Off-The-Shelf vs Bespoke Software

Posted by Netmatters

Grants for Software Development: Are you Eligible? 

As a business owner, you may be considering the use of software to help drive efficiency, security, or scalability within your business. There is a world of options open to you and one of the hardest decisions is whether to buy something off the shelf, or to commission a bespoke build. Whilst off-the-shelf software offers a quick option, bespoke software provides a more effective, long-term solution. In this article, we explain how this is the case, and why you should be choosing a bespoke software build over an off-the shelf alternative.

Tailored to Your Processes

Firstly, by having your own bespoke software solution, you are using a product that is specifically built to your business’ processes and workflows, whereas an off-the-shelf solution is designed meet the needs of a wide variety of different businesses across a plethora of sectors. This means that you will not have to adapt your workflows or processes to a new system, as the system is built around you.

For example, Birchwood Energy were struggling with a lack of clarity and growing complexity created by their working procedures, so we built them a bespoke admin system that streamlines and manages all of their processes within an online cloud-based system, removing the dependence on offline tools that are subject to the reliability of the devices they are stored on.

The system has been tailored perfectly around their working needs – as well as the needs of their customer base – meaning they did not need to adjust or change internal processes and were able to continue operating in the way that best works for them. This is invaluable when considering the complex transitional processes that may be needed with an off-the-shelf solution.

The team at Netmatters are doing a great job for me, I love the system, best thing I ever did. - Warren Munday, Birchwood Energy

Simple & Efficient

Additionally, a study by Standish found that only 20% of the features in any software package are used by the customer, meaning that businesses are paying for a vast number of features with their off-the-shelf products that their employees are not actually using. Therefore, as bespoke software is built towards your business processes, you are only pay for the functionality that your business needs, whilst also simplifying the use and management of the product. Instead of having to navigate a complex off-the-shelf interface crammed with unnecessary features and modules, bespoke software soutions cuts through the noise and ensures that you have the functions you need to manage your business effectively.

Grants for Software Development: Are you Eligible?

Custom Integrations

In addition to being tailored to your existing processes, bespoke software can also integrate with programmes such as Microsoft Office 365 or Xero’s Accountancy Platform that may already be integral to your business.

Most of these key business programmes are connectable to additional software which means developers are able to build a bespoke solution that can directly feed into these platforms and pass data between them seamlessly.

Developing bespoke software which can talk to these platforms can improve efficiencies and reduce the need for data duplication, such as manually exporting data from one system, only to then import it into another – as can be the case with an off-the-shelf product.

Take a look at how we can connect your business using our bespoke system integrations.

A Long-Term, Scalable Solution

A bespoke solution is tailored to your business not just in terms of functionality, but also in terms of its ability to scale as your business grows. Unlike off-the-shelf software, you are not punished by having to pay for a ‘premium’ package for more users and features as your business develops. Once your bespoke software is built, it can continue to take on increasing capacity and integrations as you scale.

You Have the Competitive Edge

We also need to look at what these products offer in comparison to your market competitors. If your competitors are using the same software as you, chances are they are just as efficient as you. Developing your own software means you can implement new ideas to help promote efficiency within the daily workflow that are not available to your competitors.

For example, Harvard Business Review estimates employees waste 14 minutes per day sorting emails - at Netmatters we have over 100 employees which would cause 1,400 minutes to be lost every day to emails. However, our in-house software, Sysflow, frees up this time by automatically sorting emails with help from our AI assistant Sofia. This allows our team to spend less time on admin tasks, and more time delivering results for our clients.

This kind of functionality with bespoke software helps give a competitive edge that is not available with off-the-shelf solutions.

Grants for Software Development: Are you Eligible?

Asset on the Register

Finally, if you develop a bespoke software solution for your business, you will own all of the rights to the software, meaning that you can add it as an asset on your register, therefore increasing the value of your company.

According to FRS 102, for your business to recognize software as an asset your software must meet these criteria: 

(a) it is probable that the expected future economic benefits that are attributable to the asset will flow to the entity; and (b) the cost or value of the asset can be measured reliably.

(b) The cost or value of the asset can be measured reliably 

Please note you should speak to an accountant or legal professional for official advice regarding whether or not your business can have software as an asset on the register.   


Bespoke software development offers a more effective, efficient, and scalable solution for your business that can integrate, adapt to, and manage your key processes and workflows. Whilst off-the-shelf software may seem like a faster option, you will be left with a more complicated product that is unable to support the requirements of your business as you grow.

If you are looking for a long-term solution that gives you the edge over your competition, commissioning a bespoke software build is the way to go. Netmatters have an experienced software development team who can work with most coding languages and have a proven track record of delivering high-quality solutions in a timely fashion.

To commission your own bespoke software solution, or to seek assistance with updating an existing platform, get in touch with our development specialists today on 01603 515007 to book an in-depth consultation.

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