Custom software versus off-the-shelf

It’s a debate that many companies around the world wrestle with: should they go with an off-the-shelf program and make it fit their needs, or should they get a custom software solution that automatically does what they need? There are pros and cons to both options, and your choice will likely come down to three things: your budget, your requirements, and the support system.

Weighing up the options for custom software vs off-the-shelf


  • Off-the-shelf – nine times out of ten, this will be the cheaper option initially. However, you may find that later on you have to pay more for add-ons or need to buy entirely new software as your company grows and changes.
  • Custom – yes, the initial cost is higher than the average programme you can buy from a shop. However, it works out more cost-effective in the long run if you need a complicated solution or want it to grow with your business.


  • Off-the-shelf – you get what it says on the box. If you need anything else, you will have to pay for more options or get an entirely new system.
  • Custom – the sky is the limit. Your software will be able to do whatever you need it to do, and you can make sure it integrates with your other systems.

After-sales support

  • Off-the-shelf – you will have access to not only the company’s official customer support, but also to community forums created and constantly added to by other users. You can also read reviews about the software and learn how it works before you purchase.
  • Custom – no other users to talk to, no chance of you knowing the software before you pay for it, and the developer is your only port of call if something goes wrong. However, you can always learn about the company from other customers and will have several meetings before anything gets developed to ensure you have a good rapport with them. At Netgen, we offer ongoing maintenance and support to all our clients so that they know they can call on us if anything ever goes wrong with the software.

How do you choose?

In the debate over custom software vs off-the-shelf, it’s all about understanding your needs. If your requirements are simple or common to your industry, then you’re probably better with an off-the-shelf solution. However, if you need something that is specific to your company and the way it works, you may be better off with something bespoke.

Ready to go the custom route?

Come and talk to the experts at Netgen about whether or not a custom solution is a right choice for your business. We can help you assess your needs, plan a course of action and build you a solution that really works for your company. Contact us today.

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