So we have recently looked at the three main types of mobile applications: native, hybrid and web apps, along with the advantages and disadvantages of each. Now let’s return the focus to custom software development. Computer software in essence contains a set of instructions which tell a computer to perform particular tasks. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is one of our specialities at Lyke, as we help businesses manage their interactions with both current and prospective customers. This helps to improve customer relationships, leading to increased sales and ultimately business growth.
The three main types of custom software are:
1. Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) software
The best way to explain this is a ready-made suite – a collection of computer programs that can easily exchange data with each other. They often have a similar user interface too… think Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel. COTS address a specific set of business needs, to help make mundane processes a little easier.
2. Custom (bespoke) software
Custom software is just as it sounds, a suite that is created bespoke to the specific needs of a business. It could even be designed with a certain user in mind, accommodating their particular preferences and expectations.
3. Hybrid software
As the name suggests, hybrid software is a combination of COTS and bespoke software. The aim is to deliver the advantages of both types of software, mitigating some of the disadvantages associated with them both. The main focus is on the COTS software – using this as the foundation to create a bespoke solution that meets the particular requirements and preferences of the business. Essentially the COTS software is purchased, and any particular gaps that it leaves are filled by adding on features which are bespoke.
Building bespoke software from scratch can be very expensive, which is why many businesses opt for COTS software in the interim to help fill the need. COTS software aims to please the masses – focusing on automating the most common processes which can save a business time and money. The idea is to sell as many licences as possible, so they can afford to keep the overall costs down. The hybrid approach means businesses can purchase the COTS software which matches the majority of the requirements, and invest in custom software only for developing extensions and add-ons rather than the whole thing.
Opting for a hybrid model approach is often quicker than developing a custom solution from scratch too. When creating bespoke software, there is the whole prototyping and development process that needs to be followed, which does take a lot of time. For complex requirements, this time can soon add up! Purchasing a COTS solution means that the core development has already been carried out, so the development phase is significantly shorter for the add-ons.
One of the main disadvantages of a COTS system is that when it comes to upgrades, the timing of these is under the control of the software owner – which may not tie in with the needs of the business. A hybrid system can counteract this as the business can enhance the add-on without having to wait for the core COTS software to be upgraded. This can help to give a competitive advantage over other businesses using the same COTS software.
In a hybrid model, the extensions and add-ons are dependent on the COTS software, which means that if this is upgraded the custom extensions may stop working. It also works the other way round, in that the COTS software may limit the enhancements of any upgrades to the extensions or add-ons.
Data is something that needs to be carefully considered with a hybrid software solution. This is because in some cases, data stored in the COTS software is replicated and stored by the bespoke add-ons. This means that there is a possibility that data discrepancies could occur by integrating the two applications and manual updates may be required to keep them in sync.
This is entirely dependent upon personal preferences, and ultimately it does come down to the budget you have to spend on custom software. If you require a quick solution, you may be better going down the COTS route too. On the other hand, if you already use COTS but it doesn’t have everything you need it to, the hybrid option is always worth considering. That way adding new features doesn’t involved moving to an entirely new system.
It is always best to have a discussion so that we can understand the individual needs of your business – why not give us a ring on 0800 254 5953 to get the ball rolling.