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build vs buy custom software

Build vs Buy Custom Software Solutions

In today’s digital world, software plays a vital role in every aspect of life and business. Software can help us communicate, learn, work, entertain, and solve problems. However, not all software is created equal. Some software is generic and mass-produced, while some software is custom-made and tailored to specific needs and preferences. When faced with the decision to build vs buy custom software, organizations often find themselves at a crossroads, weighing the pros and cons of each approach. 

Here we’ll explore the differences between buying and building custom software solutions and the factors to consider when making this important decision.

What is Custom Software?

Custom software refers to software built specifically for an organization, its customers, healthcare professionals or patients. Unlike off-the-shelf solutions, custom software is uniquely focused on solving specific problems or addressing unique requirements. It offers a personalized approach to software development tailored to meet the specific needs and preferences of the end-users.

Custom software can be used for various purposes, such as:

  • Automating business processes and workflows
  • Enhancing customer service and patient engagement
  • Improving data management and analysis
  • Increasing security and compliance
  • Innovating new products and services
  • Optimizing performance and quality

Some examples of custom software are:

  • A mobile app that connects patients with doctors and provides remote consultations, prescriptions, and referrals
  • A web portal that allows employees to access and share information, documents, and resources across different locations and devices
  • A dashboard that displays real-time data and insights from multiple sources and systems
  • A game that adapts to the player’s preferences, skills, and progress
  • A software tool that automates the design and testing of medical devices

Build vs Buy Custom Software Decision

The decision to buy or build custom software is complex and a thorough evaluation of various factors, including time, cost, functionality, scalability, and long-term sustainability should be undertaken. Let’s explore the pros and cons of each approach:


  • Opportunity for Innovation: Building custom software allows organizations to innovate and create solutions that are tailored to their unique requirements and processes. It enables them to break free from the constraints of off-the-shelf products and develop solutions that truly work for them. 
  • Long-term Cost Savings: While the initial costs of building custom software may be higher, the long-term costs are often lower compared to purchasing off-the-shelf solutions. Organizations can avoid recurring licensing fees and maintenance costs associated with third-party software vendors.
  • Tailored Solutions: Custom software enables organizations to create solutions that align perfectly with their business processes and workflows. It offers the flexibility to incorporate specific features and functionalities that are essential for their operations.  It can capture the essence of what makes an organization or process stand out and allow the organization to excel.


  • Lower Initial Costs: Purchasing off-the-shelf software may involve lower initial costs compared to building custom solutions. It depends on how out of the box the solution can be used.  However, organizations must carefully consider the long-term costs associated with customization, licensing, and maintenance.
  • Time to Market: Off-the-shelf solutions typically have shorter implementation times, allowing organizations to quickly deploy software and start realizing benefits. However, customizations may prolong the deployment timeline and delay time to market.
  • Vendor Lock-in: Organizations that opt for off-the-shelf solutions may become dependent on the vendor for ongoing support and updates. This can limit flexibility and autonomy in decision-making, leading to vendor lock-in.

Options to Build

Deciding who to build custom software involves assessing internal capabilities, resource availability, and project requirements. Organizations must weigh the benefits of in-house development against the advantages of outsourcing to a custom software development company like Estenda Solutions. Here are things to consider:

  • In-house Development: Choose in-house development if you have the necessary resources, expertise, and experience to manage software projects effectively. Consider factors such as resource availability and previous experience in software development.
  • Outsourcing: Opt for outsourcing if you lack internal resources, expertise, or experience to undertake the project. Outsourcing allows organizations to leverage the expertise of custom software development companies and gain a fresh perspective on their projects.

Selecting a Custom Software Vendor

Selecting the right custom software development company is crucial for the success of your project. Here are a few things an organization should consider when deciding to outsource:

  • Onshore, Nearshore or Offshore: Evaluate the cost vs value proposition of onshore, nearshore vs offshore development. While onshore development may be more expensive, it offers better cultural fit and value. Offshore development may be cheaper but comes with challenges such as time zones and language barriers. An onshore company with near- and offshore capabilities may be the best option using the best options available for the situation.
  • Industry/Domain Focus: Choose a company with experience and expertise in your industry or domain. Healthcare and medical software, for example, require compliance with regulations such as HIPAA and HITECH, as well as potential FDA and EU regulatory approval.  A vendor familiar with healthcare data and data exchange protocols like HL7 and FHIR will accelerate the development timelines.
  • Certifications: Look for companies that are ISO13485 certified, ensuring adherence to quality management standards for medical devices and software. While your organization may not be building a medical device or software that needs to be regulated by the FDA. An organization with ISO13485 certification or that follows IEC62304 standards like Estenda, demonstrates the organization has a well-documented and proven software development process that is independently audited to ensure compliance over time.

Why Custom Software?

Custom software offers numerous benefits over off-the-shelf solutions, including:

  • Unique Requirements: Custom software can be designed to meet the specific needs and requirements of an organization, providing tailored solutions that address unique challenges. 
  • Improved Efficiency: Custom software streamlines processes, automates repetitive tasks, and enhances productivity, leading to improved efficiency and operational performance.
  • Better User Experience: Custom software is designed with a focus on user experience, making it easier and more intuitive for employees or customers to use. 
  • Competitive Advantage: By having unique and tailored solutions, organizations can differentiate themselves from competitors and gain a competitive edge in the market.
  • Integration and Scalability: Custom software can be seamlessly integrated with existing systems and processes, ensuring compatibility and scalability as the organization grows.

Ultimately what makes your organization unique? What is your value add?  If you buy software do you have to change your processes and approach to conform to the software OR do you build a solution tailored to what makes you unique and successful?

For tailored healthcare or medical software solutions designed to meet your unique needs and requirements, contact Estenda Solutions today. Our experienced team is committed to delivering innovative and cost-effective solutions that drive positive outcomes for your organization. Reach out to us at (484) 362-1200 or via email at info@estenda.com to get started.

Remember, with Estenda Solutions, the possibilities are endless!