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To Build Or To Buy – What Type Of Software Should You Use?

Written by Wasim

The pros and cons of getting proprietary software versus off-the-shelf software.

When it comes to the deciding factor to select a software that will act as the foundation for your business or startup, you can choose to invest in either something that is already available or build a bespoke one designed to support your company’s needs specifically.

The main aspect that differentiates the two is the cost. Getting “off-the-shelf” is quicker and cheaper than contracting a software developer to build one from scratch. The rest of it boils down to usability, performance, and functionality. Each option has its own merits and demerits:

Bespoke Software


  1. It is unique to your company, designed to tackle specific circumstances by providing a near-to-perfect solution as it is programmed to meet every requirement outlined in the evaluation phase.
  2. It offers endless customization as it can be and adjusted as your business expands. This gives you an advantage over your competition as it is something they don’t have.


  1. The cost of having the software means you will probably have to shed a sizeable investment on it.
  2. It does not provide you with a quick fix as development may take anywhere from a few weeks to months. You are also entirely dependent on the software provider for any support, which could be inconvenient at times.

Off The Shelf Software


  1. Quick installation and use are at the forefront here, subsequently lowering the price you pay. You can install the software and start using it almost immediately.
  2. Trusted packaged software will have broad adoption of the exact solution you’ll be using – and a good custom software partner will have a proven track record. Getting support is easy in case any problems arise.


  1. By choosing this option, you are getting what is available to your competitors. Hence, there is little room to innovate your business.
  2. You will have to forego customization completely as most off-the-shelf business software is rigid and difficult to modify. Another issue that could crop up is compatibility.

In the end, your choice will affect the stability and profitability of your company so choose wisely.

Originally published Apr 28, 2019 16:31:11 PM, updated Mar 22, 2022

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