Off-the-shelf and Custom Software – When, Why, and the best Combination Strategy

Off-the-shelf and Custom Software - When, Why, and the best Combination Strategy

Off-the-shelf and Custom Software – When, Why, and the best Combination Strategy

As technology moves, we have more choices to find the most suitable software for our business growth. Between Off-the-Shelf Software and Custom Software, have you ever thought about using its combination – the Off-the-Shelf Custom Software strategy? On the other hand, do you know when to use an Off-the-shelf solution and why not at a particular point in time? The same question is for Custom Software.

Before diving into details, why don’t we have a look at the similarities and differences between these software solutions?

Table of Contents hide
  1. 1) Off-the-shelf Software vs. Custom Software
    1. 1.1) What are these?
    2. 1.2) Similarity
    3. 1.3) Difference
  2. 2) When – Why to use Off-the-shelf Software
    1. 2.1) Determinants
      1. 2.1.1) Cost
      2. 2.1.2) Implementation
      3. 2.1.3) Company needs
      4. 2.1.4) Orientation phase
      5. 2.1.5) User community
    2. 2.2) Why should we use an Off-the-shelf Software?
    3. 2.3) When is the most suitable time for an Off-the-shelf Solution?
      1. 2.3.1) Dropbox
      2. 2.3.2) Google Calendar
  3. 3) When – Why to develop Custom Software
    1. 3.1) Determinants
      1. 3.1.1) Cost
      2. 3.1.2) Implementation
      3. 3.1.3) Company needs
      4. 3.1.4) Support & Maintenance
    2. 3.2) Why should we use an Off-the-shelf Software?
    3. 3.3) When is the most suitable time for Custom Software?
  4. 4) What about the Off-the-shelf Custom software combination strategy?
    1. 4.1) Why do we need this combination?
    2. 4.2) When do we need this combination?
    3. 4.3) How to combine them together?
      1. 4.3.1) A Custom Software built as an extensive part of the Off-the-shelf Solution
      2. 4.3.2) A Custom Software built to support the connection between 2+ Off-the-shelf Software
      3. 4.3.3) Embed off-the-shelf software as extensions of custom software
      4. 4.3.4) A small piece of conclusion drawn from off-the-shelf custom software combination strategy
  5. 5) Conclusion
  6. 6) Related Posts
    1. 6.1) How Economic Downturn Impact To Offshore Software Industry
    2. 6.2) Software Outsourcing Development Trends in 2022
    3. 6.3) Custom Healthcare Software Development: Unlocking Innovation
    4. 6.4) Ecommerce Development Services: The Key Role to Enhancing User Experience
    5. 6.5) Big Bang Model in Offshore Software Development
    6. 6.6) Outsourcing Custom Healthcare Solutions: Pros and Cons

Off-the-shelf Software vs. Custom Software

What are these?

The off-the-shelf solution is a full package that you can buy and use without further additional logic feature developments. Specifically, it might require installing as directed before use or can be used immediately after downloading for a few applications. Whereas, Custom software is a customized package, which is suitable for a specific group of customers.


  • Technological tools.
  • Purpose.

They are all technology solutions built on the needs and features of use from different approaches to accelerate your business processes.


Off-the-Shelf Software Custom Software
  • Cheaper at the initial stage.
  • Higher in maintenance and hidden expenses.
  • More expensive initially.
  • Low operating fee.
  • Able to use after purchases.
  • Take more time to produce.
  • Adapt a wide range of essential users’ needs on a basic level.
  • Provide a wide range of functions on a deeper level and able to adapt to specific users’ needs
Market size
  • Larger since it is built with basic essential functionalities.
  • A specific group of customers.
User community
  • A big community.
  • Time-saving and easy to have help from the community.
  • A smaller community.
  • Time-consuming and hard to have help immediately from the user community.
Support & Maintenance
  • Support centers.
  • Additional fees for new updates.
  • Lifelong support and updates.
  • No extra fee for any updates
  • On the provide side.
  • Under hackers’ eyes.
  • Both security and duty are on your side.
  • Less hackers’ notices.

Besides the notable discrepancies, there are more differences between them that you can easily find on Google such as Off-the-Shelf Software and Custom Software – What is the main difference? or The pros and cons of Off-the-shelf vs Bespoke Website Solutions

When – Why to use Off-the-shelf Software

Let’s have an in-depth look at the following factors before having a profound conclusion for these intriguing questions.



