Should You Invest in Custom Software or Buy Ready-Made Software? 

COTS written on paper
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When looking to solve a unique problem in your business, one of the first questions that comes to mind is:

Should we build or buy this solution?

This is a common question for business owners who want to expand in any way, whether it’s to build a new space for an additional location vs renting one, hire more employees vs promoting your current ones, or invest in custom software to increase efficiency and boost your revenue.

When it comes to investing in a software solution, you’re given two options to start: buy a ready-made, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) program or hire a developer to create a custom solution.

Due to the size of the investment and the importance of the end goal, this is a path that must be chosen wisely. Make the wrong choice, and you’ll be writing it off as a loss rather than frolicking around in your ROI.

To help you make this decision, we’re going to break down the key differences between buying COTS software and hiring someone to build your own.

Buying COTS software

Ready-made software is developed to solve common problems that most business owners face. It typically includes an abundance of features in order to reach the widest market attainable. Some examples include tools like Microsoft Office and Zoom, which can be used throughout a variety of business processes and industries.

This type of software is great if you’re looking for small scale solutions to simple problems, like using Zoom to communicate with remote employees. But too many features can intimidate and confuse some consumers.

Ready-made software is not made to solve unique and complex problems. Because of this, it’s often pretty affordable and sold on a subscription basis. If you’re not tech-savvy, expect to spend a bit of time setting up and configuring COTS software.  

Building custom software

Complex issues for special industries require complex solutions. Are you struggling with specific problems like decreased productivity and output, project delays, payroll problems, production mistakes, or an inability to scale and grow?

These problems are some of the biggest sources of leaky revenue. A custom software developer can take these unique circumstances, requirements, and specifications, and craft the ultimate problem-solving, money-saving machine.

One of the biggest perks of custom software is the fact that it can be developed with future changes in mind, meaning that it’s easily adaptable to any enhanced features you may add later on. This is made possible because it’s created by a team that’s done copious research to understand your unique problems and business model.

When you invest in custom software, you’ll only pay for exactly what you need–not random features that aren’t even relevant to your industry. If you need an immediate overnight solution, however, custom software should be ruled out.

All in all, the choice to buy or build comes down to your unique needs, time, and budget. Before you make your final decision, ask yourself the following:

  • How soon do you need your solution, and how long do you expect to use it?

  • What are other customers in your position saying about the product?

  • After adding maintenance, support, licensing, and setup fees, how much does each option cost?

  • Will the product solve my problem entirely?

Choosing a software solution is not a decision to be taken lightly. You need to carefully evaluate each available option before pulling the trigger.  

If you’re looking to invest in custom software, we invite you to schedule a free workflow consultation with Bizzuka. During this consultation, we’ll evaluate your business processes to determine whether custom or COTS software is right for you.

At Bizzuka, we’ve successfully executed millions of dollars’ worth of custom software projects in our 20 years of business. We help businesses like yours save money on custom application development and achieve an ROI in the process. Check out how we helped one company save over $100,000 in the first six months