Canned vs custom software: which one is best for your company? Whether running a small or large business, the most challenging situation you will find is whether to build or buy the software. In this guide, we will discuss this in detail.
What is canned software?
Canned software is a system previously developed by a supplier company, which sells “use licenses” of it. Just like any product that is “manufactured,” it goes through different stages before being launched on the market: design, production, and quality control.
What is custom software?
Custom software is created specifically to meet the requirements of your company. It can be developed by a vendor company, by independently hired systems professionals, or by your company’s systems department professionals.
Canned Vs Custom Software: Supplier/Product Choice
With a canned system, you can request meetings with the different supplier companies, so that each one “introduces” you to the system they sell. In these meetings, it should be clear what functionality the system offers, what it does NOT offer, and what you need or may need in the medium and long term.
Some providers may offer you “Demos” versions of the system to be tested and evaluated for a while. There are canned systems for different company sizes (SMEs, corporate, etc.) and focused on various businesses (gastronomic, health, media, etc.).
With a canned system, the purpose of the survey stage is for consultants or implementers to obtain the necessary information to customize the product later (configure) to adapt to your company’s needs, operations, and procedures.
If you decide to develop a customized system, you must select the professionals you will work with based on their background and experience. Some providers can make a demo based on a similar system they have already developed, which will later be modified to meet your company’s specific requirements. But basically, you get an idea of what you are going to acquire. You will buy an idea, a project.
In a customized system, the survey must be exhaustive. The consultants will obtain the necessary information to determine the system’s functionality once it is developed. Then a report of its scope and limitations will be made.
This ensures that no “surprises” arise once implemented or in advanced development. With this report, you ensure that the system will do what you expect, and those responsible for development ensure that you will not claim anything that has not been agreed upon.
Whether you decide on a canned vs custom software development, this stage is an excellent opportunity to review your company’s procedures and discuss which ones can be improved.
Canned Software Vs Custom Software: System Design and Development
With canned software, you will not be able to participate in the design and development of the system. The system is already developed. This has the great advantage that it is not necessary to contemplate the time of its design and development. The downside is that users will have to get used to the new product as it is: eg. the graphical interface (what the system looks like).
Although today’s canned software offers excellent functionality and flexibility, it should be noted that customers who use it often end up adapting to the methodologies proposed by canned software in canned vs custom software. If you have a particular procedure, it will be difficult for the provider to give you a customized solution if it cannot be placed on the market for other clients.
In custom software, the professionals hired to develop it will involve future users in its design and development. The developer will probably make the components of the system, and the users will suggest improvements or adjustments to them as they test it (typically partial deliveries of the system are made).
A significant advantage of developing your system is that you will be able to intervene in the decision of the technology to use for the development of the system: database engine (depending on the number of transactions, etc.), web or desktop environment, operating system, programming language, report format, etc.
Another advantage is the possibility of acquiring the source code (which has a high cost, usually double the value of the system). Owning the source code allows you not to be “tied” to your supplier, since, in the future, you can put the system update in the hands of other system professionals.
Canned Vs Custom Software: Starting the system
When you buy a canned system, the supplier will surely give you a package that contains the installation CDs, the user licenses, a user manual, and one or more security devices that prevent piracy (illegal use of the system).
Then, suitable professionals (provided by the system provider or NOT) will install and then parameterize the system so that it adapts to your company’s requirements, and to make the best possible use of the functionality provided by the system.
The implementation stage will take more or less time, depending on the complexity of the system and the complexity of your business processes. The cost of implementation will be variable (as opposed to the cost of acquiring the system).
In custom software, the implementation is usually fast (you don’t have to configure so many parameters since the system was made to order). But of course, you have to wait for the design and development stage to be completed, which will depend on the complexity of the system. The system is often implemented in stages (partial implementation).
canned software vs custom software: System errors
A canned system is subjected to testing and strict quality control before being launched on the market (once launched it is used by hundreds of clients, and if it were launched with errors, the technical support department of the supplier company would collapse). However, no system is without error.
If the client detects an error, it will report the problem to the supplier company, which corrects the inconvenience and includes the solution in the next system update. If it is a serious error, it will issue a Service Pack (an update released to the market to correct the error immediately). This makes it unlikely (but not impossible) to run into bugs in a canned system. Without a doubt, this is a great advantage.
A custom-developed system must also be subjected to severe testing and quality control. But it will only be implemented in your company. That is why custom systems tend to have more errors once launched. When you compare canned vs custom software. On the other hand, we can say that the errors are solved almost immediately (you don’t have to wait for an upgrade to be issued to launch it on the market).
Maintenance and technical support
The companies that provide a canned system usually offer subscriptions for technical support. This support includes guidance to the user regarding the use of the system (which can be by telephone or mail). Other tasks will indeed have to be paid for separately.
Custom system development companies also often provide maintenance subscriptions and technical support. This includes user guidance, reporting, and bug fixes. Some subscriptions also include hours for programming new functions in the system. In these companies, the attention is usually more personalized since they do not have hundreds of clients but rather a few critical clients. This is extremely valuable.
System update (upgrades)
Canned systems are usually up to date in terms of technology and tools as the market demands them. This is a great advantage. In addition, in each system update, more functionality is included (as customers request improvements, they are incorporated into the system).
That is why the system provider regularly releases system updates on the market. Of course, these updates have a cost, and you have to adapt to the provider’s times.
Custom systems are usually updated in technology and grow in functionality as the client requests it. In comparison to canned vs custom software, The advantage is that there is no need to wait for the provider to issue a new update, instead, it is requested and the delivery times are established. The bespoke system will be able to grow as your business does. The disadvantage is that the update cost will fall solely on you (the rest of the clientele does not share it).
Resistance to change: canned vs custom software
Whatever your decision, both with the implementation of a canned system and with the implementation of a custom system, a factor known as “Resistance to change” will be presented among users. This factor occurs in the system stabilization period, characterized by the discontent of users who feel that “they were better before.”
It is essential that management remains firm in its decision, and provide users with support through friendly treatment and solid technical support, which guides them in carrying out the tasks that require the use of the system, and that it works correctly. Efficient in solving problems.
Hybrid systems: neither white nor black
But not everything is black and white; there are grays: Certain companies that provide canned systems cooperate with other systems professionals so that the latter can develop customized modules that complement the product.
In this way, it is possible to have a canned system for primary and standard functions with other companies (eg, accounting) and modules developed to measure specific functions of the client, totally integrated. Visit theinfousa.com for more content like this.