Many companies rely on mobile apps for their operation and connecting to their customers. Some businesses survive on mobile apps (take the case of Uber) while others use it to empower their employees and help in their work.
Then there are some companies who don’t need an app at all.
But the latest trends show an increasing number of enterprises going for custom app development to suit their needs. You can also opt for prebuilt off-the-shelf apps which are sold just like computer software. So, what do you need to know when it comes to the debate between off-the-shelf software versus custom software?
Choosing Between Off the Shelf Software and Custom Software Development
Some companies will just do fine with a prebuilt app while for others it can be the biggest mistake. Whether you need custom app development or off-the-shelf apps depends on a lot of factors.
Here we will help you decide which one will be perfect for your business.
1. Determine your Needs
The very first thing to consider is the needs of your business and what you want the app for.
Prebuilt apps are developed to serve the common needs of the industry. If your app has to do something very specific and unique, chances are that you won’t find a readymade solution.
Also, if your business idea or need is a new one that doesn’t exist in the market, then you will need to go for custom app development.
Uber developed their own app when it hit the market and there were no other such services at that time. But now you will find many Uber clone apps offered by various app developers.
2. Consider the Marketing Time
Many businesses want to market their app as fast as they can. In that case off-the-shelf apps make sense if they serve your needs. They can be purchased instantly and the customization also doesn’t take much time.
On the other hand, it will take time to custom develop your app. Everything will begin from scratch, codes will be written, design will be made, testing will be carried out and so on.
But the time that goes into custom app development gives you higher returns and better performance. The app development team puts their whole effort in your app and the quality is much far better than prebuilt apps.
3. Do you need your Own Branding?
The branding approach of your company is another important factor that determines whether you need a custom app or not.
The design and layout of your branding should be consistent with all the portals or touchpoints of the company. Your website, brochures, social media pages, and your mobile app should give the same feel when somebody views them.
With custom apps, you can create your own design and put or remove anything you want. Prebuilt apps also have options of customizing the color scheme, fonts and putting in your company logo. But the options are far limited and you may not be able to get the look that you desire.
It makes sense to custom-develop your app when it will be used by your customers.
4. Do you need all the Features?
The prebuilt apps sometimes come with a lot of features just to make them attractive to customers. But ask yourself if you will really need all those features. Too much is not always good and can reduce the user-friendliness of the app.
Also, your customers may find it difficult to do what they need and get confused with so many things. The steep learning curve will also be detrimental to your employees and their performance.
So if you need to stay away from unnecessary features and keep it simple, custom app development becomes the preferred choice.
With the growth of your company, comes the need to scale your business operations. You will also need to scale your mobile app along with operations with new features or functions as required.
The off-the-shelf mobile apps are difficult to scale and it’s not at all possible for some of them. Only with a custom app, you can gain scalability along with your business growth.
7. Integration with Company Hardware
The Internet of Things is not a new thing anymore in this app-connected world. From TV sets to refrigerators, more and more appliances are being controlled and monitored through mobile apps.
If you manufacture such app-controlled products, then custom app development is the way to go.
Many industrial product manufacturers also need a mobile app to control or monitor their machines. For example, a worker operating the lathe can use a mobile app to start or stop it remotely. Industrial generators are also using mobile apps now to track battery percentage, and water level and even control it.
Chances are bleak that you will find a prebuilt app that connects to the software loaded in your product. In that case you will need to opt for custom app development.
8. Maintenance of the App
Maintenance of the prebuilt apps is provided by the vendors who develop them. In the case of custom apps, you have to take on the responsibility.
All updates and issues will be handled by your own team or the developer you hire. It will require more commitment and expense from your side but you will be in total control of the process. You can decide when to update your app or add new functions and implement it instantly.
Readymade apps will save you the cost and effort, but you won’t be able to maintain it the way you want. You have to depend on the app vendor.
Prebuilt apps are not the best of performers. They are a fit for all solutions and often suffer from slow performance and other drawbacks.
When you have app developers creating a custom app, performance is never compromised. Everything is tested several times so that the best can be offered. You can also release fixes and updates after deploying the app if you find some performance issues.
Custom apps provide greater satisfaction to your customers and employees and always offer optimum performance.
10. Control over Codes
The codes of the off-the-shelf apps are reusable and belong to the vendor you license it from. They are used in all similar apps the vendor creates and sells to other companies.
While it may not be an issue for most, many organizations would like total control over their app. Ownership rights become crucial when your app is unique and you want to prohibit others from imitating it.
In that case, you need to custom-develop your mobile app.
11. Budget and Resources
Custom app development needs a considerable budget and resources. You have to hire app developers and pay them all through the development stage. Then you need to set something aside for the maintenance part.
Going for off-the-shelf apps will save you on the cost and they generally are cheaper than custom-developed apps. So it makes sense for many small companies or startups low on resources and finance to opt for them.
So when should you go for a custom mobile app?
Custom app development makes sense if you don’t find an off-the-shelf app that serves your needs.
So if you got the budget and resources and the custom app provides a justified return on investment, go for it. There are many advantages you can enjoy like –
- Simple, straightforward app with only the required functions
- High performance with fast processing
- User-friendly and easy to navigate
- Oriented with business objectives
- High level of customization and personalization
- Unique branding with custom design and layout
- Having the “wow” factor in your app
- Tailored to business needs
- Scalable with company growth
According to CDW Enterprise Mobile App Report, custom apps helped employees to save time ranging around 7.5 hours each week. 82% of companies also expressed that it helped them generate more revenues.
We hope you have now more information and can confidently decide whether you need a custom app or not.