. Still, we suggest focusing on key business processes.
Bespoke software: Advantages and disadvantages
Here we are: meet the key pros and cons of customized solutions for different industries. The survey by GoodFirms reveals that the most critical development challenge is a difficult adaptation to changing requirements of clients (53.8% of respondents mentioned it). With custom apps, this problem almost disappears because developers discuss preferences regularly and make necessary changes on-the-go.
Thus, the first and the most important advantage is obvious as custom applications are created from scratch and tailored to your needs uniquely. But what about other strengths and drawbacks which can affect your business operations? Let’s find out.
- High scalability. It’s easy to predict the future needs of the business and include them in the development contract. Thus, you will have enough space for upgrades.
- Iterative development. Using Agile technologies, devs get feedback and make necessary changes regularly – each week or every two weeks.
- Better profitability. Because of zero or pretty low fees and better suitability, custom programs have high ROI. Surely, it also depends on the development plan.
- Various extra services. Custom teams deliver not only products but various bespoke software services like support for tech systems, employees, and end users.
- Powerful security. Because of unique architecture and structure, tailored applications are better protected. Hackers must target their attacks to get results.
- High upfront costs. Because initial contracts include nearly all the possible expenses, you should be ready for high first payments.
- Relatively long time to market. It depends on the scope. Big software products feature long development and deployment because of a high number of functions.
- Lack of best practices. COTS is based on traditional approaches while bespoke solutions don’t have them and, respectively, don’t have guarantees of success.
The list of bespoke software development services
Okay, it’s clear how the development can help you. Usually, vendors of software deliver applications only and don’t pay too high attention to other stuff. Unlike COTS, custom products feature more personalized strategy, so companies behind this software try to deliver as many extra options as possible.
In DICEUS, we also focus on the 360° experience. Acting as a technological partner, our company helps clients all along the development road beginning with analytical services and ending with the continuous expansion of bespoke software services. In precise, there are a few key stages of the custom SDLC:
- Discussing needs. We handle market research to propose the best software package for your team. Surely, we consider all the wishes of the stakeholders.
- Agile development. We also continue taking care of changes during the development itself. Feel free to ask for modifications.
- QA and testing. Before the launch, our testing engineers check all systems, find and fix bugs, try different working programs, and test software under the load.
- Product integration. Finally, the team delivers the product, installs it, and connects to existing systems. Both hosted and SaaS options are available.
- Support and maintenance. To keep the users’/employees’ satisfaction on the highest level, we also handle 24/7 support including tech fixes and interaction with clients.
- Modernization and upgrades. With 3R approach (Rewrite, Replace, Reuse), our experts modernize legacy code or create innovative systems with the same functions.
Hence, our company creates exclusive applications with a perfect market advantage. We don’t list hourly rates because we realize that time is the most valuable resource. Our costs are quote-based only, so you can be sure that the product will be delivered just in time. You can order one or all bespoke software development services from our team as well as ignore them and opt for the product only. Every case is unique, so let’s discuss!
This traditional section reveals popular questions and answers. Partially, it duplicates information revealed earlier but keep calm and take your time to refresh key points. The FAQ page was written to quickly conclude the most important points.
What is bespoke software, what are it’s advantages and disadvantages?
It’s a software type which includes all programs created from scratch for a certain client. The main advantage is its uniqueness and related advantage over competitors available because of custom sets of features. Custom software also has better scalability and profitability. Simultaneously, it features higher first costs and time expenses.
How custom software is different from premade apps?
The main difference is related to the development process. Off-the-shelf software is created once for all while bespoke alternatives are exclusive. Vendors of ready apps list several packages but they still have poor customization options. Basically, with custom software, you can get anything you want. Instead, premade devs deliver only what they can.
What are the main custom-written software examples?
Nearly all industries and businesses have one or another example of bespoke application. Google and Uber, Airbnb and KFC, EA and Teambase – all these teams have customized solutions integrated into their business processes. Strictly speaking, all the code written for a specific project can be considered custom software.
Which costs should be considered during development?
Basically, you should remember about finances and time. Prior to ordering, make a proper plan and set a budget to find out which expenses you will face. Firstly, include initial software costs, direct losses during development, indirect expenses related to performance dip, and extra fees for support. Additionally, set the longest frames possible.
Which custom developers are the best?
It depends on your needs, obviously. First and foremost, you should look for teams which have enough experts dedicated to your field. If you want to get an ERP or a product built with Python only, search for development teams specialized at enterprise software or Python, respectively. Also, check reviews and the company’s experience.
Bespoke software from our team
We’re proud to develop software solutions for different clients including large multinational banks, insurance brands, and consulting firms. We handle various development challenges for different market sectors and tech directions. Thanks to free consultations, you have a great opportunity to discuss the needs of your business with our experts and find a reliable partner for your next big project. So, what’re you waiting for?