When a company wants to build a mobile app, a common question always comes up: should the company use an app that is “off the shelf” or should the company use bespoke apps?
In order to make the right decision, the company has to examine a number of factors. These include the budget allocated for the app development, timeline from design to implementation, scalability, user experience, the functionality desired, and whether it can be integrated with systems currently used.
How Do the Two Approaches Differ?
When you purchase a mobile app that is “off-the-shelf,” you are getting something that is already built that is ready for installation on your device. It might allow limited customization so you can bring in your own information and data. These ready-made apps are designed to fulfill the needs of the masses.
In contrast, customized mobile apps are built from the ground up. These can be done by your own staff in-house or be outsourced to a third-party developer based on the specifications of your needs.
Your decision will depend on these factors:
– What type of business issue this app will address
– What the business priority is
– What company resources and framework are needed to build and support this solution
Here are key factors to consider:
Typically, it is faster and less expensive when you acquire applications “off the shelf” rather than building a mobile app from scratch. If you have a very limited budget or if you have a short deadline, this can be an advantage. Buying or licensing off-the-shelf apps might make sense to a company if:
– The company does not have personnel who has the technical expertise to create the app in-house or to support the app that is built by a 3rd party.
– The company strongly believes that an application already exists that can fulfill all of their requirements.
A custom-build application does cost more, but it will fit your business needs in every aspect. The user experience will be smooth and seamless, which can result in a significantly higher return on your investment.
We have dealt with a number of businesses and have seen how their “off-the-shelf” solution did not do exactly what they wanted. The application was not easily customizable and updates were difficult. This caused a lot of frustration to the users. Some companies resorted to paying additional fees to add other features.
We strongly believe that customised mobile apps are the way to go for better ROI when looking long-term but are not suitable for quick fixes. You will need an experienced software development company to build a customised mobile app.
Performance and Flexibility in Customization
The source code of an application that is off-the-shelf is owned by the manufacturer. The functionality is designed to fit the needs of mass users. That means any unique requirements that you may have will not be met. The apps are inflexible and usually only allow very basic modifications. That can pose a problem if your business continues to grow and evolve because the app might not be able to adapt to your evolving needs.
Customized development of a mobile app does not have these limitations. The app is built from the ground up according to your specifications that will address your unique set of business challenges. The app can be modified, updated, and refined as your business needs and the needs of your end-users evolve.
Issues of Integration
A common problem with off-the-shelf apps is that it often has issues with integration. The app might be compatible with the most widely-used applications, but if you try to integrate it with your unique in-house applications or tools, you will most likely be disappointed. You might have to spend additional time and resources to create a workaround. Or, if have already spent funds on an off-the-shelf solution, you might be forced to pay the company extra for the custom features that you really need.
With a customized solution, any need to integrate with your existing systems can be built right in from the start. There are many API’s that allow you to do this. One integrated system allows for seamless communication and data transfer between applications without the need to use separate systems. It boosts productivity and efficiency overall. You can only get this from a customized app solution.
Advantage Over Your Competitors
A mobile app that is created for your specific requirements will help you stay ahead of your competition. You can automate processes and improve workflow for greater efficiency and productivity. You can design the best user experience for your clients any way you like. You will enjoy a higher return on your investment. Compared to your competitors who are using canned, inflexible mobile app solutions, your customized solution will help you stand out from the crowd.