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Bespoke Software Versus SaaS: Finding the Right Fit for Your Business Needs

Far Reach blog Bespoke vs SaaS

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: in our discovery calls, most potential clients are convinced that they need bespoke software. But that’s not always the case—sometimes, a software as a service (SaaS) platform is the better option for them. Sometimes, they can benefit most from a combined buy and build approach.

You see, working with a client who doesn’t actually need your services is never a good idea. They won’t be as committed as they need to be to the development process because slowly but surely they will realize they don’t really need it. If they don’t need bespoke software, we recommend they search for a SaaS solution that does the job they need for now and part on good terms. 

Here’s a quick primer on buying versus building software from scratch. If you still haven’t decided what the right approach for you is, stick around as we break down the pros and cons of each option for you.

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Bespoke Software Versus SaaS: Pros and Cons

There’s no single answer to whether you need bespoke software or SaaS. It depends on many, many factors. However, a checklist of pros and cons can help you make the right choice for your business.

Bespoke Software Pros

Bespoke or custom software comes with a few undeniable benefits:

  • Precisely tailored to meet your needs: You get everything you need, with no clutter. This will enhance your productivity and support all your business processes.
  • Scalability: Since bespoke software is built with your business in mind, it can easily scale alongside your growth. You have the flexibility to add or modify features as your requirements evolve, so you will never outgrow it.
  • Enhanced security: With bespoke software, you have full control over security measures, allowing you to implement robust protocols tailored to your data protection needs. 
  • Ownership and control: By investing in bespoke software, you retain ownership and complete control over the system. There are no dependency issues or restrictions imposed by third-party providers, giving you the freedom to make changes as needed.

Bespoke Software Cons

Here’s why bespoke software may not be the right choice for you:

  • Higher initial cost: Custom software development involves significant upfront costs due to the extensive planning, design, development, and testing process. This can be a challenge for small or budget-constrained businesses.
  • Long development timeline: It will always take much longer to build software from scratch than to start using a SaaS solution. It’s not uncommon for bespoke projects to take many months (or even years in some cases) to develop, although you can typically have an MVP up and running within just a few months.
  • Maintenance and updates: While you have control over maintenance, updates, and support for bespoke software, these responsibilities can be demanding in terms of time and resources. Regular updates are essential to address bugs, security threats, and evolving business needs.

SaaS Pros

An off-the-shelf SaaS solution is ideal for you if the advantages below can make a big difference in your business:

  • Lower initial investment: SaaS solutions typically operate on a subscription-based model, offering affordable access to powerful software without the need for hefty upfront investments. This pay-as-you-go approach makes it accessible to businesses of all sizes. However, as you grow, the monthly bill will grow too, so it’s wise to assess your long-term plans before making a decision.
  • Rapid deployment: With SaaS, you can quickly deploy software solutions without the need for extensive development or setup processes. As soon as you create your account, you can start implementing the software in your business. There might be a learning curve to account for, but that’s about it.
  • Automatic updates and maintenance: SaaS providers handle software maintenance, updates, and support, freeing you from the burden of managing these tasks internally. (Note, though, that you might experience some downtime when this happens and, occasionally, it may clash with your plans and/or needs.) 

SaaS Cons

The biggest advantage of SaaS is the low initial cost. Still, in some cases, this advantage can be offset by these disadvantages: 

  • Limited customization: While SaaS solutions typically offer some flexibility, they may not fully align with the unique requirements of your business. Customization options are often limited (or non-existent) and you have no control over how the product is developed over the years. If you outgrow your SaaS solution, you have no other choice but to change providers.
  • Security issues: If you’re in a risk-prone field (like medical or financial services providers), entrusting sensitive data to a SaaS can be fraught. You have little, if any, control over how the data is handled, but the final responsibility for data protection falls on you.
  • Too much clutter: SaaS solutions are built to serve as many clients as possible. This means that most of them are bloated with countless features that you will never use, which can negatively impact the product’s usability.
  • Costs add up over time: SaaS solutions keep developing their product and adding new features that you will pay for whether or not you use them. As your business grows, more than likely so will your SaaS costs, especially since you will often need several solutions for processes that bespoke software can solve in a single platform.

Key Takeaways

If you’re not sure that bespoke software is right for you, the best piece of advice we can offer is to start with a SaaS solution—see which of the features you need and which are completely useless to you. Write everything down, this will be the development basis of your bespoke software that has all the features you need and none you don’t.

Want to talk this through with a consultant? Reach out—we’ve helped dozens of businesses decide between bespoke software and SaaS and we’d love to help you too.