When it comes to software applications, you have two choices: custom-developed applications or commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) products. Choosing between these two can sometimes be a tough decision. This is because COTS products are cheaper and easier to implement while many businesses sometimes need end-to-end services from software development companies Like TatvaSoft.com to meet their specific requirements. Before making the decision, it is important to gain proper knowledge about both options and then make an informed decision.
So first things first, let us take a peek into what these concepts really mean.
What is COTS?
COTS refers to products which have been developed and sold to multiple customers. The customers can be individuals or other businesses. COTS are ready-made applications, which are already developed and can be used by the business after some customizations if required.
What is custom software?
Custom software is tailor made for a specific customer. Custom software has specific requirements of the client and it’s designed according to the needs of the business. In a way, custom software is created from scratch where coding is done as per the need of the client so that it fits in the requirements of their business.
Difference between COTS and Custom Software Development
The key difference between custom software and a COTS is the scope of application. COTS software is a subset of software available in the market. The scope of the functionality provided by a COTS software will vary depending on the hardware and infrastructure on which it runs. Like general purpose software applications, a COTS can be deployed on any platform or hardware supported by the OS.
On the other hand, custom applications require specific hardware configuration to run. A custom application can be deployed only on machines with specific hardware requirements such as operating systems, processor architecture, graphics card, and network connection type.
COTS is a great cost-effective solution for companies with limited budgets. The system is ready to be implemented as soon as you purchase it and can be used by different departments in your company. However, custom software development requires more time and effort for the software to be built and then updated according to your needs. This means that the costs will be higher than those of COTS.
Cost per user/license
COTS products are usually sold on this basis, with the price based on the number of users for which a license is required.
Custom software development companies usually provide the final software development cost after all requirements have been determined.
Speed of development
COTS is prebuilt so it can be acquired in a short time, sometimes even instantly. Because of this, businesses don’t have to wait long to start using the software and they can also expect a quicker return on investment (ROI). On the other hand, custom software is built from scratch so development would take more time.
COTS users are responsible for the maintenance and updates of their software. Even if a vendor has provided technical support and bug fixes, you might be required to pay if you need major changes or new features.
Custom software development companies typically provide maintenance services for as long as necessary. You can always use the same company to upgrade and improve your software in the future.
When developing custom software, you can decide how the product will work and what features to include in its architecture. Also, this approach allows you to change your mind during the development process and add new features or remove unnecessary ones. With COTS products, you have no such freedom.
COTS products cannot be altered by the customer, so it’s the vendor’s responsibility to ensure the software is secure. Users must rely on the vendor to keep its product up to date with the latest security patches. With a custom solution, you control who can access and modify your software.
COTS products offer limited customization options because they need to accommodate multiple user bases. Custom applications are tailored specifically for your company’s needs, resulting in a more intuitive interface and a better overall user experience.
Integration with Existing Systems
The primary benefit of COTS products is that they are designed to integrate with other off-the-shelf software packages. However, there’s a limit to what these products can do, which means you may need additional systems in order to maintain your current workflows and processes. Custom software development allows those systems to be integrated into one cohesive package.
In essence, it’s a matter of understanding your budget, needs, and timeline. What you really want is to understand how each option impacts your business. Beyond the actual costs, you need to look at the major areas (information systems/IT, project management/administration, implementation) that might make one choice better than the other for you.
The truth is custom developed applications are more suited for large businesses with over 300 employees because they usually have to develop their own software since no off-the-shelf product matches their needs. However, this doesn’t mean that smaller companies can’t find great benefits in developing their own custom software. The right solution will naturally depend on the specific needs of your company.
So, you’ll want to sit down with your developers and designers, as well as other key members of your firm, including stakeholders, and determine what your top business priorities are. From there, you’ll be able to make an informed decision that fits with your firm’s goals and that can help you realize success from day one.