posted on March 27, 2011 19:18
Your business is a reflection of your business ideas. When you want to automate some business process you need to decide whether to use Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) software or have custom software written.
The degree of success your business can achieve is greatly influenced by how well your software meets your needs. This is not always easy, while you might be an expert in your business; you may not have much experience in translating business needs in to software.
The following Pros and Cons are provided to help you make your decision:
Pros and Cons
Pre-written or COTS software may be right for you, but like anything there are pros and cons. Most COTS software is written using conventional techniques.
- Development cost shared by users, so software costs less.
- Features you might not know you need are included. This is especially important if you really don't know the business you’re in. If you want to start a retail store and you don't know anything about the retail business, your first purchase may be a good Point-of-Sale package to help you serve your customers, capture your sales, and maintain an accurate record of inventory.
- Software is more reliable because more users equal less bugs. This of course assumes a mature package; it doesn't apply if you are one of the first users of the package.
- Software is available right away because it is already written.
- COTS software usually does not have all the functionality you might need. If you really know your business it is highly probable that you have ideas that the software doesn't implement.
- You need to adjust your workflow and processes to match the software.
- Updates are on the vendors schedule not your schedule.
- If you have customised your COTS software and the vendor stops support for the version you are using you may have to pay for some or all of the customisations again.
- Software targets only the platform that the vendor picks.
- Software has a bunch of features you don't need and don't want. COTS software has to be designed to work with lots of businesses, not just yours. This extra code adds extra bugs and frequently more complex configuration to the software. One thing for sure, whether you use it or not, you pay for it.