Custom applications are custom-built to meet specific goals or functions of a department within the company. For example, that software your IT team built to give your admin team access to specific reports about desk utilization in your organization in this hybrid age is likely a custom application.

Packaged software is a package of programs compiled together that helps every department do its tasks successfully. They are usually made for general purposes and don’t require extensive installation or training. For example, Microsoft’s Office 365, comprising Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, benefits every department within the organization. This is also true of powerful solutions like ERPs, CRMs, and the like. While there are limitations to customizing packaged software, companies like Salesforce allow organizations to add custom features or functions that are not already available. This enables the organization to enjoy both custom and packaged software benefits.

Sometimes, organizations must decide between using a custom application and packaged software for their business needs. Making that decision is primarily easy. For example, Microsoft Office 365 will be an obvious choice for organizations wanting a single solution for all business productivity needs.

However, in some cases, organizations must compare the pros and cons and business needs to make the right decision.

In this blog, we will compare them so that you can decide on the right solution next time.


Custom Applications Vs. Packaged Software

 We’ve compared the pros and cons of custom applications and packaged software based on the parameters:

1. Objective

Packaged software is helpful if the purpose is to complete generic tasks. However, we recommend building custom applications if the purpose is to fulfill unique business needs.

2. Pricing

 Packaged software might end up being cheaper than custom applications per user when you compare the total cost of ownership. That’s because packaged software is readily available and only requires installation. However, organizations must check the installation and maintenance charges and other hidden costs while choosing a vendor. This is crucial because sometimes, the cost of maintaining packaged software can be quite high. Organizations sometimes have no choice but to continue with the same software due to vendor lock-in.

Custom applications might initially seem expensive, as organizations have to hire resources, and allocate time to develop them, and spend cycles testing and improving them.

 3. Scalability

As business grows, organizations must ensure the software is scalable enough to support increased data volume and traffic, reduce response time, and function 24/7 without disruption.

Packaged software is sometimes not scalable. Even if it is scalable, the software provider charges extra per user or data needed, escalating the overall software cost.

Custom applications are more scalable because they are built to meet the business’s future demands. They can easily be modified to support growth. They are also more cost-effective than packaged software, as they require minimal investment.

 4. Integration

 Packaged software could come with limitations in integrations. This means there’s no guarantee that the software will integrate smoothly with your proprietary systems or legacy applications. This could create a problem when you try building a single source of truth. However, modern packaged software like Salesforce allows integration with third-party and proprietary applications.

Custom applications are built for a specific purpose. Thus, they usually allow smooth integration with third-party and proprietary applications and provide a single source of truth that simplifies decision-making.

 5. Security

 At a time when security is paramount to prevent data breaches and penalties, organizations have to be careful while building or buying a software application.

Packaged software follows general security policies. The cybersecurity team may have to take additional measures to align the software with the organization’s security policies. They will then have no say in how frequently the software is audited or upgraded.

Custom applications are designed to meet the organization’s business needs. Thus, security by design will be the developer’s default approach. They will have complete control over security, ensuring the application aligns with the organization’s security policies and that data is stored safely. They will also have control over security audits and upgrades. This can also be a bad thing as the entire onus for securing the app comes down to the internal team and its capabilities.

 6. Support

 The work never ends with developing or installing software. Organizations’ users need continuous support throughout—from initial hiccups during onboarding to frequent troubleshooting or post-maintenance.

In the case of packaged software, organizations will have to depend on the solution provider for required support post-installation. They will be bound by the SLAs the provider commits to. This could leave the users disgruntled and even disrupt their work in specific cases. Some vendors offer tiered support, meaning organizations have to spend extra to receive preferential support. At other times, it’s possible to work with a third-party organization to secure support for well-known enterprise solutions.

Since custom applications are exclusively built for an organization, they must receive personalized support from the in-house IT team and the partner who built the product. With timely support, the organization can overcome issues quickly and ensure business continuity.

 7. Time to develop

 Since packaged software is readily available, organizations only spend time installing or adding customizations, if required.

Conversely, developing a custom application takes more time because it has to go through the process of gathering requirements, designing a prototype, building the software, testing, and launching it. Depending on the complexity, this process could take three to nine months.


How To Make The Right Choice?

By now, you should be familiar with the pros and cons of using custom applications and packaged software.

Let’s look at a few cases where you can use packaged software and custom applications. This will help you make the right choice.

Custom applications Packaged software
Use custom applications if: Use packaged software if:
–          You are building a unique application that sets you apart from competitors. –          You don’t have the time, resources, and budget to build an application and need an immediate solution.
–          You want more say on the application’s integrations, security, and other features. –          You want software to help you with generic tasks like accounting, payroll management, etc. – something that any software can do. There are no specific business needs.
–          You can’t find packaged software with the specific functionalities you want.
–          You have the time, resources, and budget to build an application from scratch. There’s no immediate need for a solution to solve a problem.


Building a custom application can be resource-intensive, expensive, and time-consuming. You could also face challenges like skills gaps, keeping pace with evolving technology, and performance optimization.

However, if done right, you might see positive results soon.

Work with a trustworthy technology partner like Trinus, who can understand your business goals and build custom applications for your organization.

At Trinus, we use our expertise to design, deploy, and maintain applications and optimize workflows and resource utilization.


To learn more about how we can help you, contact us.