The Advantages and Disadvantages of Bespoke Software

The world is a highly competitive place, and any company that doesn’t have a digital strategy to increase productivity is at risk from competitors who do. Every area of a business is a candidate for improvement.

Bespoke software comes in many forms, from Excel spreadsheets costing a few pounds to IBM mainframe packages costing millions.

This post describes some of the main advantages of bespoke versus off-the-shelf software, starting with advantages:

Competitive Advantage

For any particular application, from rostering to bed management to billing, there are hundreds of COTS (commercial off the shelf) products available. Delivered as SaaS (software as a service) or shrink-wrapped stand-alone packages.

If you are using a COTS solution, chances are it will do 90% of what you need, and you will be left taking extra time (and making extra errors) over the last 5%.

With bespoke software, it will do everything that you need it to do – leaving you with more time for your business.

Delivery & Extensibility

It is possible to pay for updates to COTS software, but it can be expensive and not the top priority of the providers. One of the advantages of bespoke software is that you own it, so you can modify it as and when you need.

Support & Maintainability

Bespoke software is yours to keep or retire or upgrade. Nobody else controls it. Unlike off-the-shelf software that leaves you at the mercy of the product owner who may one day withdraw support or retire a major version number and create a new class of license for a new revision – requiring more money at a stroke.

Off-the-shelf software can lock you into a dependency, so-called ‘velcro-ware’ that can be expensive to get out of.


There are no per-user fees with bespoke software. There are no ongoing licensing fees. You only pay for the features that you need. There will be no un-announced over-night ‘upgrades’ to disrupt your business.

Now for some of the disadvantages of bespoke software:

Higher Initial Costs

You will need to pay development costs up front. Though you can start with a minimum viable product (MVP) and add features as you go.

May Take More Time

Your requirements will need to be captured from the outset. Often this means much more thinking ahead – which could be thought of as an advantage.


Make sure you choose a reputable developer. Remember that the last 5% takes 80% of the effort. So choose a supplier with a track record of success.


Finally – if you want to find out more, please contact us:

Contact us on, call 01962 920 128 or via our contact form.