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Custom Software Development (also known as bespoke software or tailor-made software) is software that is specially developed for some specific organization or other user. As such, it can be contrasted with the use of software packages developed for the mass market, such as commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software, or existing free software.
Since custom software is developed for a single customer it can accommodate that customer’s particular preferences and expectations. Custom software may be developed in an iterative processes, allowing all nuances and possible hidden risks to be taken into account, including issues which were not mentioned in the original requirement specifications (which are, as a rule, never perfect). In particular, the first phase in the software development process may involve many departments, including marketing, engineering, research and development and general management.
Large companies commonly use custom software for critical functions, including content management, inventory management, customer management, human resource management, or otherwise to fill the gaps present in the existing software packages. Often such software is legacy software, developed before COTS or free software packages offering the required functionality became available.
Custom software development is often considered expensive compared to off-the-shelf solutions or products. This can be true if one is speaking of typical challenges and typical solutions. However, it is not always true. In many cases, COTS software requires customization to correctly support the buyer’s operations. The cost and delay of COTS customization can even add up to the expense of developing custom software. Cost is not the only consideration however, as the decision to opt for custom software often includes the requirement for the purchaser to own the source code, to secure the possibility of future development or modifications to the installed system.
Additionally, COTS comes with upfront license costs which vary enormously, but sometimes run into the millions (in terms of dollars). Furthermore, the big software houses that release COTS products revamp their product very frequently. Thus a particular customization may need to be upgraded for compatibility every two to four years. Given the cost of customization, such upgrades also turn out to be expensive, as a dedicated product release cycle will have to be earmarked for them.
The decision to build a custom software or go for a COTS implementation would usually rest on one or more of the following factors:
Finances – both cost and benefit: The upfront license cost for COTS products mean that a thorough cost-benefit analysis of the business case needs to be done. However it is widely known that large custom software projects cannot fix all three of scope, time/cost and quality constant, so either the cost or the benefits of a custom software project will be subject to some degree of uncertainty – even disregarding the uncertainty around the business benefits of a feature that is successfully implemented. Software Your way works with your budget to provide cost effective solutions.
Supplier – In the case of COTS, is the supplier likely to remain in business long, and will there be adequate support and customization available? Alternatively, will there be a realistic possibility of getting support and customization from third parties? In the case of custom software development, the software development may be outsourced or done in-house. If it is outsourced, the question is: is the supplier reputable, and do they have a good track record? Software Your Way has services over 10,000 clients since 2002. We are here to stay and develop custom software.
Time to market: COTS products usually have a quicker time to market howver the Custom software can be developed in phase so it is possible the start time can be less.
Size of implementation: COTS comes with standardization of business processes and reporting. For a global or national organisation, these can bring in gains in cost savings, efficiency and productivity, if the branch offices are all willing and able to use the same COTS without heavy customization (which is not always a given). However custom software development allows agility and change. This is good for the current global economy.
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