Custom development can seem daunting for IT departments that are strapped for resources and scrambling to keep up with everyday demands. However, businesses that rely heavily on out-of-the-box software that is easier to install and deploy could end up complicating rather than solving their current IT problems.

Out-of-the-box software has a long history in the IT world, with businesses looking to vendors to offer them the licenses they need to install systems that help them maintain operations. However, the business world has changed quickly, and while many solutions lack the features organizations need when they come off the shelf, plenty of companies think they can't handle custom development.

Custom app creation is becoming more accessible all the time. Third-party specialists can provide robust capabilities to ensure you get precisely the app you need and help you escape the problems that come with out-of-the-box software. Here are three reasons you should start avoiding dependence on out-of-the-box solutions:

1. Software built for the general market will rarely meet all your critical needs
An Information Week report explained that out-of-the-box software is emerging as a growing problem because IT teams know they don't have time or personnel needed to create custom solutions. As such, businesses keep on buying software from vendors, only to sacrifice vital functionality.

The idea brought up by the news source is straightforward, but don't let its simplicity lead you to underestimate its importance. A solution built for the marketplace will have the core features that everybody needs, but it won't necessarily have the specific capabilities or options that your business requirements. What's more, how is a general software that any company can buy going to give you a competitive advantage?

Jeff Stovall, CIO for the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, told the news source that the out-of-the-box software epidemic often leads organizations to choose from a small number of vendors and settle for whatever happens to be in the market.

"Vendors may be able to anticipate 80 or 90 percent of the challenges, but the [missing] 10 percent may not be optional," Stovall told Information Week.

Man interacting with augmented reality setup showing a software development process.Custom software can be invaluable in meeting specific operational demands.

2. Management overhead can be significant with traditional software

"Custom software lets you take more control over an app."

If you purchase a software package, you have to manage a relationship with a vendor, including possibly becoming dependent on them for hosting, patches, upgrades and support. The ease of getting the software doesn't lead to simplicity in terms of everyday management and maintenance. Instead, off-the-shelf solutions can leave you with extensive overhead as you work to manage licenses and ensure updates and patches are consistent.

By deciding that custom development is too resource-intensive to justify, you give into dealing with extensive operational overhead in favor of a simpler development cycle. This assertion isn't to say that custom apps don't need work after the fact, but if you rely on a third-party specialist to build that system, you can also often get ongoing support.

3. Packaged software can leave you locked in to a solution
When you order licenses for an off-the-shelf software system, you are typically putting enough resources into the solution to demand a significant commitment to it. You can't decide it isn't working in a few months and move on. Because of this, you are at the software provider's mercy if something is or isn't working well.

You may have an off-the-shelf database that is effective for you, only to have the software provider to decide to modernize it for an audience with vastly different needs than yours, leaving you with a solution that is no longer supported and now a security risk. Conversely, you could need just one or two key features to make the solution work, but not get them because the software provider doesn't consider the upgrade important enough to justify.

Custom software lets you take more control over an app, allowing for a greater degree of flexibility and adaptability.

Using custom development to gain an edge
It is important to keep in mind that out-of-the-box apps aren't inherently bad and that custom apps aren't created equally. Organizations must carefully weigh the functionality they'll sacrifice with generalized solutions alongside the challenges of custom development to make their final decisions.

If you do opt for custom app creation, consider some advice from Computerworld. The news source explained that companies should be especially intentional about understanding their specific needs and ensuring the development process includes ongoing improvements beyond the initial release.

Interested in a custom app to meet your specific business demands? Contact MC Services today. We offer a combination of IT consulting and custom development services to help organizations identify their needs and get the solutions they need.