Build Custom Software Vs. Buying a Readymade Turnkey solution

In today’s increasingly tech savvy world, firms across all sectors are eagerly upgrading their IT systems with world class software to promote their online business. For some firms, the software solutions serve as a competitive advantage, while for others, they are just a means to the end, a facilitator for the projection of the real competitive advantage. A key question facing all these firms is whether to buy their software from the various ready-made options available online or to develop an in-house software custom built to suit all their unique needs. To be able to answer this question, we first need to understand all details related to both custom software and ready-made turnkey solutions. The following guide will help you pick the one best for your requirements.


What is custom software?

When a company builds a software for itself and gets it specially made just for its company, it is called custom software. It is developed for a single customer only and pays attention to their preferences and expectations. Choosing custom software is like getting a software made by a tailor to fit the e-commerce business or any other business perfectly. Development of such online software is a complicated and elaborate process. It is just like building a house. One needs to consider three important things while building such an online software:

  1. Requirements of the company
  2. The layout and development plan of the software
  3. Testing of the software

All these three steps are very elaborate. To list the requirements of the company is alone a huge task as one needs to be very careful and make no mistakes. The unique selling point of custom software is that it is tailor made for the company. The layout and development plan are all about putting everything together and assembling the software. The testing part is very crucial as if anything goes wrong, the software has to be built again or if there is any flaw, it has to be changed or rectified.

Why choose custom build software?

Every business is different and has some uniqueness. With custom build software, one can fulfil its specialized needs, simplify business and be different from other firms using canned software.

By using the same software as others, we limit our mindset to that software. Whereas getting a custom build online software helps to establish a vision and do something different than the crowd.

Getting a custom software is very advantageous for an e-commerce business as there are more integrations and compatibility in the work done by the company. Furthermore, the company gets a competitive advantage over other companies which are stuck using the same canned software.

Benefits of Custom Software:

  1. Increase in Efficiency Such online software helps in enhancing the company and provides an increase in efficiency. As it is tailor made for the company, it help’s satisfy the client’s online business requirements.
  2. Flexibility Unlike the packaged software, this software can be changed as and when the client pleases to do so. With the changing online business environment, the needs of a company also keep on changing and having a custom build software helps with this. For all intents and purposes, a custom built software can always be scaled to accommodate the changes in the business process over time.
  3. Security As no one else has the same online software, one can feel secure that no one will hack into the system. For further protection, one can take whatever security measure deems fit which might not be the case for packaged software.

Limitations of Custom Software:

While there are many pros to selecting a custom software for one’s company, there are an equal amount of cons as well. Building a custom made online software takes up a lot of time and also costs a lot in few cases where the specifications are very different. Keeping the online software up to date is another task in itself as it takes weeks sometimes to get all the bugs out. In case some bugs remain un-noticed, they can cause critical errors. Once the company is shut or over with that section of their online business, the software is obsolete and cannot be reused. With packaged software, one knows how it works and what to do but in this case, everything is different and this creates problems in handling the software.

So just like a coin has two sides, even building custom made software might either be beneficial or may cause a huge loss in terms of time and money. 


What is a Turnkey Software?

A ready-made online software is one that is readily available for n number of problems, can be sold to any buyer and is ready for instant use. They are developed for all users in general and do not focus on any particular specification. Since such software has a rigid structure, the same software can’t be used by all. For example, an accounting firm will find ‘Tally’ more useful than some software used in a game. Just like every business targets a group of people, the same is done while making a ready-made turnkey software.

Such online software is very famous and used by almost every other firm. It is cheaper and easily available in the market. Since it is used by many people, the creators of such software are able to provide easier updates. Everyone is familiar with how the online software work and do not need to be updated on the recent technologies. The ready-made software is definitely a better option than building a custom made software for some online businesses.

In the past few years, hundreds of such turnkey software have come up that provide an automated solution for almost everything. These turnkey solutions have had a huge impact on everyone’s life as they are available for all types of online business and are affordable too. Such software have made the automation of various tasks much easier as one just needs to follow the rules and limitations of such software. Packaged software is also known as canned software, has much more benefits than building software has.

Benefits of Packaged Software:

  1. Cost – It is cheap and easily available. One can use it instantly and does not have to waste time in the set up of such online software. They are much more economical and user-friendly. Even though they are rigid, they do provide all the services that an average size firm is looking for in the software implemented within their systems
  2. Easy implementation ensures time-saving – Buying and implementing a turnkey solution doesn’t take long. You shortlist the vendor and have them incorporate the software in your enterprise’s architecture. However, building it takes much longer as you have to keep piloting it to get rid of the bugs and it is often difficult to predict exactly how long it might take.
  3. Generic needs – For basic needs like record keeping, managing sales, setting up a bonus card system and so on, software is easily available. The online software have been implemented by many and can thus, be vouched for as well.

When a business is in its budding stage and is a bit short on both time and money it should always go for ready-made software as they are much cheaper than building an online software. In a case of businesses where competitiveness of the firm is not affected by technology, choosing a canned software is a much better option as it is easier to handle and maintain.

Limitations of Turnkey Software:

Since such software is very rigid, they might not support all types of appliances. For example, window based software supports only laser jet printer and so on. Furthermore, sometimes such canned software fails to meet some specific wants of the customers and might not be the ideal choice.

This software doesn’t have very good backing up capacity. So, if the data in such software gets lost it might be a bit difficult to recover the entire thing. Also, as these are already built and no changes can be made, there are limits to the security they give a company and might not be suitable for big firms who cannot risk getting their data stolen.

CONCLUSION – Why should one choose ready-made software or building a custom made software?

Comparing the two types of online softwares on various metrics we can conclude that ready-made software is a cheaper and more hassle free solution.

Budget – Ready-made software cost significantly lesser than custom built software as they are sold by the developer to a number of online businesses allowing them to reduce charges compared to one who develops and sells a software to single business.

Comfort – Ready-made software is more easily designed and implemented. Developing custom software takes a lot of time as was described as one of its major cons. Additionally, after putting in all that effort, there is no guarantee that it’ll function as expected.

Fulfilment – Ready-made software fulfil most of the online business’ needs and thus, is as good a solution as custom built software and comes with lesser hassle and monetary requirements.

Competitive Advantage – This is one metric where custom software does better than ready-made. While the former can create a competitive advantage for a firm, the latter can’t. Ready-made software is designed keeping in mind a generic set of needs. Thus, for any online business acquiring it, it’ll fulfil most of its demands but never all. On the other hand, since custom software is built to fit the firm’s architecture it generally fulfils all its criteria. This can be a major advantage that custom built software has over ready-made. However, it is relevant only in situations where the firm is tech oriented and needs such an advantage.

The main conclusion that can be drawn here is that there is no one correct answer. Depending on the kind of online business, and the kind of requirements it has one can select between turnkey solutions and custom built ones.

If you have any doubts or concerns, feel free to drop a line or two in the comments section. I shall reply in a day or two. Keep watching this space for informative insights on custom software and ready-made turnkey software. Subscribe to our newsletter to keep yourself abreast of developments in the software industry. My best wishes are with you and your firm. Cheers! 

Author: Raghavendra Pokuri

Raghavendra Pokuri is a passionate content marketer. He previously worked as a Content Developer for a couple of startups. His interests include Behavioural Economics, E-commerce, and Blogging. When he is not pursuing his interests, he is busy cooking. He has expertise and experience in Digital Marketing. He can be reached on LinkedIn

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