Custom vs. Off-the-Shelf Business Application Development 6 questions and answers to help you choose

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Any enterprise that reached a certain development level found itself pendulating in this choice: off-the-shelf software or custom software? Which would it be better to use to develop the business even more?

What is off-the-shelf software? Once installed on your company’s IT devices, it is a software solution and is ready to use.

What is custom software? It is a software solution that is developed following specific requirements and specifications.

Because off-the-shelf is developed to ensure its usability for a vast number of businesses, there is the risk that it might not be suited for your specific needs, thus being forced to customize it later.

There is also a massive gap between these two software types in performance, capabilities, and usability. Regardless, you have to consider that both of these solutions have their own merits. Let’s go through these merits and help you decide which is better for your business.


#1 We need to talk about costs

Regardless of the price of the software solution, you should take into account your business needs. Do you need a fast-to-market solution, or are you planning to create something new that would awe your customers? At the same time, consider where your business is on the market – are you a challenger or a leader of the market. Each of these situations requires a different solution because your business needs are different. Besides that, you should also consider that the competition is always there, ready to wipe you out of your place whatever your decision.

An off-the-shelf product will ensure your short and medium-term position, and it is not as expensive as a custom-developed product; at the same time, it will boost your status and clientele. On the other hand, the customized product is developed specifically for your business needs as a whole, for the long term.

Many companies underestimate the time and resources needed to develop custom software internally. The development team needs to consider the initial design, development, testing, implementation costs, lifetime costs of support, header upgrades, patches, and general maintenance. Frequently, the internal team seems like the best idea, but the costs grow exponentially. Read more about it here.

So what is the correct answer when it comes to costs? The answer is simple – you.

Let’s take a look at Roweb examples.

We developed Invoicer – an invoice management software for faster and error-free financial transactions & tracking. It is a complex but intuitive financial system that simplifies and automates the invoice management process at multiple levels and economic activities.

The Invoice Management Software is shaped as a digital framework capable of integrating different financial actions and operations to ensure productivity through intelligent filters and automated features.

Based on the project’s requirements – mainly defined by our colleagues from the financial department – we’ve designed an invoice management platform that can respond to both users’ and managers’ needs.

Our primary focus for developing this invoice management software was on providing flexible tools for data management and export, smart data displaying for a faster and better overview, and automated processes for eliminating redundant and time-consuming activities.

Features & functionalities

  • Adding users or granting the right to use the application for existing users in the field;
  • Easier management of companies and customers financial profiles;
  • Listing, filtering, exporting the data recorded in reports for each client;
  • Generating, managing (editing, issuing, reversing, copying, deleting, emailing, adding tags) and downloading invoices;
  • Setting recurrence dates for the invoices – recurring invoices are generated automatically;
  • Downloading, filtering (by status, currency, time interval), and activating (ignoring/adding to reports/invoices, assigning/removing tags, partial/total payment) of the invoice list;
  • Generating and managing proforma invoices (editing, invoice transformation, pdf download, printing);
  • Generating proformas directly from schedule application;
  • Listing the history of proforma invoices that have become invoices;
  • The possibility of transforming the proforma invoices into regular invoices if these have been deleted;
  • Launching and recording the transactions on the companies’ accounts;
  • Displaying charts with the transactions’ evolution:
    • chart based on all currencies in transactions related to their amount;
    • graph with Euro’s and Ron’s development over time – in Transactions;
  • The listing, filtering, and exporting payments;
  • Product listing and management;
  • Exchange rate listing and management.

Read more about it


We had a client who was just entering the Romanian market. Considering his business needs, he opted for a custom software solution to help him get fast on the market while considering the competition and having a need to differentiate themselves. As we have over 16 years of deploying dedicated teams with high experience in multiple industries, we managed to have them up fastly and running.

We built a responsive presentation website based on WordPress, integrated a blog and Top Agent’s social media pages, and a custom multi-criteria search function. We also added a position based on a previous software solution that enables our client to manage properties, contacts, emails, and reports quickly and simplify the transaction process.

To respond to the agents’ specific needs, we also implemented a function that enables multiple listings. Through this feature, the properties in its database become visible on the website. That allows a real estate agent to sell a property under an exclusive representation agreement with another agent in exchange for a predetermined sales commission.

