Comparison Between Custom And Generic Software Development, Which Is Better?

3 Mins read

When considering which type of process to use, it’s important to decide whether the benefits outweigh the risks by doing a comparison between custom and generic software development. If you choose generic software development over custom because of cost savings, this might not be the best choice for you. Instead, try dividing your project into smaller milestones and seeing if it makes sense for you as a business owner or manager.

Custom software development is simply the process of designing and creating a software solution for a company’s specific needs. Generic software development, on the other hand, is merely the process of adapting an off-the-shelf technology to be used by that company.

The key difference between custom and generic software development is that custom solutions are built for specific purposes while generic solutions can be more general and open-ended. Custom development also typically costs more than generic since more effort and time is put into making sure it fits with the client’s needs, while generic has little customization involved so it’s cheaper to produce.

Comparison Between Custom And Generic Software Development

1) Ability to tailor-make components

One benefit of custom software development is that the software produced can be tailored to fit a client’s needs. This means that it will more likely be used effectively as the software will have been developed around the client’s unique and precise uses for it. Generically-developed software, on the other hand, may not necessarily have been built around specific applications or uses and so the generic off-the-shelf technology might not necessarily fit in with all of a company’s needs.

2) Costs

Because generic technology is usually cheaper to produce than custom, it also means that custom software is sometimes more expensive than generically developed solutions; this is one factor that must be considered when undertaking custom development. However, if the solution is particularly time-consuming to develop, it can sometimes be cheaper, in the long run, to go for custom over generic since generic software would have a higher initial cost.

3) More Open-Ended vs. Tailored Software

A key difference between custom and generic software is that custom solutions are made more specifically for a client’s unique needs while generic solutions are less tailored to fit a client’s precise wants and needs. As such, generically-produced software can sometimes be more general and open-ended than custom, but this will depend on the uses of the particular software being developed.

4) Time to Market

Generically-produced software can sometimes be more readily released to a client, but this depends on the particular technology being used. Some generic technologies can be readily adaptable, while others may need to be developed more specifically or may require higher levels of customization. In some cases, if development is not undertaken very quickly, there might not yet be an institutionalised standard for how the software must be developed. For example, OpenOffice Software may not have a set format for developing the software and so might take some time for a company to formulate their own standards for creating custom versions of the software. This is not always the case, however; the time it takes to customize software can vary from company to company and from one project to another.

5) Flexibility

In some cases, a generically-produced software might be more flexible than its custom counterpart depending on the needs of a client. For example, if a client needs something that is able to do three different things, it may be easier for them to go with generic rather than custom as they might not require a customized solution. However, this depends on the particular industry and project being undertaken. Custom software can often be just as flexible as generically developed solutions.

6) Experience

Custom software can be particularly beneficial for companies that have been working together for a long time and have developed a certain rapport. Generically-produced software can be more useful for companies that do not yet share a rapport with a particular software provider, but the latter might want to build up this relationship before working together on custom projects.

7) Switching Costs

Because custom solutions are developed specifically for each client and tailored to fit their needs, switching costs may sometimes be higher than with generically-produced solutions. This is especially the case if the client has invested a large amount of money in creating custom software which would result in high switching costs should they decide to switch to using generic software instead.

8) Interoperability

The interoperability of custom software can be more advanced than generic software depending on the needs of a client. However, it is also possible to create custom solutions that are easier to use and have a more user-friendly interface than generic solutions.

9) Platform Requirements

The platform requirements for custom software can be tailored to fit the needs of a particular client and so this may end up being beneficial for certain companies.


Software development can be an arduous task. Based on the above requirements, then one would need to make a choice on what type of software to develop, custom software or generic software. The above comparison is based on the understanding that there are generic software and custom software, but in fact, all software is actually based on a combination of generic and custom components. The question then becomes how much of each type to use.

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