Therefore, you’ll find an abundance of excellent resources, such as an FAQ post on the developer’s website or support forums, to help you use the product. Additionally, you can rest assured that the developer is aware of any problems you might face since their support personnel participate in forums to shape customer perception of their product. Now that we know what off-the-shelf software is, and have become acquainted with some examples, let’s learn what advantages this type of software provides. Moreover, later upgrades can come with features you need — but they may come at a cost. This is especially true if you’ve modified your software or introduced integrations that will also need to be updated. After a quick setup and implementation process, your business can be up and running with off-the-shelf software.

what is off-the-shelf software

Sometimes, these Information Management systems were developed by talented individuals who moved on to new roles, leaving the system in limbo. In other cases, a heroic M&E officer is forced to stitch together a complex mess of different tools with a generous helping of duct tape to meet urgent needs that ultimately collapse under their own weight. Making the decision between custom software and off the shelf software can be difficult. However, it is possible to make an informed decision by following a few clear-cut steps we’ve outlined in this article. You can view the search results by location, minimum project size, average hourly rate, industry focus, and more.

Custom Software

A key question to ask yourself is if the pain of your need for software is greater than the expense to offset that pain. If not, then off-the-shelf software could be a great solution. That helps development teams go-to-market faster with scalable apps that accelerate growth. As a general rule, use off the shelf software if budget is low, requirements are simple, a solution is needed immediately, or staff turnover is high. There’s a shortcut to custom software that relies on incorporating off the shelf components into a whole new product. These programs bridge gaps in functionality and resolve issues relating to a specific market.

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What’s really important is that your business leaders are aligned on the priorities – regardless of what they are. With that in mind, let’s walk through the 6-step process to help you decide. Get in touch with us, and we will gladly get back to you as soon as possible. If you need a professional team, CleverDev Software will be happy to assist you in making your vision a reality.

Excellent Support

If you are using an off the shelf software package and your competitors are also using the same software, they have the same set of tools as you (or potentially even their own custom-written software). With your competition using a similar set of software as you, you are most likely to produce the same results as your competition. This way, you are not giving yourself an opportunity to stand out. The cost of off the shelf software will appear much smaller than the custom-written software on paper.

  • Off-the-shelf software products are generic software solutions that developers release for immediate use for the mass market.
  • You do not have to pay the additional licensing fees typical of ready-made applications.
  • Knowing the benefits of developing custom-made software is essential before you can ascertain whether your business requires it.
  • It can provide you with what you need to offer benefits to your business.
  • The actual cost of custom software development is lower than the cost of switching from one ready-made software to another.
  • While some off-the-shelf software solutions may have integrations, they might not work as smoothly as you’d like.

The term Commercial Off the Shelf Software encompasses all software created to serve the needs of a specific market. Off the shelf software is often preferred, given how fast and cost effective it seems. However, there are other considerations that can reduce the value of “one size fits all” software. Since an off-the-shelf product is being used by millions of other people, you will usually find an active community helping and supporting each other.

Disadvantages of Custom Software: 3 Factors

Custom software is built on demand to a company’s exact requirements and specifications. The cost of building COTS is shared by all its eventual users, so the initial investment is low. COTS products have a collection of features that perform commonly required functions, with bonus features depending on their specific market. As mentioned earlier, off-the-shelf software programs can be bloated with unnecessary features that you don’t need. Additionally, these products may not offer the level of quality you desire.

what is off-the-shelf software

And oftentimes, you’ll find that software updates will come and go. Unfortunately, you have no control over the software’s features and functionality. Here, you’ll be able to ask questions, see how others are using the software, and quickly find solutions to common problems you’re facing or bugs you’re encountering.


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If you are using highly skilled developers to create your custom software, chances are that you will have all the features needed and it will help your software to perform exactly how you need it to perform. This is some of what is off-the-shelf software the big picture thinking that we try to bring to the table. We help people look at their business from a business outcomes perspective and a more data-centric approach, while still paying attention to the applications.

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In most cases maintenance continues for a long time after the specific product has stopped being sold, so there’s no need to buy newer versions if the original still works. Companies can use extra features to experiment with changes to their digital strategy or business model without buying another piece of software. Companies can lower those early costs even further by choosing subscription software over one-time purchase programs.

what is off-the-shelf software

Off-the-shelf software is usually cheaper when looking at purchase price alone since it’s mass-produced and readily available. There are also many others purchasing the software, so you’re not footing the total cost of development on your own. You can even also influence or control on how complex or difficult the tools in your custom software are. This will result in a more smoother learning experience for you and your employees. The biggest advantage of the custom software is the custom features.

No previous experience

This greatly minimizes the risk of intrusions, data breaches, and other unwanted threats. The exceptional usability and unlimited accessibility of off-the-shelf software solutions, which are developed for the public and large types of audiences, are always what set them apart. Among the compelling benefits of custom software development, we can name the following.

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