Should You Develop Your Own Custom Software: A Brief Look

Sshekhar Jha
April 25, 2022

A lot of companies today that rely on software to build products are faced with a perennial question: Should they create their custom software, or should we customise an existing software to best suit their development needs. In this article, we shall try to figure out a better alternative or whether either option is equally applicable.

But first, what is custom software development? 

Simply put, Custom Software Development is the process of designing, creating, deploying and maintaining for a specific set of users, functions or organisations. It allows for room to pick and choose elements of software that are most beneficial to the development process of a specific user. 

An excellent example of developing custom software is an app designed by a bank to facilitate online banking. It comes with a unique set of requirements and has specific offerings that it wants to present its users with.

Uses of Custom Software Development

Custom software is most useful when an organisation is looking to create a product that caters to one specific need for a pre-defined demographic of users. It allows for a more focussed approach towards building the product and the elements therein by keeping in mind the end-user.

That understanding of a pre-defined offering and demographic can also be extended to building the software itself. Developing custom software generally consists of three parts :

Application Customisation, which means modifying off the shelf software to support specific individual requirements.

Application Modernisation, which plays a significant role in making sure that the custom software can continuously evolve to suit the changing needs of users

Application Management, which adds to the app's effectiveness by providing users with regular updates, installation assistance, the ability to optimise for performance and other ancillary functions.

A few benefits of designing your own custom software can be:

Efficiency: Custom software is developed with a particular focus in mind to support internal processes swiftly and productively.

Scalability: A custom-built software has room to expand its capabilities as the organisation grows in size. It has the potential to add more features and functionality as time goes on, which gives developers plenty to experiment with.

Low Integration Costs: Custom made software, unlike pre-packaged software, can be built to integrate with any intended environment and at much lower costs.

Profitable: An organisation that builds its own custom software can always choose to licence it to other firms in the future and generate revenue for themselves.

So now that we know the meaning uses, and advantages of developing custom software. The next question is Should you build your own custom software.

Here are a few things that you need to keep in consideration while making that decision:

Project Requirements

The kind of project that you’ve undertaken has a considerable bearing on deciding whether you need to build custom software from scratch or whether you can do with existing software by modifying it in some areas. This is critical so that you don’t end up devoting too much time and resources to developing custom software, taking time away from building the actual product.

This decision will also have an impact on how much you charge for your project, as well as the time it would take you to deliver the final product.

Compatibility with existing software

If you feel that the existing software products in the market aren’t cutting it in terms of the functionality you need, then you’re better off developing your own. That way, you can design it the way you want, according to your requirements and specifications. Not just that, you can also licence your software to other firms in the future and bring in more revenue.

Data-Driven Decisions

If you’d like your decisions to be driven by numbers, and you don’t have software that gives you enough data, you can always choose to create software that enables access to a more extensive data field, hence improving your ability to make business decisions.


It goes without saying, but if you feel that using existing software is proving to be too financially draining, you could look into developing software that isn’t as costly. Since you’ll be developing in-house software, you can allocate funds, where you deem necessary and eliminate expenses on elements that you don’t feel are as crucial for your business.

Size of Business

The size of your business is a significant determinant in deciding whether you’d like to use existing software or not. It ties back to the costs involved, the person-hours that’ll need to be spent and the size of the project you’ve chosen to deliver. If you’re a relatively small business, you need to make calculations regarding the trade-off you can afford between producing projects and developing your own software.

Now that you know what you need to consider, let’s also look at a build vs buy analysis so that you have a clearer perspective:

One analysis you need to make is to see if an existing pre-packaged software is >80% capable of performing functions required to:

  • Automate business processes
  • Handle industry-specific data
  • Comply with unique security requirements
  • Facilitate integration with legacy systems
  • Replace existing solutions at a lower cost and simultaneously boost productivity
  • Increase competitiveness
  • Facilitate growth and adaptability in the future

Building a custom software solution from the ground up can be challenging and time-consuming. It takes the devotion of plenty of human capital as well as a thorough understanding of your own business needs and goals. 

On the flip side, once you have your own solution, you’re in complete control of how you use it. You don’t need to be dependent on pre-packaged software to build products. A little investment of time and money can yield enormous benefits for a significant amount of time.

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