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Which is better: Custom solutions or packaged products?

I am as guilty as anyone when it comes to making the convenient choice. As a society, we lean towards what is expedient; we can’t help ourselves. We choose to direct deposit our paychecks to save a trip to the bank. We buy the more expensive milk at the gas station while we’re filling up our cars so we don’t have to make another stop at the grocery store on the way home. The “golden arches” may not be the healthiest lunch option, but doesn’t sound like such a bad idea when you haven’t eaten all day and you’re rushing to a meeting across town. Life happens, and we are all busy people trying to be efficient, so it’s no surprise when we are drawn towards the services and resources that can make things easier.

But what does “easier” mean? We all have our own interpretation. Different scenarios and experiences can, and will, lead us down different paths. Some days I have time to whip up a culinary masterpiece when I get home from work (it’s OK, you can laugh. I’m no master chef), and some days I need to make a pit stop on my way home for something quick before a busy evening; I make the appropriate choice for the situation. The same can be said for the debate between custom and packaged software development. On any occasion, one option could be “easier”, or more convenient than the other… it all comes down to what the purpose behind the development really is. At Maestro, we are working through these challenges on a daily basis. What works for one company won’t always work for another; even companies working in the same industry. Each business case is unique in its own right, and we honor and respect their differences down to the smallest details.

When it comes to crafting an appropriate solution, we take a look at a number of factors, as we recognize there are benefits to both packaged and custom development. Let’s take a look at some of the positive attributes each possesses.

Packaged Solutions

  • Move quickly. A packaged solution requires little to no development time, resulting in quicker deployment.
  • Stay on budget. Because of low development costs, packaged software is a great way to save budget money for other training initiatives or future phases.
  • Meet requirements. Safety and compliance are only two examples of required courses that large enterprises require, regardless of industry. Developing a custom solution for this purpose would be like reinventing the wheel.

Custom Solutions

  • Satisfy specific needs. Customized software provides the ability to design specifically to the customer’s brand and unique business needs. This includes the look and feel of the user interface, functionality, and ability to use on multiple devices, among other details that will make the software a true representation of the company’s culture.
  • Be flexible. Customized solutions offer flexibility to change content to stay relevant with the current marketplace. This also makes room for real world examples and application.
  • Get a leg up on your competition. Custom development focuses on the specific organization’s needs and the way business is done to set them apart from their competitors, as opposed to only informing about the industry and knowledge necessary to do business in that space.

In our world, one size does not fit all. With every development opportunity that comes our way, we dig into solving the business challenges our customers face to provide the best recommendations to achieve desired results, whether that is a course off the shelf or a full-blown custom mobile learning strategy. In both instances, the driving force is to provide a solution that will fit the customer’s needs. Sometimes you have time to go home and cook dinner, and sometimes you have to stop on the way home; there is no right or wrong option. Companies make decisions on what will work best for them, just like we do on a daily basis. With the end goal in mind, the choices leading up to it are yours. How convenient.

Resources http://blogs.forrester.com/mike_gilpin/11-04-25-packaged_versus_custom_apps_the_debate_rages_on

http://www.slideshare.net/selcukatli/it-depends-custom-vs-packaged-software

http://tcsoftware.net/articles/custom-bespoke-software.html

http://www.customsoftwarelab.com/articles/the-advantages-of-custom-software-development

http://www.tdxglobal.com/articles/benefits-of-custom-content

http://sunset.usc.edu/gsaw/gsaw2004/s10f/balady.pdf

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