Blog Image

Custom written software vs off-the-shelf: which is best?

When it comes to selecting software, it can be difficult to decide which is the best option for your business. Should you choose custom written software or an off-the-shelf product? While both solutions offer advantages and disadvantages, it’s important to consider each carefully in order to make an informed decision. Let’s look at the pros and cons of both custom written software and off-the-shelf software


The first option is custom written software. This type of bespoke software is developed specifically for your business, taking into account all of the unique requirements you have. The main advantage of this solution is that the end product will fit exactly with what your business needs — no more, no less. Generally speaking, custom written software requires a larger upfront investment but offers more control over the entire process from start to finish. This allows you to get exactly what you need without having any unnecessary features or functions cluttering up the system.

We’ll discuss the benefits of custom written software in some more detail below.


As technology evolves, so too does the need for custom written software solutions. Unlike off-the-shelf products, custom written software is tailored to meet the specific needs of your business. It can help you save time and money, increase productivity, and make it easier to stay competitive in an ever-changing market. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of custom software development.

Increased efficiency

Custom written software can help streamline your processes and ensure that all tasks are done quickly and efficiently. It can reduce manual labour by automating mundane tasks, freeing up more time for productive work. And because it was designed with your unique workflow in mind, it will be optimised to fit into your existing process instead of forcing you to adjust your workflow to accommodate third party software. This means less time wasted trying to figure out how something works or troubleshooting issues caused by incompatible programs or hardware configurations. 

Lower costs

Although custom software may appear more costly due to a higher upfront investment, off-the-shelf alternatives are arguably more expensive. There’s the cost of the software itself, and ongoing maintenance fees—not to mention the cost associated with training staff and ensuring compatibility with other systems. Custom written software eliminates these costs because it’s specifically designed for you and your team’s knowledge base. It also reduces technical support costs since you’ll be dealing with a developer who knows exactly what they’re working on instead of having to explain the problem to someone unfamiliar with your system over the phone or online chat service (which can be frustrating). Plus, if any bugs are found after deployment, they can be quickly fixed without any additional costs associated with third party services or upgrades. 

Enhanced productivity

With custom written software, you will have access to features that are tailored precisely for your business needs which means that every task is completed quickly and accurately without wasting time on irrelevant features or navigating through confusing interfaces. This leads to increased productivity—meaning more work gets done in less time—which in turn leads to increased profits for your company.


Your second option is off-the-shelf software. As its name implies, this type of software comes pre-packaged and ready to use right out of the box (or download). Generally speaking, off-the shelf solutions are cheaper upfront than custom written ones because they are designed to work for a wide range of businesses and don’t require a lot of customisation or development time. However, they may not provide all the features that your business needs, leading to additional costs down the line as you try to incorporate those features into your existing system. Additionally, off-the shelf solutions often come with technical support that can help if something goes wrong but may not always be able to provide in-depth assistance with more complex issues.

We will weigh the benefits and drawbacks of off-the-shelf software so you can make an informed decision for your business.


Cheaper upfront costs

Off-the-shelf software is usually cheaper upfront. This is because it is designed for mass markets. Custom software may seem to be more costly, because it is an investment in a bespoke-made application. 

Ease of use

Off-the-shelf software is also generally easier to use than custom software. That’s because it’s designed to be used by the masses, not just a specific group of people within your company. 

Technical support

When you purchase off-the-shelf software, you also get access to customer support from the vendor. This can be helpful if you run into any problems using the software. However, with custom software, you will get much more in-depth support because your developer knows your business. 


Another benefit of off-the-shelf software is that vendors typically release regular updates with new features and bug fixes.

We will weigh the benefits and drawbacks of off-the-shelf software so you can make an informed decision for your business.


Limited functionality

One of the biggest drawbacks of off-the-shelf software is that it often doesn’t have all the features you need out of the box. Custom written software can be tailored specifically to your business needs so you don’t have to compromise on functionality. 


Another downside of off-the shelf software is that it can be inflexible when it comes to integration with other systems within your company. If you need to connect two pieces of software, it may not be possible with an off-the-shelf solution. You would likely need to purchase an entirely new system which can be quite costly. On the other hand, custom written software can be easily integrated with other systems since it’s designed specifically for your company.

Security risks 

Since off-the-shelf software is used by many different companies, it’s often a target for hackers. If a hacker gains access to one system, they could potentially gain access to many others as well. Custom built software is much less vulnerable to security risks since it’s not used by as many people.

Upgrades can be costly 

While regular updates are a good thing, they can also be costly if you have to purchase a new licence for every update.


Ultimately, it depends on your business model, budget and requirements. However, the benefits of custom written software are clear; from lower costs and enhanced productivity to increased efficiency, this type of software solution offers businesses a competitive edge over those using outdated off-the-shelf options. Whether you’re a small startup looking for an edge on the competition or an established company looking to improve efficiency, investing in custom written software could be just what you need!


We’re a software development company, so we write custom software and can assess your business requirements to help determine which type of software is best suited to your organisation. If you’ve already using software but you’re not certain whether it’s getting you the right results, then we can perform a software audit for you. Contact us to find out more.

  • Written by Simon Proctor, January 04 2023