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Bespoke Software: Pros and Cons

Far Reach blog Bespoke Pros and Cons

Bespoke software is what we do at Far Reach, so you might expect this article to be a thinly-veiled pitch for why you absolutely, unequivocally need it. This is not happening, though.

There is no one-size-fits-all in software. Plus, we’re here to help you make the right choice for you, not for us.


Because we know firsthand how terrible it is for both the client (that’s you) and the bespoke software provider (that’s us) to work on a low-ROI, bad-fit project.

Let’s start with the basics.

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What Is Bespoke Software?

Bespoke software, also known as custom software, is a precise, custom-built solution, designed and developed specifically to meet a business’s unique requirements. Customization is not merely a few tweaks here and there—bespoke software is a solution crafted from the ground up after gaining a detailed understanding of your business processes, needs, and goals.

Think of it as a tailored suit, cut and sewn to fit perfectly, rather than an off-the-rack outfit from your local department store.

The bespoke software market was valued at $28.2 billion in 2022 and is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 21.5% between 2023 and 2032.

bespoke software development market
Image source

This impressive growth shows that more and more organizations are recognizing the value of bespoke software. But, again, that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. 

So let’s look at some of its disadvantages first.

3 Disadvantages of Bespoke Software

Having software that’s specifically created for you and you alone can give you a huge competitive edge. However, sometimes that edge comes with consequential compromises.

1. The Initial Investment Is Higher for Bespoke Software

There’s no ballparking an all-encompassing cost range (sorry!), but we can go so far as to say that you can expect to pay tens of thousands of dollars, minimum, for the development of bespoke software. The costs of custom software vary a lot depending on the complexity and size of the project and they are almost always higher than those of off-the-shelf software. 

This is true especially if you compare it to SaaS (software as a service) systems, where you generally pay as you go for users and/or usage. 

Plus, you have to account for budget contingencies, internal team time, and other resource use. 

2. It Takes Time to See the ROI from Bespoke Software

Unlike SaaS or off-the-shelf software, bespoke software takes time to develop and implement. Of course, the exact duration varies from project to project, and software developers worth their salt use an Agile approach and create an MVP as early as possible to speed the process up.

Still, it will take more time to spin up and start using it in your business than SaaS software that you can start using as soon as you pay for it. 

3. You Need to Be In It for the Long Term 

In bespoke software, development is an ongoing process. This comes with additional costs and additional overhead. 

This is both an advantage and a disadvantage. On the one hand, you can always add new features as you need them. On the other hand, those features will cost both time and money.

3 Advantages of Bespoke Software

It’s not all bad news with bespoke, though. If you have the timeline, budget, and use case(s) for bespoke software development, you can gain a competitive advantage. Bespoke software is a growth lever that can be pulled across industries. Bespoke software, mobile apps, and custom features can make a world of difference in your business.

Here are some of the benefits that come from bespoke software development.

1. Your Software, Your Rules

The sky's the limit when it comes to bespoke software. You can add nearly any feature you can think of and ignore some of the features that off-the-shelf products have if you don’t need them.

This means a competitive advantage for you: if your mission-critical software is aligned with your business goals, you could be faster and more agile than your competitors.

We’ve seen bespoke software open new doors and new revenue streams for our clients. In complex industries like agriculture, finance, healthcare, construction and others, bespoke software can be a major competitive advantage. While bespoke software can be beneficial in any industry, it’s the most complex industries and companies that often reap the most benefits.

2. Bespoke Software Comes with Unparalleled Long-Term Advantages

While the initial investment is a drawback for some companies, the long-term ROI of bespoke software is second to none. SaaS products lack flexibility and are often bloated with unnecessary features in an attempt to attract the widest possible audience, which means there’s the potential you will end up with something that doesn’t fit your specific business needs. Sometimes more isn’t better.

Off-the-shelf software is also a game of chance: you never know if or when the developers will add a feature you need, and they could choose to change direction or kill the product altogether.

This doesn’t happen with bespoke software: you decide its shelf-life and what features go into it. Since you will never pay for features you don’t need, the cost efficiency is much better in the right business cases.

3. Scalability on Your Terms

Think of the world’s most popular ERPs or CRMs—they are behemoths with hundreds or thousands of features. Whenever they get a significant upgrade, it is reflected in the price you pay.

Their makers have scaled up but what about you?

With a bespoke approach, the software scales along with you, not asynchronously. If your growth is stalled or you want to use the system to grow funds for further investment, you can pause new feature development. If you’re getting ready for a new launch or if you want to add a new revenue stream, the software can support your goals.

Bonus Advantage: Control Over Security

Off-the-shelf software can come with inherent security risks, especially if it’s cloud-based. Think of the thousands of organizations that use big platforms and how hackers can use any vulnerability as a tiny door to breach a system.

When you own the software, and therefore the development process and the way it is used, you can make sure the application’s security is much tighter. You choose whether you expose it to the internet or not; you choose the security features to layer in; and you have more control over who gets access to your data.

In some industries, like the medical and financial ones, security is an advantage that shouldn’t be overlooked. 

Final Thoughts: Bespoke Software Vs. SaaS Software

Which of these two sounds more like you: do you need a solution NOW or do you need the right solution to support you in the long run?

There’s no wrong answer here, just like there are no two companies with identical needs. If you’re not sure whether bespoke software is right for you or not, reach out. We’d be happy to help you make the right choice for your current and long-term goals.