Cost has always been a headache for business owners. Don’t worry! Off-the-shelf Software would be an ideal choice, especially if you are new in the field. In addition, it is much cheaper than a bespoke solution. However, the maintenance and updates are another story due to its hidden expenses and incremental fees of monthly subscriptions.


The implementation is a plus to the off-the-shelf solution. In fact, it saves you time from waiting and testing. Also, it is built for everyone with the basic essential needs, and it won’t take you much time to get used to. In a word, you can run it right after purchase without any difficulties during the onboarding period.

Company needs

It depends on your business needs since only some require tailored software. As a matter of fact, an off-the-shelf solution provides enough basic necessary functions for users. Therefore, if you don’t have profoundly concentrated necessities, it is more suitable to have conventional off-the-shelf Software.

Orientation phase

Every business has been in this phase at least once. In the first place, it is a part of the growing process. It helps your company determine the practical requirements for future development goals. Therefore, Custom Software is not a good idea at this point but an Off-the-shelf Solution. What is the point of a huge investment in unsure things?

User community

Never look down on a big community, you will find its value in the most unexpected time.

As a basic and cheap software, Off-the-shelf solution has a larger community size than Custom Software. Therefore, if you cannot get help from the support center, you can easily get one from the user community.

Why should we use an Off-the-shelf Software?

As shown above, an Off-the-shelf Solution is affordable for any enterprise. Even if we have a monthly or yearly bill – extra expenses, to sum up, it is much lower and cheaper than Custom Software. Besides cost, it is undeniable that its:

  1. Convenience.
  2. Valuable functions.
  3. Quite a good configuration.
  4. Easy to use.

When is the most suitable time for an Off-the-shelf Solution?

With over 10 years of experience, we recommend you with an Off-the-shelf Software in case:

  • A start-up company/new in any field.
  • Do not have a clear and specific direction for app growth and any certain web/mobile app requirements.
  • A tight budget.
  • Do not have an in-house engineering team.
  • Need software to use immediately to run the operation.

No worries! I also propose some examples for your better visual imagination.


Most companies use Dropbox to store and share documents within their internal systems or share important information with a specific party. It offers free 2GB storage for any account. However, if you want to store over the free given storage, you must purchase Dropbox plans and pay the monthly or yearly bill to maintain operations.

Google Calendar

As one of the free products provided by Google, Google Calendar can create and notify online meetings or share and link documents smoothly and privately. It is free and links to your Gmail/ Google account.

When – Why to develop Custom Software

Besides Off-the-shelf Software, let’s look at what makes Custom Software Development an ideal choice for many enterprises.



Quality always comes with a price. In fact, it is more expensive than a simple and popular solution. However, it is well-tailored for a specific group of customers’ needs with a wide range of functionalities. In a word, it is a premium product for the niche market segment.

Furthermore, it avoids interruptions and effects by external parties. Together with its visual interface, as a result, it increases your products’ impressions and position in the field.


It takes you several months to plan up, build out, and test. However, it is worth your waiting time. Once it is ready to implement, your business process runs fast and seamlessly without being affected by any potential risks.

Company needs

Custom Software focuses on the primary and extra users’ needs. Also, it is an outstanding point of your business growth in the market due to its specialization. In a word, it boosts up your business process and attracts more users downloading/using your products.

Support & Maintenance

To Custom Software, support and updates are provided during its life cycle.

In HDWEBSOFT, we provide and ensure quality software performance and updates to your projects. As your trustworthy partner, we are delighted to work and achieve success together.

Why should we use an Off-the-shelf Software?

Above all, it is essential that a company consider closely these factors:

  1. Special and competitive products on the market.
  2. Worth your time.
  3. A professional and detailed app.
  4. Increase your position in the market.
  5. A wide range of functionalities.
  6. Lifetime support and maintenance.
  7. No hidden or extra expenses.

When is the most suitable time for Custom Software?

A Custom solution performs its necessity and usefulness clearly when:

  • An experienced company with a clear understanding of the functions that they need.
  • Do not have an in-house engineering team.
  • Understand their users’ needs.
  • No time pressure or any rush into use.
  • High demand for security and privacy, which other off-the-shelf products cannot provide.
  • Inadequate current off-the-shelf software to meet the company’s needs in long-term development.
  • Need software that carries the company’s core values. This is a vital stage in your development progress; therefore, do not hesitate to build your own software.

Let’s have a look at my sample below.

You are running a language school and you want to have your own designed teaching web/mobile app. Even though your current web/mobile app runs well, you aren’t satisfied with what you have.

