The decision to buy or build custom applications can be a difficult one to make, as it forces one to weigh both immediate needs and long-term plans for growth. On the plus side for buying an off-the-shelf solution: Such solutions often allow for quick deployment and can be relatively inexpensive. On the minus side: Canned mobile apps can only be customized to a certain point (often forcing workarounds), and they can be difficult to scale as your organization grows over time.
Building custom apps comes with compelling pluses and minuses, too. On the minus side, proprietary software often requires a significant investment of both time and money, especially when it?s created in a thoughtful way ? with ample time spent on the front end on strategy and design (i.e. clearly defining what you want to accomplish, and your timeline and budget for getting there; taking time to understand your users? needs; and identifying the technology and architecture required to support your product, etc.). On the plus side, a custom software approach is the way to go if:
- Your company has big plans for growth. Custom software can be modified much more quickly and easily than off-the-shelf solutions, so that it expands, improves, and changes with your business. So, even if you find existing software that meets most of your technology needs now, the chances of it still doing an adequate job as your business changes will rapidly diminish.
- Off-the-shelf apps can?t meet your every need. Canned software is created to address?many?of the needs of?most?businesses, not all needs of all businesses. If your organization has specialized needs, custom software ? developed with the exact features and functionality you desire ? may provide a better path forward.
- You need a software solution that lends itself to competitive advantage.?Custom software allows you to create a unique and powerful experience that can differentiate your company from the competition (versus the results you?ll likely to see if you just lean on the same off-the-shelf solution everyone else is leaning on).
- Your business needs an app that is compatible.?With off-the-shelf software solutions, it can be difficult to get Software A to successfully communicate with Software B (and C and D and E ? think systems, databases, plug-ins, tools, and utilities). And even if connectivity is possible, it typically comes with added fees. Custom software enables you to integrate with a wider set of APIs from different technology partners, confidently and comfortably.
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