Build vs. Buy

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One of the biggest decisions you face as a business owner is whether to purchase off-the-shelf software solutions or develop a bespoke application. This decision typically doesn’t boil down to an easy answer as both custom software and off-the-shelf solutions offer particular benefits to you and your business. This article is intended to compare having a custom software package built for you and trying to make do with off-the-shelf systems.

Why Invest in Custom Software?

Custom software provides a variety of benefits that can greatly improve the productivity of your business and provide a competitive edge against your competition. Bespoke software is catered to your business in particular and satisfy your unique business needs. Here is a look at why one would invest in a custom software solution rather than buy a canned product.

    1. Custom software does exactly what you need it to do.

        A software solution that is catered to your company’s needs will contain little functionality that you don’t need. Likewise, it will have all the functionality that your business does need.  Removing unwanted functionality decreases the amount of time sifting through features just to complete simple tasks. On a the same note, the software will actually do what you need it to do. Off-the-shelf software often falls short in this department and you end up buying more software, or inventing clever hacks, to compensate for the lack of functionality.

    2. Custom software offers you the competitive advantage.

        Custom software can help to streamline and optimize your business processes. This is due to the increased ability to train new employees to use your custom software and because your software will only have the functionality your business requires.

    3. Custom software increases productivity.

         Again your custom software will have just what you need. This will improve the productivity of your employees by eliminating the fumble through unnecessary features while trying to find the features they need. Similarly, if you use more than one software packages for everyday activities a custom solution can incorporate all of this into a single software package, eliminating context switching.

    4. Custom software increases reaction time and decreases pivot time.

        Your maintenance team can quickly modify your custom software. This allows your business to react to changes in the market or change the direction of your business altogether. Your maintenance team (hopefully HyTex Software) can completely refactor your software to allow for this changes.

    5. Custom software will scale with your business.

         So your business is growing faster than ever? That’s great! Your software can grow with it. You’ll already have a development team that can refactor your current software or create all new software solutions for your growing business.

OK, that all sounds great, but there must be a downside. There absolutely is. As with everything, building a custom software solution comes with a trade-off. Here are a few cons of purchasing your own custom software.

    1. Building your own software is expensive.

        Hiring a software development team or a consultant costs money. Engineering software is no small task, so the development of custom software tends to be expensive. However, the return on investment of a custom software package can be very substantial.

    2. The software must be maintained.

        Changes in the marketplace or a pivot performed by your company will require your software be maintained so that it can change and grow with your business. The maintenance can be included in your software development contract if you chose HyTex’s “Long-Term Contract” business model, which will save you money in the long run.

    3. Building custom software is time consuming

        Developing your software can take a substantial amount of time, depending on scope. Although we will be developing the software at full speed, the entire process can be very time consuming.

When Should I Purchase an Off-the-Shelf Solution?

So now you know a few pros and cons of developing a custom software package, but then why would there be canned solutions? It just so happens that under certain circumstances off-the-shelf solutions are the perfect fit for your business.

Pros:

    1. No Time

        Some business simply don’t have the time. They need software right away in order to get the business going. These business may still need a custom solution but the purchase of an off-the-shelf solution is recommended to get your business off the ground rather than waiting around for a custom solution.

    2. No Money

        As previously mentioned custom software is expensive! For some companies, especially startups or other businesses with limited capital, an entire software solution is too expensive. In these cases a mobile app and/or a website are still extremely useful for connecting to existing and potential customers.

    3. Great solutions already exist

        In some situations the perfect solution for your business is out there already. Many companies specialize software for a particular industry. Your business needs may be completely satisfied with these off-the-shelf solutions.

    4. Technology wouldn’t provide you a competitive edge

         In some cases having the best software solution won’t place you above and beyond your competitors. Consider the retail industry, the majority of the time in your store is probably not spent working with software so an expensive solution may not suit you. However, mobile and web applications that interact with other software elements, such as your Point-of-Sale system, may greatly improve your business.

So What Should I do?

That depends entirely on your situation. Maybe you use multiple software packages for different functionality, you could create your own software to include all of this functionality, thus reducing the software your company needs and increasing efficiency. On the other hand you may be starting a new business and need certain software to get your business off the ground, in this case you should purchase off-the-shelf solutions and keep HyTex in mind for when you’re ready to build your own software.

All in all the decision between choosing custom software or off-the-shelf solutions is very difficult and should be thoroughly analyzed. The free consultation with HyTex will encompass all this. We will provide answers to any questions you have about the process, timeline, price, etc. We want our clients to be satisfied. Therefore, we will not try to sell custom software that your business doesn’t need. Our experienced staff can also help in finding the perfect off-the-shelf solution if that’s what best suits your needs.

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