The complexity in selecting the best off the shelf software package for you will very much depend on the amount of choice available.  If you are looking for software where your requirements are likely to be the same as every other business in the country, the chances are that you will have a plethora of choices to work through.  However if you’re looking for something very niche, you may find your choice is limited to less than a handful of choices, with some being quickly disqualified for basic reasons. 

Off the shelf products, by their very nature, have to target a wide range of customer requirements which means they will be built to cover the most generic methods of working and include functionality to cover the widest range of possibilities.  This means you will typically have to change your work processes to fit the product’s way of working and it will include functionality that you have no need for. Whether this is a frustration for you or not is very much a matter of personal opinion.

Choosing the right product

Selecting the right product from a range of choices can take a lot of research and depending on the vendors involved this may be readily available on-line or require direct sales engagement..

When considering each product, all the following attributes are worth considering.  Before you start, or get carried away with thinking you’ve found the right product, it’s worth working through this list to decide what your requirements are for each and what flexibility you have if the product doesn’t meet your requirement.

Functionality

Does the software provide all the functionality you need to undertake your work processes.  Is additional functionality superfluous, or are you likely to need it as any growth plans come to fruition.

Process flow

How will the software work with your work processes?  Will it require substantial changes to your processes?  If so, are the changes acceptable or are they going to incur an additional hidden cost.

Pricing and Licensing Model

Does the pricing model, subscription period and licensing model work for how you would?  Does it accommodate any growth plans you might have?

SaaS Hosting vs on-Prem

Does your company allow Cloud hosted SaaS or do you need an on-premise solution?

Technologies and Platform support

Does the software support the IT platforms that your users work with (Windows/Mac/Linux/Mobile)?  Do the product’s technologies have any impacts?  

Integration options

Do you need the software to integrate with other off the shelf software packages?  If so, is full integration included, or if not, will manual integration be possible with imports/exports?

User Experience

Does the user experience make the software enjoyable to use or does it create frustration and slow efficiency?

Company stability and maturity

Do some due diligence on the company as to whether they have the maturity and finances to be around for the foreseeable future.

Customer Service & Support

How will the company perform when you need them after you’ve made the purchase?

Searching for the optimum product for your requirements can be tough, if you’d like some help we can offer guidance to help you cut through the marketing words and technical babble to work out some best options for you.

The alternative approach is to develop a bespoke software solution, such that a tailored solution is created specifically to your needs.  This helps you tick all the right boxes, and avoids you buying a product with functionality that you don’t use.

Best of both worlds?

Finally, there is the option of a combined approach. Often, off the shelf products will fulfill 60 – 90% of your requirement, lacking only in a few key features. We’ve helped customers fill that gap with bespoke integrations that extend an off the shelf system to provide them with the functionality it lacks.

It may seem counterproductive speaking to a bespoke software company about an off the shelf system but we strongly believe in using the right tool for the job, so will happily advise you on the best way forward.