Off the Shelf Solution or Custom Built?

By Nabiha Balala

Franchise Management Software Naranga

Franchise brands across various industries, often hit a time where the information they need to manage becomes greater than the resources they have in hand. More times than not, this comes up when there seems to be rapid growth, and a brand truly begins to emerge with new and additional locations (although, personally, I believe the question should be asked even before the additional locations are built). What is this question after all? It is – Should we pursue building our own solution or should we use a vendor for our technology?

In the remainder of this blog we will be discussing the differences and pros and cons between choosing a “custom built” solution or an “off the shelf” solution.

Why are custom, homegrown solutions still thought of today? It’s simple, it is the luxury of building your own personal adventure – exactly the way you want it. When a franchisor picks this route, they are able to focus on the necessities that they need within their technology solution. You can have the solution built to be completely branded and in alignment with the company design guide, while addressing specific problems driven by your organization. This way, you do not have to worry about a surplus of features preferred by other brands in different industries disrupting your natural flow. 

Ultimately, you will likely be spending more than you’d prefer when building your software solution while addressing the problems that are unique to your business. Maintenance may be a challenge because, like with all technology, you must maintain the code and infrastructure as more data and content is uploaded into the system. Also, when building your own solution, innovation may come slower because you may have a limitation of resources within your office. 

Why do so many brands default to an “off the shelf” solution? Because it makes sense. An “off the shelf” solution provides an enormous amount of technical convenience to the buyer by being a pre-built piece of software. Also, the software, depending on which one is purchased, has most likely been used and or proven by parties in the past, thus taking away room for a surplus of bugs to exist. This also takes away stress from the buyer because when something is validated, it makes it easier to see it’s worth, and a proven system is often appreciated by franchisees. Franchisees will be the ones interacting with the technology on a daily basis – so it is best to cater to their needs. A few other perks of using an “off the shelf” solution are listed below:

  • Much more cost efficient than building your own solution
  • Technology partners have a market of customers they are working with, and are exposed to a plethora of feedback on their technology
  • Most technology providers offer options for configurability
  • Forgo expensive maintenance costs
  • Always receive the most up-to-date software

A potential downfall with an “off the shelf” solution, would be scenarios where you have a lack of configurability or very specific use cases. These cases could be irrelevant to other clients of the provider.

As you can see, when you’ve done the hard work of vetting what is best for your brand, there is really no wrong answer here. Both have their pros and cons. With an “off the shelf” solution, you are being much more economical to your wallet, while also having to deal with a solution that has been adjusted and altered by the recommendations of many brands. Whereas, with a “custom built” solution, you are much more aggressive on the cost standpoint, but have the option to build a software solution that caters specifically to your requirements. Do you your research, sign up for some trials, and decide which one it is for you – with the right minds in place, both can be tremendously helpful towards continued franchise success.

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Tags: Franchise Software, Software Solutions, Technology, franchise management software