Off the shelf or tailor made software?
By DBLogic on 14/02/2018

There’s a lot of choice when it comes to choosing software for running your business. Most people start off with basic spreadsheets to keep track of things like inventory, finances and wages. As your company grows the need to upgrade your business software grows with it. 

So, when you get to the stage where your spreadsheets are actively holding you back what do you do?

You need to decide whether you want to use COTS (Commercial off the Shelf) software or bespoke software. It’s a big decision and it will have a profound impact on how you run your business.

With COTS software you get a generic system that has been designed to fit around many different types of business. You may be able to customise the software, but it will only be within narrowly defined boundaries.

Here are some questions to think about when researching off the shelf software:

·         Will it actually make your life easier?

·         Will it save you time?

·         Will you have to substantially change the way you do business to accommodate the software?

·         Is help easily accessible if you need it?

·         Can it grow with your business?

The downside of COTS software is that it can be inflexible. You may find that you have to add new stages to old paper processes just to get the new system to work for you. There’s also the challenge of getting several COTS systems to work together in order to get all the functionality that you need. 

COTS software can be a stepping stone from spreadsheets to a custom software system. Keeping track of the frustrations and limitations of your current COTS system can form the basis of a really productive conversation with your software developer!

As you might expect, the questions to think about when considering a tailor made software system are the same as for a COTS system. However it’s important to remember that actually bespoke software can cost less than a COTS system, when you consider seat licensing costs and flexible pricing options a bespoke approach often allows. Your software development company will be able to talk through your options and advise you how they can help at each stage.

Make sure you work with a development company that takes time to understand exactly what you need and how you need it to perform. It can be difficult to make large adjustments once the software build has begun, so it’s really worth putting the time in at the start of the process.

We create custom software for businesses and we want it to fit perfectly. Our aim is to give you the right advice so that you get a solution that suits you and your company. If you’re unsure whether to go for COTS software or a bespoke system then give us a call or drop us an email and see how we can help.

To discuss your options please call us on 01889 572000 or email totally free of charge.