Should Your Company Choose Off-the-Shelf or Bespoke Software Solutions?

July 25, 2015

10:00 am

Off-the-shelf software offers convenience for millions of customers. All that’s needed is to visit a store virtually or in person, and then purchase the item. However, can off-the-shelf software adequately meet the needs or expectations of a business?

The Differences between Off-the-Shelf and Bespoke Software


Although off-the-shelf products may release updates on a regular basis, these may require the payment of a fee in order to stay upgraded. Non-payment can result in software becoming outdated and even unusable. When software has been customized for a business, no cost updates occur when they are needed.

Specific Requirements

Bespoke software is designed to meet the specific demands of the company it is created for. As well, should problems arise with bespoke software, they can be addressed quickly. Off-the-shelf software may require waiting several weeks for the development company to reply to an issue, and then perhaps months before a fix is issued.

Ease of Use

Bespoke software is usually designed to provide what a company needs, and without the confusing features that some off-the-shelf software can include.


Compatibility is another area of consideration when choosing software. Off-the-shelf software may require upgrades in other departments within a company. Bespoke software can be designed to work with existing software and business practices.

Final Cost

Due to upgrade costs and other requirements, off-the-shelf software can end up costing far more than its initial purchase price. Consistent updates are a natural expectation with bespoke software, and so are often included in the cost of development.


While off-the-shelf software can certainly make things much easier for a business, it often does not have the capability to automate those tasks that employees can find tedious and repetitive. Bespoke software leaves tedium to the computer while employees significantly increase their efficiency and effectiveness.

Resale Opportunities

Off-the-shelf software can be purchased and used, and that is where the cycle ends. However, bespoke software can be equipped with the opportunity for the buyer to resell the product, thereby earning them additional and passive revenue.

Competitive Advantage

Off-the-shelf software can be purchased by anyone, including a business’s competitors, making it difficult for businesses to gain the competitive edge. Bespoke software is designed to be unique to a particular company, increasing leverage in the marketplace.

Today, software is the backbone of many businesses. However, it is important for an educated decision to be made regarding whether to purchase off-the-shelf or bespoke software.

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Beata GREEN is Managing Director of HeadChannel Ltd., bespoke software development company in London. She is responsible for overall strategic direction and overseeing the company’s continuing growth, building closer client relationships and maintaining best working practices. She enjoys brisk country walks with her red fox labrador and then relaxing in front of a TV crime drama with a glass of red wine. HeadChannel Ltd.

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