Off the Shelf vs Custom Software – 7 Things to Consider

If you've identified the need for some software to help you improve your processes, increase efficiencies or enhance your customers’ experiences, one of the first questions you'll probably ask yourself is ‘is there something already out there that will fit the bill?’

September 28, 2021
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Bridie Letford

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If you've identified the need for some software to help you improve your processes, increase efficiencies or enhance your customers’ experiences, one of the first questions you'll probably ask yourself is ‘is there something already out there that will fit the bill?’. This is what we call off the shelf. 

Off the shelf, where you adopt an already developed solution is often cheaper than custom software development, where we build a solution specifically for you, to meet your exact requirements. When making the decision to go with off the shelf, or with custom software, it's important to consider: 

  • How unique is your business, and the problem you're trying to solve? 

  • What exactly is the problem you're trying to solve, or the opportunity you're trying to take advantage of? 

  • What is available in market that might need your needs? 

  • Which of your needs will an off the shelf solution be unable to meet, and how important are those needs? 

  • How much control do you need to change the solution on an ongoing basis? 

  • What are the associated licencing costs for the off the shelf solution? 

  • Roughly how much you can expect to spend on a custom software solution.


This can all seem very overwhelming (particularly if you're not in IT). It's the role of our Business Analysts to work through these high-level questions with you, to help you understand if a 
custom software solution is going to best meet your needs. We do this using a number of tools, and engaging your team to ensure we understand your requirements as clearly as possible. We also engage our Senior Developers to help us assess where a hybrid solution might be best and identify any integrations that need to be considered. 

We do all of this at the analysis stage of the project, the outcome of this stage is generally a series of documents outlining how your future systems architecture may look. Unlike with some providers, you then own this document, we welcome you to seek a second opinion or quote from another provider. If you would like to know more about how we can help with both off the shelf and custom software solutions, feel free to get in touch.