Software is a business necessity in contemporary times. These products make business operations and workflows organized and easier. In fact, global spending on enterprise software between 2009 to 2023 has been $856 bn. Having learned their importance, let’s address the very repetitive question: Generic Software vs Custom Software.
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What Is Software?
Software is an entire set of instructions, programs, or data that allow users to carry out well-defined operations of a computer or some specified tasks. The software directs the hardware of a computer to perform these tasks.
Software developers write the software program in various human-readable languages such as Java, Python, C#, etc., and later use the source code which is in the binary language (composed of ones and zeros) to reduce time and effort.
There are majorly two types of software that a business can use: generic software and custom software. Let’s understand them better and then look at Generic Software vs. Custom Software.
What Is Generic Software?
Generic software is a system that is designed keeping in mind use by the general public and not some specific set of users, functions, or organizations. It is designed to cater to the needs of a wider audience; a market requirement. It is also called off-the-shelf software or content-free applications.
Generally, generic software is a stand-alone solution. However, in some cases, generic products are controlled by multiple organizations that collaborate to develop a product that meets the needs of most of the companies co-existing in a marketplace.
With no prior customer, these products incorporate day-to-day functionalities required by the masses and are built at the design company’s own costs and expenses and later sold in an open market.
Firefox, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Notes, Outlook, etc., are some of the most widely used generic software.
What Is Custom Software?
Custom software is a product that is developed to cater to the needs of an individual or a particular organization. It does not meet the requirements of the general public but targets specific needs. Functions, features, designs, expenses, costs, etc., are all decided by the developing company based on its own needs and business goals.
Custom software development is a long process as these products need to include multiple specifications and are costlier due to the same. A company seeking custom software development can either build it in-house or hire a software development company to do the same.
Both generic and custom software helps a business streamline workflow. However, there are some distinctions between the two, giving birth to the question of Generic Software vs Custom Software, that a business needs to keep in mind while making a choice.
Somemajor differences between the two types of software are as follows:
As stated above, the purpose of generic software is to cater to mass needs. They are built in accordance with what is required by the public; features and functionalities demanded in an open market.
Whereas custom software development is undertaken to target a specific set of requirements of an individual/s or an organization. These products cater to the needs of organizations developing them.
Generic software is not built keeping in mind high quality but is developed to meet the market demands and requirements. In simpler terms, quality is not a major parameter for generic software development. Delay in the release of the product in pursuit of perfection or high quality may lead to huge losses for the software developing company.
On the other hand, quality is a huge factor in custom software development. The product’s quality decides its future and the business’s future in the market as a business target its exact needs and audience through the custom-made software.
This means that the revenue and progress of a business depend largely on the quality of the product being developed. Hence, developers build custom-made products keeping quality in mind.
Generic software has a wide range of features that are most basic in order to be understood and used by a wider audience. Similar purposes severing generic products may serve almost the same features and functions, but the level of complexities of the functionalities might differ.
Custom-made software on the other hand has unique features and functionalities in their product, specific to the client’s/customer’s requirements. These products have limited user-friendliness in comparison to generic software that is built for millions of users.
4. Project management and control
In the case of generic software, the entire project management, and control are with the software development company.
They take charge of the complete development process from the inception, design, architecture, functions, and QA to the testing stages of the product. End-users come into the picture after the software is released in the market. They can own the software after acquiring the license to use it.
For custom software, the project management depends upon the mode used to develop the product. If a business decides to build it in-house, then it manages the product itself. However, if a business outsources the development of the software, then the project is managed by the outsourcing service provider.
In both cases for custom-made software, control over the project is with the targeted users. The software is designed to cater to their needs and hence, they control its features and functionalities.
In the case of generic software, scalability is an important factor in the development process. As the market requirements grow and technology advances, generic software adapts to the changing needs. Their designs are kept agile and scalable due to the same.
On the other hand, custom software development does not prioritize scalability to the level of generic software development. These products primarily aim to cater to the current client needs and user scenarios, whilst incorporating some amount of scalability for future needs.
