4 Things To Consider Before Purchasing Off The Shelf Software

15 May, 2017 Blog, General

4 Things To Consider Before Purchasing Off The Shelf Software

There are numerous advantages to using standard off the shelf software (COTS), they can be very useful business tools that increase productivity. But there are some adverse aspects that you need to consider before purchasing an off the shelf package, and this blog will help you decide if COTS is the right option for your organisation.


Often off the shelf software vendors are slow to adapt or change their product(s) to industry requirements because their software is made to suit a wider audience, and if a particular change of functionality does not benefit the majority of the customer base, it will be less of a priority for them.

Customising COTS can often be an impossible or expensive task, which means that your business will have to operate the way the software is developed, not the way you want or need to work to increase operational efficiency.


Even if you decide not to take on the expensive cost of altering an off the shelf software package, you will often end up paying more than you would have for a bespoke software solution. If your company is paying monthly or yearly throughout the lifecycle of the package, the total cost of ownership can often be significant and rival if not outweigh the initial investment in custom built software.

Regular upgrades can be seen as a benefit of pre-built software, but sometimes vendors will charge for these updates and if organisations choose not to upgrade their support is longer available, which pressures customers to pay even more money.


Sometimes support from the vendor can be hard to acquire and very slow service, which could put users in limbo and make the package inefficient until the issue is resolved. On the other hand, COTS tends to have online communities that share their issues and support other users in solving any problems they have, which is something that businesses that have bespoke software developed don’t get.


Vendors usually develop COTS to be suitable for as many companies/sectors as possible, resulting in a package that you may only use 25% of, but your organisation pays the total cost.

An example of a product we all probably use is Microsoft Word, do you use all of the functionality available to you in Word? Probably not, but you have to pay for all of the functionality anyway. That’s way off the shelf software solutions work, so your organisation will use and require certain functionality, but will also have to pay for other elements that you will never use and this added and unnecessary functionality can often be confusing and cause users problems.


However, this doesn’t mean that off the shelf software isn’t a very powerful, useful tool for organisations, but it’s important you engage with vendors before purchasing any business software solution and discuss any reservations you have. To learn more about choosing a good, reliable software provider read our blog.


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