A few thoughts on custom v packaged software


One of the most frequent questions we have from our clients at Shoothill, is “Why should I consider custom software?”…

If you’re asking yourself the same question, I’ve put together a few reasons giving some insight into the benefits of choosing a custom software solution over an off-the-shelf software product.

Simply put, a custom software solution, will be designed to cater precisely for the requirements of your organisation whereas an off-the-shelf software package, while readily available, is often either limited in functionality, or indeed over complicated and packed full of features you will never use.

Many people aren’t aware of the differences between custom software and off-the-shelf alternatives. The one difference that people do pick up on is the pricing model and the stigma that custom software is very expensive, which in some cases is true but the benefits can far outweigh the up-front cost.


It can be a mistake to believe that off-the-shelf software is more secure than custom software. Because of off-the-shelf’s larger user base, they are seen as a prime target for hackers, the general rule being; the more widely software is used, the more negative attention it will receive. Not only does custom software get less attention from hackers than off-the-shelf, it’s also been carefully designed with dedicated secure hosting so that poses more of a problem for people looking for vulnerabilities.


Off-the-shelf software is as good as its latest iteration.

Mass market vendors often make a wide range of decisions pertaining to the evolution of their software, which has user interface (UI) tweaks that puzzles existing users, thereby affecting the functionality of the software – anyone familiar with Snapchat and their latest update will be all too aware of this!

Off-the-shelf software also often demands the latest OS and browsers, for example, Microsoft follows the n-1 rule, which basically means they support a version before the latest. This demand for the latest software or hardware can in some cases be capital intensive for smaller and medium-sized companies.

Custom software is designed to support whichever interface you choose and maximises performance around your hardware needs.


Flexibility, in terms of customisation, isn’t a feature of off-the-shelf software since it is designed for the mass market. This results in thousands of third-party applications offering integrations with plugin functionality to compensate for off-the-shelf software’s limited features. However, in many cases, a third party app won’t be readily available for your particular business requirement and this is where we see businesses juggling between multiple off-the-shelf apps and spreadsheets to cover all their needs.

With custom software, all of your requirements are taken into account and are included in a comprehensive specification.

Ownership & Costs

In most cases, off-the-shelf software is usually purchased on a monthly subscription basis and, if the supplier decides to terminate it, customers are at the risk of being abandoned which would pose a risk to their business. Custom software allows you to own the entire product IP and decide where and how it should be implemented.

While the up-front development cost can be higher, this is ‘sunk’ into a one-off capital purchase, as opposed to ongoing annual licence fees.

Even the basic version of Salesforce for 5 users is £1200 a year , and their premium version a massive £14,400!

What next?

If you are considering a custom software solution for your business, then please get in touch on 01743 636300 or [email protected].

We have delivered over 400 custom software projects for a huge variety of clients around the globe so our experience is second to none, you can read more at here