6. Development costs
Since generic software target general needs and do not involve any specific features and functions, they are cheaper to build. They are developed keeping in mind their usability and more importantly, affordability of the users, be they small to medium firms or individual business owners and entrepreneurs, or the general public.
Generic software development company derives their profits from the quantity sold and offer decent quality.
On the other hand, custom software development is a costly process. It comes as no surprise as anything made to cater to your individual needs or customized as per your requirements would cost more than what is available for general public use. Hence, custom software cost more but their ROI can be highly impressive.
Generic software is updated as per the requirements of the market or wider audience using the software. When making generic software, the designer keeps future updates in mind and builds the software accordingly.
Whereas, since the custom software development is driven by the client/customer needs, the updates and changes are also decided by either of the two.
Since now we are aware of the major differences between generic software and custom software development, let’s have a look at the pros and cons of both types of software.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Generic Software:
Some of the advantages of generic software are:
Generic software costs way less money than custom software
Generic software is user-friendly
Since generic software is off-the-shelf products, they can be simply bought by the company as soon as they are released. Additionally, these products are available for immediate use
Generic software has regular updates. As the developing company changes the software or builds new versions, it releases regular updates for its users
Some of the disadvantages of generic software are:
Generic software does not cater to your specific business needs
The integration of generic software with the already existing systems is not seamless. In some cases, businesses might have to spend extra costs and time to train employees to use features and functions or suit a particular solution
The costs to buy generic software might be minimal but to regularly update it and use premium versions might be heavy on the pocket in future
As the company grows, its needs might outrun the features and functions of a generic software in place and this might force them to hold back or replace it with custom-made software
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Custom Software:
Some advantages of custom software are:
These products are tailored to meet the exact needs of your business, catering to all the target points. Therefore, custom-made software helps a business achieve its goals more efficiently and effectively
In custom software, the client/customer has complete control over the project; from its planning to its development. The client also has the liberty to decide and implement future updates and modifications to the software
Custom software is easily integrated into the business ecosystem. Businesses need to not bear any extra costs on training or anything
Custom software is more secure as a business have the option to add the security measures, they feel are necessary for their application
Some disadvantages of custom software are:
Custom software requires significant time and expertise to develop. Moreover, they are expensive. However, once the product is deployed, it has the power to give a positive ROI.
Therefore, while both types of software have their own pros and cons, a business needs to take a decision based on its requirements, goals, and future scaling plans.
While generic software is a cheaper option, it does not cater to a business’s exact needs and goals. Custom software might feel heavy on the pocket initially; however, it has a positive ROI and serves a business in more ways than generic software.
A business that is just starting and does not have a lot of budget might find generic software to be better for them but a business that needs to target specific needs and enhance market visibility should always go for custom software.
And with this, we would like to close the question of Generic Software vs Custom Software.
Want to begin your custom software journey? Partner up with Big Oh and develop reliable, scalable, and efficient custom software for all your business needs and goals. Get in touch today!
Q1. What are some disadvantages of using a generic software product?
Generic software does not cater to specific business needs and goals and is built for more basic use. Moreover, it is not easily integrated with the business ecosystem and requires regular updates which might cost extra.
Q2. What are some advantages of custom software development?
Contrary to generic software, custom software targets the specific requirements of a business, enhancing the efficiency and productivity of workflows, among other things. Furthermore, these solutions are easily integrated and enable a business to scale without having to invest in additional solutions.
Q3. How can a company determine whether to use a generic software product or custom software development?
A company that requires software for more basic, general day-to-day functions should go for generic software while a company looking to meet its more specific needs and goals should always go for custom software.
Q4. What are some factors that can influence the decision between generic software products and custom software development?
A company’s budget, project requirements, and timelines are some of the factors that influence the choice of software.
Q5. What are some best practices for custom software development?
1. Agile or Waterfall as a Software Development Life Cycle Model 2. Code Review and Linting Tools 3. DevOps practices for Continuous Integration and Delivery 4. Testing includes functional, Non-functional (Automation, Performance Testing & Compliance Testing) 5. Daily Code Commit and Consistent Branching Techniques