There are not so many unanswered questions in this world: "what is the meaning of life", "to be or not to be", "custom software or the ready-made one".

We don't have answers to the first two, but fortunately, we are quite competent to answer the last one. 

As a development company with more than 13 years of experience, we would like to tell you without a doubt that custom software is exactly what you are looking for. If you really want to bring your unique idea to life or gain a competitive advantage, custom software is what you should go for. 

However, in many cases, to choose the right option is not so simple. In this article, we will confront custom and ready-made software as two opponents. We will take a look at their special qualities and to make it at least a little bit easier to answer one unanswered question. And all you’d have to do is to make your call!

Custom Software VS Ready-made Software: who is who 

First of all, before we get into comparisons, let's start with the terminology. How can you compare two concepts if you still don't know a thing about them? 

Only by finding out more! 

So, in the left corner stands custom software - individual, unique software that is created specifically for your business. No two custom applications are the same, each one is unique in its own way and helps you individually achieve your business goals. 

Custom software adapts to your business and is built with your individual needs in mind. 

In the right corner stands ready-made software - an application or group of applications built specifically to meet a business's specific goals. These applications can range from the Microsoft Office suite to more complex programs with more sophisticated functionality. Most of the time, the functions of ready-made software cannot be changed; they are already built-in and are aimed at solving common problems of businesses in different industries. 

These are two fundamentally different types of the software, which are suitable for different businesses because of their features. 

Custom Software VS Ready-made Software: the fight!

In 2021, custom software and ready-made software will go toe-to-toe. The frequency of using custom and off-the-shelf software will reach 25.5% of all possible software variants. This is what makes them true competitors and forces us to check: who'd win this battle? 

Parameter one: meeting your business needs:

Custom software is designed initially with your business needs, goals, and requirements in mind. This means that software is fully customizable and unique, matching every detail to what your business strategy is designed to achieve. 

If you plan to scale in the future, custom software will have a scalable architecture for future growth. All your business requirements will be taken into account in custom software through market, trends, and competitor research. Your technical partner will also study your goals, ideas, pains, risks. Some software companies introduce a special and broader IT consulting service for this purpose. 

In addition, in case your needs change, and they most likely will, custom software will remain flexible. You will always have the ability to adapt and update it. 

Whatever your needs are, custom software is ready to meet them; whatever idea you have, custom software is capable of being its implementation. And that makes it a significant competitive advantage.

Ready-made software is created for being able to satisfy the common needs of different businesses in one industry. They are known for not being able to fully satisfy your needs, yet they are a great solution for a business start. Why is that? Because ready-made software meets just a part of your needs, the common and the basic part.

By buying ready-made software you become closer to the common standard and sacrifice some of your own uniqueness. Your original idea will remain an idea, and your business needs will be met at a common level. 

A general understanding of usability will most likely satisfy your customers but less likely will impress them. A narrow possibility for scalability will allow you to reach a certain level and no higher. 

Custom software breaks down limits and boundaries; ready-made software, alas, not yet. 

However, it can be a great solution for those who are just starting their business in the digital environment. You will be able to study the market, competitors, and customers’ behavior. Later you may use this knowledge to improve your own idea. 

Strategies created in the warm environment of an office cubicle need field-testing, and ready-made software provides an almost painless opportunity for this.

Parameter two: the costs:

Custom software is more expensive. It goes without saying because when you buy custom software, you end up with a full-fledged IT-solution with functionality that meets your unique requirements on your service. The pricing includes only those features you really need, and everything in this solution will be aimed at the specific needs of your business. Custom software is ready to be integrated into your business strategy and business logic because it is created based on them. You buy the product which is your legal property. 

So, you become a participant in a reality show about implementing your idea. This allows the custom software to fit better into your business processes and optimize them.

It is customized to fit the way your business lives and works. This is what provides a higher level of business optimization through custom software. 

Yes, such a solution is expensive at first, but later on, it can be a much better option for you, because you won't have to pay for subscriptions, new features, modules, etc. 

Ready-made software is cheaper to buy and implement. This is an off the track product, which you practically grab from the shelf to your shopping cart and that is ready to use. You're paying money for something that already exists, that was created a long time ago, and has been used by many people and companies before you (or not, who knows). 

Nevertheless, this is no one-time fee: you'll pay for a subscription, the purchase of new features, or other fees charged by the provider. 

Ready-made software optimizes processes on a basic level. This can be useful if you have a small business that does not yet have atypical unique needs. This solution is ideal in the short-term but the more your business grows, the less the capabilities of a ready-made solution will satisfy its needs.

So, in the end, you either have to invest your budget into a custom solution or add new features and modules to a ready-made one. 