What are the top benefits:

  • a reliable one-stop-shop offer;
  • a custom version of our WHISE CRM web service;
  • perfect integration of the website with the CRM;
  • extended maintenance and support;
  • easily navigable and streamlined design;
  • effortless responsiveness to visitors’ needs;
  • complex and advanced real estate features;
  • a custom multi-criteria search function;
  • external Flex MLS service for enabling multiple listing;
  • intuitive and clean website’s content architecture;
  • management made it easy for properties, contacts, emails, and reports.

Read more about it


#2 Which is more comfortable to implement?

App development is not a piece of cake. Coding is just one aspect of the overall application development process. Objectives and monitoring, app design, UX, testing, and other critical software elements are all challenging tasks that require highly qualified and experienced professionals.

Theoretically, developing custom software inside the company may appear to be an appealing and controllable environment. Businesses could find such developmental tasks a distraction from their core focus, besides the need for high skills to pull it off. Internal IT assets may have already been engaged in routine maintenance activities and ensuring every department runs smoothly. Thus development work might be a burden on their efficiency, so maybe it would be best for your company to look for an outsourcing company.

The software itself is the core focus of off-the-shelf software developers and incorporates agile and other best practices. They’re also keeping up with changing technology to stay ahead of the game. Therefore, before it is released on the market, the software will be extensively tested and tested and glitches ironed out.


#3 The Need for Deep Customization

Enterprises that seek to develop a fundamental and generic platform to manage standard routine features, such as email solutions, discussion forums, and file sharing, are ‘reinventing the wheel.’ It is foolish to develop internal software when industry leaders such as Google, Microsoft, and others offer advanced, scalable, and secure solutions customized with an enterprise name.

Likewise, those looking for a CRM suite would do well to pick up any of the ready-made CRM suites available on the market. Like those developed by Roweb, most such suites are highly matured products offering a high functionality level and the option to pick-and-choose the required modules.


#4 Upgrades

Off-the-shelf products have regular updates, which may not be all that heavy on the pocket. Also, if you’re looking for a quality product, you might enjoy impeccable customer support. But sometimes, they may not be updated for an extended period, so you may need to work with an outdated product that harms your business. Even when you buy off-the-shelf products, you are choosing a partner. Having a partner like Roweb can ensure you are always getting your best type of solution at any given time.

Investing in custom software solutions, you have the freedom to make any changes you want, whenever you want. You are always independent of the decisions you make about the software. You don’t have to wait for new releases or introductions to add features to your software. Whether it’s an upgrade or changes you need to make to include new tasks and operations, you can get them done on a customized basis.


#5 Scalability

Scalability is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing technology for your business. Your software should be scalable enough to meet your business’s current requirements and make room for future additions. As your business grows, you might need to add features, and maybe even departments, to the software you’re using. That’s why it’s always better to get your software built in a scalable way. Here is an example of how a software solution scaled throughout the years, and the client outsourced his needs to our company.

Roweb has a history of off-the-shelf solutions that transitioned into something bigger, transforming into custom software, like this real estate solution. Check out our portfolio to learn more.


#6 Competitive advantage

If your company already has multiple services/products on the market and just wants something to boost your presence, an off-the-shelf CRM solution to organize your clients better and understand their needs is better than custom software. If your market analysis reveals that you need a software solution for your business, we can easily customize our dedicated teams’ answers.

If you want to create a service or product, you should use software made exclusively for your business with all kinds of unique features and specifications that other companies do not have. That is why you have a competitive advantage over your competitors with your unique solution.

If you are building a solution just for your business over its specific requirements, custom software would be perfect, and, therefore, satisfaction would be guaranteed. As experts have already said, you need to adopt software and align it with your business process, not the other way round.


Why Roweb is the answer to all these questions

We are more than 130+ developers. We have a multitude of solutions ready to be used and we can offer you a complete team of experienced developers.

Saving time on the whole hiring process has never been easier. You will benefit from the experience of more than 17 years of being on the market, with teams that developed from the company’s beginning and are specialized in industries like: recruiting & HR, real estate, retail & e-commerce, tourism & hospitality, charity, and non-profits, associations, insurance, financial services, IT equipment trading/reclaiming, transport and logistics, e-health, to name a few.

It’s easy to start a new project with us. Contact us here and sends us all the details regarding your business needs. We will contact you as soon as possible with a brief and a cost (if the information you send us is complete).



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