Written on 11th May 2022 - 3 minutes

Custom Software vs Commercial off the shelf software (COTS) or Software as a Service (SAAS)

Custom Software vs Commercial off the shelf software - blog cover

At Software Solved we pride ourselves on offering custom software development, created with the individual customer in mind. Built through a collaboration of ideas, with business goals in mind, we help create custom software that target specific problems to create solutions.

We feel that custom software development is the smart long-term investment, but if you need any more detail, we’ve drawn up the benefits and drawbacks of custom software development vs commercial off the shelf or SAAS.

Custom Software Development Benefits:

  • Designed for you: This software is designed specifically to meet all of your business needs. It is optimised for you. Because of this it’s more efficient and so the team will work more productively. The increased productivity will give you a competitive advantage.
  • Scalable: it is designed to be used as your business grows without the extra costs
  • Ownership: You’re in the driving seat. If you want an extra functionality added in, you can do it. If the server goes down, it’s your own IT department that you call on to fix it. You’re in control
  • Rights: You have the option to own the rights to the Intellectual Property, so protecting it against copyright and it becomes a financial asset to the company.
  • Support: Support comes directly from the developers who created it, they know this piece of software inside out and so can provide support efficiently.
  • Security: You have total control over the security and confidentiality as there’s no passing of data to a third party.
  • Integration: Because it has been created for your company, a systems health check would have been delivered leaving you safe in the knowledge that all other software systems have been reviewed and are compatible.

Custom Software Development Downsides:

  • High Cost: Developing software specific to you can be expensive and the expense is required upfront.
  • Long Leadtime: The system has to be designed, developed and tested before implementation, so it will take longer before it’s up and running.
  • Maintainability: You will have to either maintain the system yourself, or find contractors who are willing to do this for you (at a cost). Maintenance can vary anywhere from applying security patches, to developing brand new features which have been requested by the user-base

Custom vs off the shelf - graphic

COTS/SAAS Benefits:

  • Low Cost: SAAS means you’ll pay per user so this makes it cheaper to implement.
  • Scalable: As your business grows, you can just keep on adding more users. Likewise, when you need to pull back and reign in the costs, you can.
  • Short Leadtime: COTS and SAAS are quick to implement, it’s an out-of-the-box product so you can be ready to go once its installed and configured.
  • Easy to Upgrade: it’s easy to upgrade, the providers should be upgrading the software on a regular basis.
  • Proven Tech: This software has been tested, developed and rolled out many time previous, it’s all proven enabling you to be able to get on with your job.
  • Security: Security is managed externally so there’s no security breach or data management concerns that you have to deal with.

COTS/SAAS Downsides:

  • Increasing Cost: As the business grows, so more users will need to use it, meaning that the once low monthly costs start to increase accordingly.
  • Extra costs: ‘Add-ons’ to the software may incur more fees (and may not be customisable).
  • Functionality: This software is not designed with your business in mind, so it may be that some functionalities that are missing/not required. This means that you’re paying something that isn’t as productive as it could be.
  • Security: SAAS requires you to share data with your provider which may give you cause for concern. Data hacks and breaches can also happen, although generally these companies provide an excellent standard of security.
  • Integration: As the software hasn’t been developed with your current systems in mind, there’s no knowing if it is compatible.
  • Lack of Control: SAAS means that you have no control over business-critical functions, if the server goes down or there’s a data breach, these are issues which you can’t influence or change and you will have to wait for the provider to fix them.

If you would like any help with your custom software requirements, then please do get in touch.

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