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Boxed or Customized: Pros and Cons Boxed or Customized: Pros and Cons Minimize

Off-The-Shelf or Customized?

Off-the-shelf applications

come prepackaged with solutions that most average businesses need. If your needs are simple and you have some flexibility, you may want to find an off-the-shelf product. For example, if you need something to help organize all the phone numbers, addresses and other information on people you company deals with, you can likely find Customer Relationship software that is right for you among the many available on the shelf.

In terms of the three decision criteria discussed earlier, here’s how off-the-shelf applications stack up:

Ease of use:

Because developers build these products for the masses, a major focus is on how user-friendly the products are. To judge that for yourself, go to a computer outlet or Internet site that let’s you "test drive" the software. You should be able to understand and use the fundamental components almost immediately – that is, if you are somewhat familiar with computer technology.

Cost:

Off-the-shelf applications normally cost less than custom applications because they sell in high volume and developers design them to be do-it-yourself type products.

Time:

Chances are you’ll be up and running a lot faster with an off-the-shelf application than one of your own creation.

Customized Applications

If you can’t find what you need in an off-the-shelf product, you many want to consider hiring a programmer to design and develop an application specific to your business. You need to make sure that the new application shares a common platform with your current software so that they can talk to each other. Here’s how custom applications stack up.

Ease of use:

With custom applications, ease of use can vary depending on who builds and how. There are no guarantees like there are with some off-the-shelf products. That is why you should thoroughly discuss your needs – including ease of use – with the designer of your program. Let the expert know how you like to use applications, so that he or she can consider those issues when programming your customized application.

Cost:

Customized applications are normally more costly because of the amount of time that developers need to design and program them. Also critical to mention here is the maintenance of a custom application. Normally once a custom application is up and running, it works. However, if you need to make any modifications – due to growth, for example – you’ll have to call in the programmers again. Most off-the-shelf products are designed to mold to your needs out of the box.

Time:

Some customized packages may take a long time to work through before they ever get to the level of functionality that you originally envisioned, if they get there at all. Always plan on at least twice as much time as originally planned to get a customized program in place.


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"Atlantic Webfitters' clients save many thousands of dollars by completely avoiding the purchase, maintenance, continual replacement and operational support of servers. And they gain access to top of the line software such as SQL database technology, intranet modules for office productivity and content management software, all for a small monthly fee.

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