Custom and Out-of-the-Box Software: Comparison

7 min read

Each company with software needs has faced a dilemma of whether it should go for custom software or license an out-of-the-box solution. Turnkey solutions are affordable but mostly offer a rather generic experience, while custom software can facilitate peculiar workflows but for a higher price.

Casting these general assumptions aside, we’ll go over the basics of custom software development and define off-the-shelf solutions. We’ll also weigh up the pros and cons of either option, so each business gets to decide what works best for its situation.

What is custom software development?

Essentially, custom software development equals getting a solution tailored specifically to the needs of a business. Such a solution could be developed in-house or by an outsourced team from a software development company.

Every bit of a custom solution would serve to benefit the business but there are also some shortcomings.

Custom software: Pros and cons

Long time to market
Developing software from scratch means that a business won’t launch quickly. Some solutions might take up to a year of development by a dedicated team.
Tailored to your unique needs
A business gets a software solution tailored to its needs from A to Z. All matters are taken into account: scalability, corporate branding and colors, adaptation to regional specifics, UI/UX requirements, etc.
Requires substantial investment
The second point stems from the first one: time means money. The longer it takes to develop a solution, the more costly it becomes.
You can launch new features and roll out updates at your discretion by requesting them from a development team.
Hard to choose the right vendor
The disadvantage is the struggle to choose the right software vendor that won’t let the company down. There is an abundance of them on the market, so finding the one and only might turn into a hurdle.
Opportunity to buy source code
If a company would like to hold an IPO, increase its valuation, or bring the development in-house, it can buy out the source code of its tailored solution. Most software vendors have such an option, although it’s expensive.

What are out-of-the-box software solutions?

Basically, it’s ready-made software that could be rolled out in a short time to market. It’s usually developed to fit the needs common to its target audience. Such software either comes as is or allows branding with corporate colors and a logo (which is called a white label).

Off-the-shelf solutions usually don’t allow tailoring to specific workflows and business needs. So if your business has peculiar demands, you’ll need to find a workaround. That’s one of the most significant differences from custom solutions.

In terms of costs, the pricing of such solutions usually depends on the number of users. The most widespread formula looks like this: initial delivery lump sum + monthly licensing price based on the number of users. If we’re talking trading platforms, a vendor might base pricing on your trading volumes.

Out-of-the-box software also might require additional integrations, hosting, technical support, and maintenance. Some vendors include them in licensing costs, some don’t, it’s up to you to weigh various options.

Taking everything into account, a turnkey product is convenient for businesses willing to launch quickly. But before we jump to conclusions, let’s weigh in on all pros and cons.

Out-of-the-box software solutions: Pros and cons

Short time to market
The name “turnkey” speaks for itself—if a solution isn’t very complex, it might take just a day to integrate (this is the case for our DXcharts widget). For larger systems like trading platforms, the integration takes one to two weeks.
Too rigid
Ready-made software can barely be tailored to specific workflows. If a business wants something different or new, they might not be able to get it, putting them at a disadvantage to those firms who can develop their own software to keep up with new products and trends.
Depending on a vendor’s offer, a turnkey solution might be a great investment. Many turnkey solutions come as a whole package that doesn’t require extra expenses on hosting or maintenance (like our turnkey trading platform DXtrade).
Costly extras
Vendors price turnkey solutions differently, and some sell bare products for an attractive price but charge additional fees for integrations, hosting, technical support, and maintenance. Some vendors are even guilty of micro-billing as they try to compensate for low-yielding core products.
Tried and tested technology
Turnkey solutions usually have a wide client base that has already reported most major bugs and continues to do so if new ones arrive with new releases. This helps vendors to fix their solutions faster (and there are always bugs, be it custom or turnkey software).
Vendor lock-in
A software vendor might not release enough updates or not keep up with the current industry trends and regulations. This way, your software might get outdated, and you’ll be stuck without a possibility to fix the situation.
Your branding
Most turnkey solutions can be branded with your logo, and some of them allow painting UI into your corporate color scheme. This way you don’t lose your company’s identity and enjoy all the perks of the turnkey solution.
Hard to choose the right vendor
When choosing a turnkey software, it’s easier because there’s more feedback from its users but it still could turn out to be a struggle.

Putting scalability in parentheses

When considering both options, we’ve taken off the table the scalability issue. The reason is that for custom software to be scalable, you’ll need to specify it in the requirements compiled before the development, meaning you need to know the number of users you might get in the not-so-near future.

Turnkey solutions also allow scalability but you need to thoroughly research to what extent and at what cost.


The bottom line is—you need to accurately evaluate your business needs and go with the most fitting option. If you’re not launching a one-of-a-kind business, an FX brokerage, for example, you’ll do great with a turnkey trading platform, at least at the start of your journey.

If you’re launching something new outside of the box, you’ll need to go for custom software that will check all of your boxes.

Businesses must consider factors such as budget, timeline, scalability, industry regulations, and the complexity of their operations. Involving all stakeholders and seeking expert advice during the decision-making process can also provide valuable insights into which solution would be the most suitable for the organization’s growth and success.

Also, the choice between turnkey and custom software is not an absolute one. A hybrid approach might be the most optimal path in certain cases, blending off-the-shelf solutions with tailored modifications. This way, businesses can leverage the best of both worlds and achieve a finely tuned software ecosystem that meets their unique needs while minimizing costs and development time. Some software vendors offer this option, and Devexperts is one of them.