Software: Is it time to go bespoke?


Picture the scene – the all-important software that keeps your business running needs an upgrade. What should you do? Rather than hitting the download button on the latest mass-market package, many businesses are opting for bespoke software solutions. Ciara Wood from MSM Software explores why going bespoke could be an option – even for SME’s…

When you hear the word bespoke, it’s only natural to associate it with expense. A bespoke suit would always cost more than ready to wear. And although there’s no denying bespoke software has a higher upfront cost, it can certainly be most cost effective in the longer term.

Off the Shelf Software

As the costs are spread over the mass market, any off the shelf software you may be looking for is naturally cheaper. Yet, once you’ve signed up, what are the extra expenses?

How much does the license fee or subscription run to over the lifetime of you needing the software? Can you guarantee that price won’t increase and can you easily upgrade the number of users your license covers when your business grows?

When it comes to installing the software, will it work for everyone? The requirements of different teams vary considerably, so an off the shelf solution could always be missing a critical feature. And that’s assuming the software integrates in the first place. Every business has an almost unique mixture of software, hardware, tools and processes to make their business a success. Yet ensuring off the shelf software plays nicely with your systems can often require IT resource to develop and enhance your systems – even if you’ve read the spec online before purchasing.

Finally, there’s your employees time to consider. The key people who will actually be working with your off the shelf solution will be the ones spending time transferring files, setting up and learning how to operate the new software. It’s a time consuming exercise, costly if extra training is needed and can still leave staff exasperated if the latest upgrade offers more problems than solutions.

Back to Bespoke

So going back to that bespoke suit. It may have the upfront cost, but it can offer the perfect fit – without any hidden extra expenses. When it comes to bespoke software solutions they are uniquely devised to integrate with your existing systems.

No integration problems. No ongoing licence fees and hopefully fewer disgruntled staff.

In the long term, this offers a lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) so over your software’s lifetime it can be the same price, if not cheaper when you compare bespoke software to off the shelf.

With anything bespoke though you want to ensure the team creating your software has the necessary skills to bring your creation to life.

Spiralling costs and never ending deadlines are the most common concerns business have when it comes to going bespoke. But confirming the essential details in the initial scoping stages often will map out everything that you and your software developer need.

And ongoing costs? Whoever you commission will try to craft software will be aligned to your ongoing business objectives – so your software will remain functional as your business grows. Plus, ongoing maintenance and support are often included in the original price. And when it comes to final sign off your business will own the intellectual property, so you’re not tied into a life time commitment with your software developer.

Finally, there’s the competitive advantage. Every business wants to stand out and whether it’s via software that can drastically improve your business efficiencies, or helps you to tighten your sales funnel a bespoke solution can give you a competitive advantage making that all important difference in a way that off the shelf software can’t.


Mitch Finlay

Web Development Manager

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