Businesses aiming to enhance the efficiency of their processes and looking for ways to simplify a set of critical tasks, are required to integrate cutting-edge software. The software you opt for will depend on the specific needs of your business. This brings us to the pertinent question, what type of software does your business require? Should you choose open-source software or custom software?
If you’re still mulling over these questions, you probably require a detailed understanding of both these types of software and how they function. With that thought, we have presented an elaborate comparative overview of open-source software and custom software along with their advantages and disadvantages.
What Is Open-source Software?
Open-source Software (OSS) is distributed with its source code, which anyone can modify, inspect and enhance. Source code is a specific part of the software that users generally don’t get to see. It’s the code that computer programmers manipulate to determine how a program or application behaves. OSS essentially include a license that allows programmers to modify software based on their specific requirements.
A typical example of open-source software is various business management tools, such as:
- Project management tools
- Communication and messaging tools
- Email marketing tools
- SEO tools
- Social media management tools
- Human resource management tools
- Accounting tools
Many companies opt for these tools based on their specific goals, the field of operations and services. For instance, a software development company may use popular marketing automation tools such as SEMrush, Moz, Hubspot and Hootsuite to manage its marketing campaigns. These open-source solutions are ideal for some businesses.
What Is Custom Software?
This type of software, also known as bespoke software, is built exclusively to perform specific tasks depending on the needs of an individual or an organisation. These software solutions are intended to be used by any other organization. Such software is required when the nature of the business is highly specialized and there are no existing software packages that can meet the needs of an organisation.
One of the most appropriate examples of custom software has to do with products designed for use in a business setting. For instance, a manufacturer may look for software that drives all the automated functions of the production process. The software will be built in a manner that ensures each step is executed within a specific sequence. The following are different types of custom software solutions:
- Content management systems
- Business process automation software
- Automated invoicing solutions
- Custom inventory systems
- API integration solutions
- Customer relationship management systems
Differences Between Open-source and Custom Software
Based on the definition of both open-source and custom software we have drawn up a thorough comparison. Let’s go over the list of factors based on which these two types of software can be compared.
|Factors||Open-source Software||Custom Software|
|Time||The deployment and mastering only take several days, so you receive a working solution rather quickly.||Custom software usually take several months to develop before you can start working with the final product.|
|Source Code||The source code of open-source software is public. This code can be modified by any user and is available for anyone to look at.||The source code is protected in this type of software. Only a specific individual and organisation are allowed to modify the code.|
|Money||The initial expenditure is low. However, the overall cost tends to be much higher owing to monthly subscriptions and hidden expenses.||Even though the upfront cost is high, the total cost of ownership is affordable due high start-up costs and low operating expenses.|
|Support and Maintenance||Users need to rely on community support when using open-source software.||Users typically receive dedicated support from the software vendor.|
|Installation and Updates||The updates in open-source software are administered by the user.||Any kind of installation and updates in a custom software are administered by the software vendor.|
Open-source Software: Advantages and Disadvantages
Open-source Solutions Are Cost-effective
These software solutions prove to be economical for companies. Specifically, if it’s a start-up or small business, opting for open-source software saves resources considerably.
Many organisations across the world rely on open-source systems to run part or all of their operations in them. This makes the implementation of open-source software in the global economy a beneficial aspect of the business plan. This advantage of open-source software enables professionals to work with software vendors worldwide to release a new tech solution.
It’s continuously evolving
Owing to the ease of access to the source code, it’s convenient for the developers can enhance the software by making iterations, fixing bugs and adding new features. This allows the software to evolve within a limited period of time as large teams of people work on it from different parts of the world.
Not Dependent on Vendors
If you need a new feature to be added to the software, open-source systems can help you achieve that. Open-source is independent of individual companies and irrespective of whether the vendor’s business is operational, the software can be modified and used until its community turns completely inactive.
These Solutions Tend to Be Difficult to Use
As open-source software is free for public use, it’s less tailor-made and more adapted to the general standards of the target user base. It’s common for many open-source software systems to have quite basic interfaces and features for diverse companies. However, if your chosen open-source solution is tough to set up and use for your employees, this may lead to employee productivity issues.
Hidden Costs Are Involved
Many open-source solutions have free and paid packages. Often users are required to buy paid packages to carry out more complex actions through such systems. Sometimes, open-source software is free upfront but charges money to run. It can be a major issue if the user isn’t keen on investing the money.
Higher Market Compatibility
There are millions of open-source software solutions in every industry. Building and selling open-source software has become a beneficial business and when promoted the right way, it generates sizeable income. However, with the increasing number of public software solutions, the standards get higher.
It’s crucial to be unique and provide diverse functions from other software solutions. However, before releasing an open-source solution, it’s vital to know that many types of proprietary hardware require specialized drivers for open-source programs to work. In the process, the cost of the project shoots up.
Custom Software: Advantages and Disadvantages
Custom software is more secure as it’s only used by relevant professionals and the software development team that works on the software. The scope for hacker attacks and intrusions is reduced if businesses opt for custom software since open-source software is easier to hack due to its open-source code.
Your custom software development team can set up an alert system to warn you whenever someone is trying to hack into the systems.
Custom Software Is Innovative
Even though users can keep the open-source software upgraded, such software is still generalised for public use. On the contrary, users look for sophisticated strategies and solutions in the market when it comes to custom software. Such systems call for innovations that the software development team can implement easily.
Custom Software Only Consists of The Necessary Functions
Open-source software generally requires customizations and needs to be adapted to the users’ requirements and goals. However, Custom software is developed for a single company for exclusive usage. Custom solutions tend to be easier to use as they don’t have features that are irrelevant to a specific company.
Also, the UX/UI design of custom software is tailored according to the preferences and niches of a particular company.
Takes Prolonged Time for Development
If you’re looking for a quick and easy solution, custom software is probably not for you. Usually, it takes a prolonged time for your development team to deliver customized software based on your specifications.
The developers are required to collect and evaluate information relating to the necessary features of the end-users before the actual development. The development phase may take several months, in many cases. While this may lead to the delivery of a perfectly robust solution, it may not be feasible for some organisations to take that much time.
Unnecessary Dependence on Software Vendor
Developing a custom solution may result in dependence on the custom software vendor. If these vendors go out of business for whatever reason, your business could be inconvenienced.
That said, this small-scale, localized support often proves to be beneficial as you get the benefit of a software team that understands your business. Ultimately, it’s important to choose your software vendor wisely.
Costs More Than Usual
Custom software typically requires a substantial investment in the beginning, such as using resources to look for a qualified software vendor or hiring individual software developers. The time and budget estimates for custom software development will automatically be higher. These are crucial considerations before you invest in custom software development.
It’s evident from the insights shared in the blog that both open-source and custom software are serious investments to consider. The type of software you choose will largely depend on the objectives and strategies of your business. This post is aimed at guiding you to make the right choice for your business.