Difference Between Custom Software and Pre-Built Software

Difference Between Custom Software and Pre-Built Software

These days companies aren’t asking the question whether they should or shouldn’t be using some kind of software to help run their business, rather, they’re asking whether they should use some sort of pre-built software solution or develop their own custom software for their business needs. So, how do you know whether your business can get by on pre-built software or if you should invest in a custom software solution?

Pre-Built Software Solutions

In a matter of years, hundreds of pre-built software solutions have sprung up online.  All of which seem to offer an automated solution of some kind for your business. Many of these are affordable and can be easy to use. However, there are usually some drawbacks associated with each of them. As with any pre-built software, you’re required to play by its rules and limitations. A huge drawback to pre-built software can be the limited or no use of an API. An API is an Application Programming Interface. It is the mechanism by which other software can interact with it. If your pre-built software has limited or no API capabilities, the result is the inability to sync data across multiple systems or networks. Programs like Salesforce or Quickbooks often leave businesses wanting more, even when using their API. And if you aren’t able to obtain or access the data that you need, then a pre-built software solution might not be in your best interest. When you choose a pre-built software solution, it’s important to remember that you’re always at the mercy of how often its updated. This goes both for speed and security. The larger the company, the larger the target they are for hackers. The smaller the company, the less resources they have to build new features or increase speed. Earlier this year a vulnerability known as the Heartbleed virus surfaced. This Linux bug exposed more than 66% of all websites. And any company that didn’t patch it immediately was left extremely vulnerable. When something like this happens, as a user all you can do is sit back and hope that your service provider identifies these threats and patches things as quickly as possible.

Custom Software Solutions

Clearly one of the top reasons to choose a custom software solution over something pre-built is you get exactly what you need without any compromises. Many businesses from a variety of industries have the need to effectively track, organize, report, and securely store client data or staffing data on their own platform. And custom software is often the best and most sensible solution to meet all of those needs. Custom software is certainly an ideal solution for businesses, but determining whether its feasible is another matter. An investment of this kind takes time to plan, time to develop and test, and ongoing resources to maintain. It costs more upfront than the standard cookie-cutter software from pre-built solutions. Having said that, pre-built solutions usually have an opportunity cost associated with them as well. To determine whether a custom software solution is right for your business, ask yourself the following questions:
  • Is there a solution that already exists that will meet our needs for the way we do business?
  • At what rate will our business grow in the next few years and will a pre-built solution meet our needs then?
  • Do we have enough time to have someone build our custom software?
  • Do we have the capital to fund a custom software project?
  • Do we have a solution to host and service our new software?
There are many other questions you could ask yourself that might help you with your decision. In the end, it usually boils down to your priorities and plans. Many startups don’t have the means to build a custom software solution, so they choose to use something that is already built with plans to build in the future. However, because they’re limited to their software capabilities, it can actually prevent their business from growing as fast and successfully as it could if they had a custom software solution in place.


The bottom line is, pre-built software has its limitations and likely won’t scale near as fast and in tandem with your business. Having your own custom software solution allows you to add custom features unique to your business, scale up support, and patch issues quickly, which turns your software into a business advantage over your competitors who are using their pre-built software.  
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