Application software is mainly classified under two main categories, namely custom written software and off-the-shelf software. Custom software development is the designing of software for a specific user group, more commonly for use within an organisation.
Custom software is designed in a way that it meets the needs very accurately as compared to off-the-shelf software’s generic way. Typically custom software is developed by a third party software development company or an in-house development team and these softwares are generally not intended for reselling.
Off-the-shelf software consists of a packaged software available to a large audience with varying, albeit fundamentally similar needs. A very common example of off-the-shelf software is MS Office. MS Office is used by businesses all over the world; it is used in hospitals, offices, schools and even in our own homes. The product is designed for a large mass of people and not for any specific entity.
Customized software development is the process of developing and release of the software tailored to the needs of a specific entity. For example, major corporate companies have their own softwares which are specific only to their organisation and department for which it is designed. This may be an application software for specific needs like consumer management, project management, HR management and project needs etc. Therefore the software is designed in accordance with the company infrastructure, branding and implementation in mind.
All the organisations needs cannot be satisfied by off-the-shelf software. Every organisation works differently, hence the needs are also different. Custom made software provides a lot of specific functionalities as it is made in accordance with the needs of the organisation. This will definitely increase the ease of work and improve productivity.
If a software application is developed to address an internal need, the cost of it will be recovered through increased efficiency. The system will return profit in the long run along with increased productivity. If your organisation has an internal needs which cannot be addressed by an off-the-shelf application, then a custom software is a smart option.
Purchasing an off-the-shelf software costs you much less than developing a custom software in-house. It involves a lot of risks. Custom software development requires a huge investment and a dedicated software development team. The cost alone can be hefty. Off-the-shelf software can afford a hefty price point as it is sold to different users, but custom software is created for one user. The software is not intended for sale and you cannot profit any money from it. The value it gives your business will be based on the productivity and efficiency improvement. Any design flaws or inconsistency leads to huge loss.
The development also should consider inclusions of future changes in the needs of the organisation. Such changes when incorporated in to the software will invite chaos. The project may lose its scope and may end up with a product not suitable to the actual needs. Hence more often custom software development is outsourced to a third party who provides software developing services.
Choosing a company to create your software for business is not an easy task. When you outsource your work, you must consider picking the company that promises the right level of services at the right price. These companies typically meet with the requesting organisation to assess the needs and determine the total amount of work required to develop the software.
They then put in a proposal on how much development time is required and the cost associated. This may change over time with changing needs from the organisation. Picking a software development company should never be based on money, but should instead be based on the flexibility and willingness to work with the business.