software development

Custom vs. Commercial: Which Software Is Better For You?

26 Apr, 16 | illumisoftadmin

Custom vs. Commercial: Which Software Is Better For You?

When you decide it is time to invest in software for your business, it is important to learn what the main differences are between custom and commercial systems. Commercial software is a one size fits all software solution that is purchased either online or at a store. Custom applications are created by a development company that specializes in custom-made software solutions. These solutions are made to order and not resold to other companies.

There are clear advantages to having custom software built for your company and the main ones are described below:


Custom software built specifically for your needs does not contain superfluous design elements.
When a custom software solution is built, it is created to address the exact needs of your business. It does only what you want and need it to do. This is contrasted to commercial software that usually does not address your exact needs, but gets the job done in a generalized way. Commercial software usually contains extra features that your business does not need or use even though you must pay for them as part of the solution.

Custom software is scalable
One of the biggest advantages of customized software is scalability. It is a given that customized software can accommodate your current requirements for data capacity and other features. Unlike most commercial software, however, custom software for you business also offers something extra: the flexibility to adjust to your changing needs and accommodate an increasing volume of data and variety of functions.

Custom software is built for long-term use, as well, so your developer will have analyzed your future needs and incorporated them into the design of the program. Being directly in touch with the developer also makes it easy to ask for a recontract should your custom software need new architecture.

Scalability, however, depends mainly on the skill and foresight of the software developer. This is yet another reason why you need to be prudent in choosing a software development company.

Custom software allows you to upgrade whenever necessary.
Many are attracted to the promise of updates from off-the-shelf software developers, and so they choose the cheaper option. However, just like the very nature of commercial software, their updates are generic and shallow. If you have specific gripes about a feature in the software, there’s no guarantee that it will be improved upon. You might be the only one asking for it among thousands of customers. Additionally, you have no control over the frequency of updates. Should the company decide to stop developing new updates, you’ll be stuck with an outdated and insecure program.

These complications rarely exist with customized software. You have greater control over the updates that will be implemented. You can choose which functions to add, remove, or upgrade. If you foresee a need for updates, you can initiate their development rather than wait unknowingly for their release.

With custom software, you’re in control of your processes, completely independent from third-party software providers.

Custom software can be modified quickly and inexpensively.
When your business expands or transforms, your software will need to change as well. If the software was created by a professional developer using today’s best practices, then it can be adapted quickly and effortlessly. Your new business goals and needs can be communicated and then translated into a new direction with ease. Commercial software, on the other hand, is not easily changed because there are a number of hoops one must pass through in order to get these modifications done. First, the company who created the software must be contacted, which could potentially take considerable time and the results usually cannot be guaranteed. This could also be quite costly.

Custom software gives you the competitive advantage.
The very nature of customization gives you a competitive advantage over others in your industry. Customized software integrates more smoothly into your business processes, and your employees need less time to master the new, customized programs. Your organization can achieve improved efficiency quickly as a result and start generating returns on this investment.

Another benefit that gives you a competitive advantage is custom software’s seamless integration with existing office and business processes. When you have fully automated systems for payroll, financial management, sales and lead tracking, invoicing, and (in the case of manufacturing companies) assembly lines, these departments can be more integrated, more efficient, and do higher-quality work.

Custom software applications allow you to focus your human resources on tasks that need a human touch.
Custom software’s primary function is to automate the parts of your business that are automatable. It is built specifically to allow for greater automation of your business. This characteristic allows people in your organization to stop doing mundane and tedious tasks and instead focus their time and energy on activities that require human thought. However, even for manual tasks, custom software can allow for more intuitive interaction and can address the needs of your organization better than commercial software.


DonutsLet’s take the example of a donut shop. The donut shop starts out as a small operation with only one store. It uses commercial software for all its business needs. As it grows, so does the complexity of its business operations. After a few years, it expands to include over ten donut shops. It is still using commercial software but now it needs this software to do things that it was never designed to do. Over the years it has had custom software patches bolted onto the commercial software foundation. This is often called a hybrid solution. This “system” is most likely not a very stable one, though and sometimes most likely does not do what it is supposed to do. It cannot function in a reliable manner because of the way it was built. A custom software application is much better suited for a growing business because as the business changes, so can the software. Its design is streamlined and meant for continuous improvements and modifications. Commercial software is not designed for constant long-term adaptation to your company. The company that produces it decides what it will eventually evolve into. This is perhaps the most important difference between custom and commercial software.



Naturally, I’m biased when it comes to recommending which software is best to use, but I hope I’ve clarified some fundamental differences between custom and commercial software applications. I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have. My name is Dan Prince and I’m the founder of illumisoft. You can reach me via email at [email protected] or my cell phone at 816.564.9595.