Parameter three: speed of implementation:

Custom software takes longer to implement and develop because it is created from scratch. It is a completely unique product, like your fingerprint, which is created in full accordance with your requirements, wishes, and business needs. 

So, to integrate custom software into the workflow and business strategy of your company may be much easier since its build specifically for them. But there are a bunch of details that can make this process slower and a tiny bit harder. 

For example, it may be more difficult for your employees to use custom software than ready-made if they have not worked with such software before. This problem may be solved by training your people to use the new software, which can be provided by development company

The time-consuming process of custom software development is another problem you may encounter. However, many companies are willing to provide the customer with a minimal viable product (MVP), which possesses critical functionality and can be used as a full-fledged product. This solves the problem, allows you to integrate custom software into your business processes faster, and check how it will be accepted by your customers.

Ready-made software is much faster because it is simpler by nature; it may be integrated into the workflow quickly enough because it's already created. However, do not forget that such a solution is easy to integrate only for small companies since it doesn't have enough functionality to meet high requirements. 

This type of software is simple and intuitive to use because it is designed for non-technical customers. If you don't have a technical background and there are about 10 employees in your team, off-the-shelf software is a great solution for a fast and successful start. 

Parameter four: support

Custom software is created by a team you know and who can continue to support the software after the development process is completed. Working with such software, you know for sure that you will not be left alone with your problems, and in case of a breakdown, it will be leveled as soon as possible. 

Not all companies support their software after development, but those that do guarantee you it has better performance. This support is not only about fixing flaws, but also about preventive maintenance, hotfixes, keeping the software up-to-date through market analysis, and making recommendations to improve the product. 

Ready-made software loses this one because its support is significantly different from custom software. 

Think of it this way: when you order dinner, in case of food-poisoning the restaurant will be responsible for it. But if you bought a pre-made pizza, the consequences of eating it will be on your shoulders.
It was cheaper and maybe it was a better option for you at the time. But no one denies that by taking the product off the shelf you are left alone with the unknown.

Yes, if you feel unwell, you can prove the poor quality of the product, but it'll be difficult, time-consuming, and all that. 

It's really similar to ready-made software. You don't have the ability to call a specific person and report a problem that will be immediately solved. You call the support service, your problem will be queued up, and the complicated bureaucratic processes will begin. 

In addition, the situation can happen on the provider's side, with all of the software produced by them. Then there is a big risk that you will lose what you hoped for with this solution. 

That's why we say that ready-made software is good as a short-term solution - the longer you use it, the riskier it is. 

And here, finally, is the fun part. We saved that for last, so the practical confrontation of custom and ready-made software should be the last straw that will help you figure out what is the best solution for you.

Custom Software VS Ready-made Software: the knockout 

In order to show what results custom software can achieve, we chose one of the projects that MassMedia Group worked on. The Aristocrat Kids. 

This is a platform for selling children's clothing, the customization of which allowed us to implement a unique design for the site and help present each collection as a separate part of a fairy tale story.

The proof of the success of this custom software is the numbers confirming its effectiveness. 

In the main countries of the brand's target audience, the brand name grew by 41%, and by 16% across Europe. The brand gained 55% new customers, and this result exceeded expectations by 12%. By the way, the scalable architecture the software was developed on easily handled the load! 

And lastly, the software full return of investment (ROI) took 2.5 months, and unlike users of ready-made solutions, Aristocrat Kids doesn’t have to pay for subscriptions, extra features, and etc. 

And here are the other results we got from our custom projects: 

MyMyCars is a platform for trading vehicles. About 50,000 registered users, 25,000 ads for sale in 6 months after the release. 

Defero is a service for the monitoring of financial activity of companies or people. 6.05 thousand new users in 2 months, for the same time period the growth of business reached 1925%.  

And finally, a telling comparison of ready-made and custom software. In the statistics above, you can see the percentage ratio of productivity reached by custom to ready-made software. 

For example, custom software for customer self-service gives an average of 80% of results, covering the needs and goals of its owner. 

The same type of software, but ready-made, works at 18% and does not cover more than 60% of its owner’s needs.

This proves that custom software really is effective. But of course, these results won’t come on their own. You have to work with a reliable technical partner, be involved in the development process, and carefully access your business needs.

Someone needs unique software to emphasize the features of the business and get a competitive advantage with their idea. For someone, it'll be enough just to have the general features provided by the ready-made software to start their own way and grow. 

Anyway, custom software gives more opportunities to present your unique idea and raise your reputation on the market. It allows you to express yourself and let the market know how unique your idea is. So go and have your best solution to always be one step ahead of your competitors.

Author's Bio: 

Andrii is a content manager at MassMedia Group software development company. He is an expert at business running processes and methodologies, software solutions and is in charge of most crazy creative ideas concerning the content and targeted marketing.