• Brendon Koh

The Problem With Off-The-Shelf Apps

Updated: Jun 30, 2021

An off-the-shelf application may seem like an easy solution for your B2B needs, but more often than not these programs are built to address specific pain points – while ignoring others. Purchasing pre-packaged enterprise solutions usually cause businesses to end up having to find additional applications to fill these gaps, which can be counterproductive in the long run.

Let’s review the problem with off-the-shelf applications and why investing in a custom software solution is the best way to help your firm with going digital.

They are Too Generic

The main issue with off-the-shelf applications is that they are too generic. These applications are not created with your business in mind – the developers make them for everyone on the market!

The software companies that develop pre-packaged enterprise solutions cannot invest in features that only a niche industry needs, since their other customers will not justify paying for them. You may see suggestions for features met with "we will take this into consideration" – meaning we understand you want this, but it probably doesn't make sense for us to make this a standard feature.

As a result, the features that are offered are useful for basic business needs – but they will not allow you to create a competitive advantage and move ahead of your competitors. You may be able to pay extra to customize a few aspects of the solution, but it will likely not be enough to support your specific business processes.

The worst thing that could happen is that you purchase an off-the-shelf application, and it only meets half of your needs – so you end up buying another one, or two, or three pre-packaged software solutions to try to and make up for what the original product is missing.

Remember that the goal of the application is to help your business with automation and digitalization – not to complicate your business processes with a new system that doesn't even have all of the features you need to accomplish this effectively.

Since off-the-shelf applications are so generic, you may find that it decreases employee efficiency – since they have to find frustrating workarounds to make the process work – and your bottom line.

With a custom software application, you can be sure every feature you need to help your business grow its bottom – as well as create a competitive advantage - is built-in. These features will allow you to take your B2B enterprise to the next level.

Integration is Limited

Off-the-shelf applications tend to offer very limited integration capabilities. When these software developers create the application, they do not have your systems in mind – they are catering to the general market. This means that they may integrate well with certain popular systems, but they will most not integrate easily with your existing applications and processes.

This leads to what we call the sunk cost fallacy – you have already invested in this pre-packaged solution, so now you have to dish out additional funds to retrofit them to work with your existing systems. You may need to purchase middleware so that the applications will talk to each other, or you may have to pay developers to correct the issue.

Many companies that offer generic applications claim that they can make them work with almost any system. However, what they do not disclose is that this is not included in the cost of the software and may not even be possible without working backward to meet your needs with additional products.

If you start with custom development services, this issue is eliminated. You will know exactly what the system is capable of upfront, thus ensuring it will easily integrate with your existing applications and that your business processes can be fully automated and digitalized.

The Platform is Not Yours

Another problem with off-the-shelf applications is that at the end of the day they do not belong to your company. While they may be a cheap solution in the short term, as your business grows and changes you will end up spending more on upgrades and additional user licenses.

Soon you may find that you are paying way more than you thought for the application and you do not own it – so you do not get the benefits of including it as a business asset! A pre-packaged solution is nothing more than a subscription or a product when it comes to your financial statements, so you do not get the benefits of capitalizing it as an asset – which is an investment in your business. By the same measure, since you do not own the application, you are not legally allowed to copy it, modify it, or re-sell it.

With a custom software solution, you own the application. This gives you the right to modify it as your business processes evolve – without having to start over or purchase a new application. Imagine how far ahead of your competitors you could be if you could adapt your systems as needed when industry trends shift! You can consider a custom enterprise solution an asset to your business, which allows you to take advantage of all the financial benefits associated with it.

Custom Development Services

As you can see, when you are going digital and working towards business process automation, you have two choices: buying an off-the-shelf application or investing in custom software that meets your specific business needs.

For most B2B organizations that are looking for an enterprise solution that can fully integrate into business processes, custom development services are the best option.

Pre-packaged software will only offer a temporary fix. Eventually, you will need an enterprise solution that will scale alongside your business, integrate with your existing systems, and help you develop a competitive advantage that cannot be replicated.

By working with an agency like Automate Labs you can have peace of mind that your enterprise solution will be tailored to your unique business needs – without breaking the bank. Our experts help organizations across a wide variety of industries to streamline processes and workflows and facilitate the automation and integration of your new custom software.

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