Bespoke is another name for custom-made in the software world. It is a solution designed and developed specifically for one company to fit its needs completely. In this article, you’ll find all about bespoke business software development, what it entails, how it is different from off-the-shelf solutions, and what are the pros and cons of both options.
What is Bespoke Software Exactly?
Bespoke software is a unique solution created for one client. It can be anything, from a website or mobile app to a custom CRM system. The exact needs depend on each company, so bespoke software development is based on the company’s unique experience and user cases. It fits like a glove because it was made for you.
It focuses both on internal processes and operations and the end clients as well. For example, if you need a truly unique mobile application to provide the best customer experience, you’ll need a credible bespoke software development company. If you need an ERP system that is integrated with all third-party solutions you use, it is also reasonable to consider custom solutions.
Overall, it is the opposite of what is called off-the-shelf solutions.
What is Off-The-Shelf Software?
It is an overall available application or tool that anyone can buy and use for their operations. It is designed for general use and therefore doesn’t suit every company. The goal here is to meet a wide audience, so it lacks specifics. It does usually cost less than a bespoke system, but if you count all the adjustments and learning curves, it might not always be the case.
Often the case, a company will have to work around the multitude of features of an off-the-shelf solution. Such systems are packed with all kinds of functions, which seems like an advantage at first. However, the majority of them will have little to no use for your specific processes and operations. And you still have to pay for them.
Another thing to remember is that the more features are there, the more complex/bulky the system is. And the more time employees will need to learn it and to work around it. Imagine if you only need 8 functions in a drop-down list, but there are 45 of them there. Every second of useless scrolling reduces productivity.
Advantages of Bespoke Software
As for bespoke software development services, there are plenty of benefits. Here are just the main ones to keep in mind:
- It is a tailor-made solution that fits all your needs, goals, and operations. It also integrates seamlessly with any other systems and networks you already have;
- Because it is created with your business in mind, it boosts productivity, automation, and productivity. You decide what features you need and what processes should be optimized;
- It can be as unique as you want to and can have functionality that is just unavailable in off the shelf solutions;
- There is nothing useless or bulky in there, so there is little learning curve and accessibility to employees and end customers;
- You make decisions on all factors such as hosting, cloud platform, security, reporting, performance, analytical metrics, etc.
- You own the source code, which dramatically increases security. Often case hackers go for off-the-shelf tools because they are used by many companies, so their attack can target several. Or because the source code is open-source and available for anyone to see. By working with a bespoke software development agency, you are sure to own the code and secure it from anyone else;
- It allows standing out of the competition and offers a truly unique and personalized customer experience. As a result, it increases retention, sales, and satisfaction of clients. It offers higher ROI, flexibility, scalability, and competitive advantage.
What is bespoke software development in a nutshell? It is an opportunity to have full control of the solution and to create something original and authentic.
Disadvantages of Bespoke Software
As in any other case, there are certain cons to anything, and custom software is no exception. These are:
- Costs. Such development costs more than buying the off-the-shelf product. It is fair as you get something much more fitting, but for some businesses, budget is crucial;
- Time. From gathering requirements and studying business processes to deployment, it is going to take longer to create it than just go with ready-to-use things.
- Support. You’ll need support for maintenance and updates.
Advantages of Off the Shelf Software
It would not be fair to not list the benefits out-of-the-box solutions offer. These are:
- The starting cost is usually lower, which is important for many;
- It takes less time as it is all ready to deploy;
- The additional functionality may be useful in the future when the company expands;
- The popularity of the solution ensures good customer support, constant updates, and fast response. And it might offer some advanced technology, for example, incorporation of AI or Big Data;
It is a quick fit that works well for some businesses, especially if they do not have particular operations or integrations needed.
Disadvantages of Off-the-Shelf Software
Some of the drawbacks were already mentioned above. It is a generic solution that will probably not meet all of your business needs. In such a case, a business can go for customization and adjustments, but it also adds to the price and time needed.
There will be a lot of functionality you do not need. Or there will be features that you do need, but they do not work as you want them to. The more adjustments the system needs, the more the budget grows.
Often you might need to work around it and create your own business processes. But there are limitations, which will make it harder. Data migration from one system to another might also be challenging, especially when you need to convert it.
The security is lower in the ready-made options than in those with original code since you have control over it. And a company is not in full control of integrations, platforms, hosting, etc.
Bespoke or Off-the-Shelf: What to Choose?
Of course, every company is unique and has its requirements and resources. Some will be just fine with off-the-shelf solutions. But in many cases, it is reasonable to opt for bespoke development.
For example, if you want to create something unique and innovative with a competitive edge. Or if there is no off-the-shelf solution out there that fits all your needs. Or maybe you need a lot of customization and integrations, so it doesn’t make sense to work around something instead of creating your own product.
To make the final decision, answer these questions:
- How much money is your company willing to spend on this project?
- How much time are you fine to devote to it?
- Are there ready-to-use solutions that satisfy your needs?
- Do you need an original thing that incorporates the brand identity?
Evaluate the processes and operations involved and how they can be automated.
Generally, something tailor-made is often considered better. Simply because it is an authentic, original, and innovative product created for you. However, it might not be the best choice for everyone since the budget differs for every business. To make an informed decision, look into existing systems and bespoke development services offers. Based on this information, prioritize what matters the most to your company at the present stage.