6 Advantages and Disadvantages of Off-the-shelf Software | Drawbacks & Benefits of Off-the-shelf Software

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6 Advantages and Disadvantages of Off-the-shelf Software | Drawbacks & Benefits of Off-the-shelf Software

6 Advantages and Disadvantages of Off-the-shelf Software | Drawbacks & Benefits of Off-the-shelf Software
What is Off-the-shelf Software ?

Businesses often have two options when it comes to software implementation. Those are the Off the Shelf Software and Bespoke Software. Off-the-shelf software is a software solution which is built for large number of users. It includes general features which meets the needs of mass market. One popular example of Off-the-shelf software is the Microsoft office package

It is no doubt that a Off-the-shelf software offers many features compared to a Bespoke software. Based on the facts it may seem like the Off-the-shelf software has only benefits. But with every advantages there comes disadvantages as well. By understanding the pros and cons, you will be able to know whether Off-the-shelf software will be a right choice for your business.

In this article, I will be describing about 6 Advantages and Disadvantages of Off-the-shelf Software | Drawbacks & Benefits of Off-the-shelf Software. At the end of this post, you will know the pros and cons of using Off-the-shelf software.

Let's get started,

Advantages of Off-the-shelf Software

1. Initial Cost

During the initial phase of purchasing, an off-the-shelf software tends to be a cheaper option to consider. An off-the-shelf software is developed for the mass market. The cost of development is shared among multiple users. This is one of the reasons why many companies prefer to use an off-the-shelf software.

2. Implementation

All of the off-the-shelf software are pre-existing. Which means that they have already been developed and presented to the market. The users are not required to wait until the developer finishes creating it. They can straightaway install and use the software soon after they purchase them.

3. Evaluation

An off-the-shelf software already exists and used by many people. As a result, the users will be able to look for product reviews online. One such way is through forums. People usually post about the queries they encounter while using a software. Same goes with off-the-shelf software as well. Using forums users can evaluate and identify about an off-the-shelf software easily.

4. Training

As mentioned earlier, a off-the-shelf software is a pre-existing program. Employees of a company may already be familiar with its usage. Hence, there is no need to train them separately. Even if they are not familiar, there are various training materials and tutorials which aims to provide detailed knowledge about the software. This saves both the time and cost involved in training.

5. Trials

Due to the fact that an off-the-shelf software is preprogrammed, most often it offers free trial to the user. The users can try how the software is working before they use. Now the trial version of the software cannot be guaranteed all the time. Sometimes the users need to pay in the form of discounts to test the software.

6. Updates

All the updates of an off-the-shelf software happens automatically. The updates are carried out by the developer itself. These updates are very essential for a software to ensure regular maintenance, new features and bug free software. However, updates occurring unknowingly can also cause disruptions in the system. 

Disadvantages of Off-the-shelf Software

1. Long term Costs

Although an off-the-shelf software is with low initial costs, it is still expensive in the long run. It contains licensing and updating costs which adds up to the annual expenses. 

And also the cost does not restrict to a single user. If the number of users increases, it could further cost you. That is the reason why it is important for the companies to consider this lifetime costs before investing in an off-the-shelf software.

2. Control

Users do not have control over an off-the-shelf software. Since it is pre-existing, its authority is under the control of the developer. Therefore, even if the users don't like the features included, they cannot make any changes to the off-the-shelf software. They need to rely on the updates given by the developer.

3. Support

Even though most of the off-the-shelf software comes with community support, in some of the the feature isn't included. The level of support depends on the type of package purchased. An expensive off-the-shelf software provides 24/7 customer service, whereas in other options only chats and emails are available. 

Even some vendors stop providing support once the software becomes outdated. The only option the users are left is with the help of developers. Hence, before making a purchase it is important to investigate in the type of support that the developer is providing.

4. Scalability

An off-the-shelf software lacks when it comes to scalability. It is a software which is already made and published to the market. Therefore, if you need to expand your business an off-the-shelf software does not allow it to be scalable. Under this condition, the only option will be by using a bespoke software.

5. Compatibility

Compatibility is another issue faced by an off-the-shelf software. Not all the operating systems and devices will be able to support an off-the-shelf software. Many of them becomes unusable in an incompatible operating system. Despite of this if it used, it might crash the software.

6. Complexity

An off-the-shelf software is more complicated than others due to the resources it is equipped with. This software must satisfy the requirement of different users. Thus, even a feature that the user doesn't want to is already included in an off-the-shelf software. This makes the software difficult to use for an average user.


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