Bespoke vs off-the-shelf software – which is best for you?

Paul Rhodes, founder and managing director, Green Gorilla Software
Green Gorilla

Bespoke vs off-the-shelf software – what’s the difference and which is best for you?

Choosing the software that’s right for you is important in helping drive the performance of your business and, keeping pace with the available solutions on offer, helps you to stand out from your competitors.

However, choosing the right software solution for you isn’t always straight-forward. You are focused on your customers and what they value about you, but what they don’t see is the added value that your back-office systems provide.

For the most part, they are about helping you to work efficiently and effectively while automation of these systems can help you to deliver high standards of service, consistently and cost-effectively.

So, you know you need to automate. What are your options?

There’s increasing emphasis on automation these days but what’s the most cost-effective way to streamline a specific process? Should you opt for bespoke or off-the-shelf software? Both have their merits.

Bespoke software is where code is written from ‘first principles’ to meet your particular needs. As such, it automates your business process in a mirror digital image vs its ‘on paper’ predecessor. Off-the-shelf software is ready-made with a standard framework designed for a wide range of users, eg Microsoft Office, Sage.

Although we offer bespoke software solutions, often we’ll signpost prospects to off-the-shelf options which can be more cost-effective for them. The most important thing is finding the solution that is fit-for-purpose. Only then, will a business reap the rewards.

Here’s a quick checklist to help you evaluate the best option for your business:

The advantages of bespoke software solutions:

  • Bespoke software builds on your current processes/procedures
  • It grows and flexes with you
  • It gives you competitive edge, helping to increase your market share by:
    • optimising price and profit margins
    • speeding up service delivery
    • raising customer service standards
  • Particularly suits certain sectors: eg recruitment, hospitality, manufacturing and healthcare
  • It’s written your way – in your ‘language’
  • It’s unique, reflecting your individual, corporate culture (vision, mission, values)
  • Simpler to use, easier to train and adopt as it’s directly tailored to your familiar businesses, processes and people
  • You only pay for the functionality you actually want and will use
  • You have more control over the frequency and functionality of updates
  • You can opt for a hybrid system – ie ‘bespoked’ off-the-shelf software
  • No licence fees.

The advantages of off-the-shelf software solutions:

  • Off-the-shelf software is available now and can be bought and downloaded instantly
  • It’s affordable, though you must remember to factor in recurring licence fees
  • It’s fully featured, although you may only need and use a fraction of the programme’s capabilities, eg most people only exploit 10% of Microsoft Word’s full functionality
  • Particularly suited to regulated business: eg accountants, solicitors
  • Updated regularly (whether wanted or not)
  • Safety in numbers – your ‘leap of faith’ in dedicating your business choice to an off-the-shelf software provider is shared with many – eg 1.2 billion people currently use Microsoft Office

How do you decide what’s right for your business?

Find the ‘dials’ that delight your customers. Get those dials moving in the right direction by focusing your resources on them. That will unlock profits, especially if you automate those ‘delightful’ processes which will also help you innovate and grow.

The key is finding the ‘minimum viable product’ (MVP) – the smallest possible value a product can have for people to be willing to use or buy it, with enough promised future value for them to retain interest – where 20% of the effort will get 80% of the return (the Pareto principle[1]).

Ensure the software has been thoroughly researched, thought-through and that you have consulted your users in specifying your approach. This last point can be critical to the success or failure of implementation.

A key measure is to assess whether or not the solution will bring something new to the business. Then test it to see how well the software performs in overcoming obstacles to ensure that the solution is no more complex than it needs to be.

Your ultimate aim is to consistently deliver perfect value to the customer through a flawless value-creation process with zero waste.

SilkThread®’s experience

SilkThread® is a consultancy providing regulatory compliance audit in the logistics market which moved from spreadsheets to a digital audit system with Green Gorilla Software’s bespoke solution.

“We have opened up new markets with the award-winning piece of software built for us by Green Gorilla Software,” says Joanna Godsmark, co-creator of SilkThread® and director of Labyrinth Logistics Consulting.

“By creating a digital version of the audit process, clients are now able to view multiple site audits on one SilkThread® dashboard. The methodology was complex – both in terms of the gap analysis and audit framework – and it took time to get it exactly right.

“Green Gorilla became fully immersed in our business. We began by taking them to various clients to see what our industry has to deal with daily.

“As a result, Green Gorilla has provided us with a system that is functionally far more sophisticated than any of our competitors’.” 

How they did it

“We have to be brutally transparent,” says Paul Rhodes, founder and managing director, Green Gorilla Software. “When you really tune in to what a business owner is looking to do, you get to the root of their problem.

“The key is aiming to create the minimum viable product. That’s a basic version of the system which quickly tests a client’s potential return on investment and provides feedback to guide and hone its future development. It paves the way to finding the absolute optimum route to innovate, automate and grow.”

Commenting further, Joanna Godsmark of SilkThread® added about Green Gorilla’s bespoke solution, “SilkThread® is returning on its investment. We know we’re on the right track as a big logistics company fed back that it is the first time that he has seen audit software that looked and felt as though it had been designed by an experienced and fully qualified auditor.”

At Green Gorilla Software we offer a brutally candid assessment of whether a bespoke or off-the-shelf solution is best to grow your business. Nine times out of ten, we will turn business away because the client’s problem is better solved with an off-the-shelf product.

How automation can quadruple your business turnover

“We’ve quadrupled our workload by moving from spreadsheets to a portal that Green Gorilla Software built for us,” says Heather Evans, director from The Medical Company.

“Now we’re using the portal as our database. It means we now have total control over exactly who accesses the portal, how they access it and what they see. That’s critical for all our staff, doctors and allied health professionals alike.

“As a result, Green Gorilla has simplified patient management and made it safer and more effective.”

Simply call 0121 405 3030 or email and we’ll tell you straight.


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