Custom Software Development
Custom software (also known as bespoke software or tailor-made software) is software that is specially developed for some specific organization or other user. As such, it can be contrasted with the use of software packages developed for the mass market, such as commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software, or existing free software.
Since custom software is developed for a single customer it can accommodate that customer’s particular preferences and expectations. Custom software may be designed in stage by stage processes, allowing all nuances and possible hidden dangers to be taken into account, including issues which were not mentioned in the specifications. Especially the first phase in the software development process may involve many departments, including marketing, engineering, research and development and general management.
Large companies commonly use custom software for critical functions, including content management, inventory management, customer management, human resource management, or otherwise to fill the gaps present in the existing software packages. Often such software is legacy software, developed before COTS software packages offering the required functionality became available.
Custom software development is often considered expensive compared to off-the-shelf solutions or products. This can be true if one is speaking of typical challenges and typical solutions. However, it is not always true; custom software development by a reputable supplier is often a matter of building a house upon a solid foundation and, if managed properly, it is possible to do this quickly and to a high standard. In many cases, COTS software requires customization to correctly support the buyer’s operations. The cost and delay of COTS customization frequently adds up to the expense of developing custom software.
Additionally, COTS comes with high upfront license costs frequently running into millions of dollars. Thus only the big corporations are able to absorb such high costs upfront. Additionally, the big software houses having COTS products revamp their product very frequently. Thus a particular implementation needs to be upgraded for compatibility every 2–4 years. Given the cost of customization, such upgrades also turn out to be expensive as a dedicated product release cycle will have to be earmarked for it.
The decision to build a custom software or go for a COTS implementation would usually reside on one or more of the following:
Finances – Cost and Benefit: The upfront license cost for COTS products mean that a thorough cost-benefit analysis of the business case needs to be done.
Time to market – COTS products usually have a lesser time to market.
Size of implementation – COTS comes with standardization of business processes and reporting. For a global and national player, these bring in gains in cost savings, efficiency and productivity.