It is the right time to choose Custom Software. Everything available on the product, you can give comments and have the outsourcing software partner complete your ideal app. From the appearance to the functionalities, you can modify and ask for changes before or after its official implementation.

What about the Off-the-shelf Custom software combination strategy?

Have you ever thought about using the off-the-shelf custom software combination in your strategy? – Off-the-shelf custom software strategy is a popular combination strategy. However, you might and might not recognize it. Let’s discover when and why we use the Off-the-shelf Custom Software combination strategy together.

Why do we need this combination?

The combination of two different software tools is no longer an impossible thing. There are a million applications available on the market for business operations. However, none of them can meet all users’ requirements. Since requirements are unique and personal, why don’t we use a tool that allows us to take advantage of each software to create the most suitable apps for each organization’s needs?

Furthermore, Off-the-shelf and Custom software have their characteristics; therefore, their combination will create peculiarities.

When do we need this combination?

This is a tricky question. Honestly, the answer comes from in-life situations.

As a matter of fact, the needs are always there, but when is this combination strategy essential and suitable? – To make the right decision, the product owner must carefully consider budgets, requirements, and necessities. Above all, whether costs and results are commensurate requires lots of time for analysis and research. With 10+ years of experience, we suggest to list the information and apply the priority scheme as follows – The Action Priority Matrix

  1. First of all, you list the major changes/features requirements to add/modify to your ideal app. Don’t forget to add the expected time to apply it to your work.
  2. Secondly, you should score the necessities together with the expenses. Obviously, ones worth your time deserve a higher score than others.
  3. Thirdly, it is time to input all changes on the Action Priority Matrix based on the score from the second stage.
  4. Last but not least, you can prioritize the essential factors and eliminate less efficient and money-wasting changes.

For instance, your current off-the-shelf software meets your requirements, but not the reporting system. It is the worst to keep the good work. Therefore, you are looking for a better reporting system to impress the investors. It is time to use the priority scheme. Let’s input each factor in order.

  • Demand for custom software to a certain extent.
  • Function as an extensive version of existing off-the-shelf software.
  • Read, analyze data, and build a reporting system as investors require.

It is time to use the priority scheme. Let’s input each factor in order.

In case you need further and in-depth advice. HDWEBSOFT, your trustworthy software development company, will be your best choice ever partner.

How to combine them together?

System integration is a purely technical issue. Therefore, a technical expert team unties your knots by analyzing and addressing your problems and then providing final decision-making opinions. As for the classification into specific solutions, we will have the following situations.

A Custom Software built as an extensive part of the Off-the-shelf Solution

This is my example situation in the previous section. It happens when your existing Off-the-shelf software requires extensive development to achieve a new experience, which is more impressive and efficient.

A Custom Software built to support the connection between 2+ Off-the-shelf Software

It is occurring while you use 2+ Off-the-shelf Software. Unfortunately, one of two existing Off-the-shelf Solutions depends on the other’s data; therefore, it takes you hours to manually export data and then import it to other software. As a result, the demand for connection software to save time, money, and resources increases. There is no doubt to build one as soon as possible.

Embed off-the-shelf software as extensions of custom software

In fact, it is undeniable that Off-the-shelf Software has done a pretty good job on some general maths. Then, the providers offer Off-the-shelf solutions with other basic features in any other software. Zendesk, as an example, provides embedded solutions so you can easily integrate them into your website.

This is an approach that you would think of within a second. Additionally, you can customize the part just like what Zendesk did when it values your work. For instance, you are a big organization with a unique customer service workflow, which is difficult for Zendesk to approach. It is the right time to build your custom Zendesk.

A small piece of conclusion drawn from off-the-shelf custom software combination strategy

Basically, combination strategies are often seen as tricky solutions. Therefore, it is mandatory that you are cautious before making decisions. Furthermore, a backup plan is preferred for every decision in every stage of the business growth. Specifically, once a problem arises between 2+ software, you can have a second temporary solution to avoid risks.


In brief, all software strategies have their own pros and cons. Therefore, you should do certain research and understand your current needs to avoid unexpected risks during your business growth process.

HDWEBSOFT, a reliable custom software development company, is always ready to assist your business. Above all, we guarantee to bring you the best-in-town experience.

Experienced developer passionate about delivering practical, innovative outsourcing software development solutions with integrity.
+84 (0)28 66809403
15 Thep Moi, Ward 12, Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City