While it is relatively easy to get an accurate estimate of the initial cost of building custom software (although that can balloon as well), two large post-build costs of custom-built software are often overlooked:
1) Maintenance and Support
The maintenance and support costs of custom-built software frequently cost more over the software’s lifetime than the initial build. For example, any hardware additions or replacement can require software updates if the hardware deviates from the original hardware. Also, after the initial “warranty” period, bugs found in the software require paid development time to fix.
2) System Downtime
Custom software is more likely to have bugs than off-the-shelf software because it is not tested nearly as thoroughly (that would dramatically increase the cost of development). It is important to figure out how your company will deal with any downtime.
When looking at the costs and benefits of custom-built software, be sure to budget for maintenance and support. Plus, you want to put contingency plans in place to deal with any system downtime.
Skyriver IT typically recommends that clients use off-the-shelf solutions whenever possible. However, in some instances custom built software does provide an advantage. Before you go down the road of creating custom software, be sure to include all of the costs of the software when looking at the costs and benefits.
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