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Because there are so many software outsourcing options, they must give their customers the best business software possible. In previous articles, InApps addressed a wide variety of topics with various forms of software outsourcing. Custom software and commercial off-the-shelf software (COTS software) are two of the most common types, with the most noticeable difference.

The contrast is clearly shown in the different characteristics, and it is also a complementary aspect depending on the software development needs of each organization. For example, when considering enterprise resource management (ERM), it may have many built-in features. Still, it will only be helpful if it fulfills the organization’s business needs that employ it. Let’s look at the differences between commercial off-the-shelf and custom software.


COTS vs custom software development

What is COTS software?

Non-developmental items (NDI) marketed in the commercial marketplace and utilized or purchased through government contracts are commercial off the shelf software (COTS). The Federal Acquisition Regulation defines the set of COTS (FAR) regulations.

A commercial off the shelf software (COTS) product is often a computer hardware or software product that has been modified for specific needs and made available to the general public. Such items are intended to be easily accessible and user-friendly. Microsoft Office or antivirus software are examples of COTS products. A COTS product is any product that is available off the shelf and does not require bespoke development before installation.

Purchasing COTS products has become a need for many large corporations. It is common for a large business to include multiple commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) items into its system for improved functionality and as a relatively risk-free investment. This has resulted in a growing market for commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) items.


What is COTS software?

What are the Advantages of using COTS Software?

The usage of COTS enables a product developer to benefit from technology breakthroughs, cost reductions, and speedy procurement due to commercial marketplace competitive pressures and innovations in other DoD or government organizations. The usage of these goods can reduce or eliminate the need for costly, time-consuming government-sponsored R&D activities.


Advantages of using Commercial Off The Shelf Software

The following are the advantages of adopting commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components:

  • Cut costs
  • Shorten the development time.
  • Allow for the speedier incorporation of new technologies.
  • Reduce life-cycle costs by utilizing a more readily available and up-to-date commercial, industrial foundation.
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COTS vs Custom Software: What is the difference?

Custom software is a designed software solution just for you. They will examine your requirements and provide a specific plan for developing such a product.

On the other hand, commercial off the shelf software has other features, such as being a product that you can buy and use right now. Companies often manufacture this product that adheres to the one-size-fits-all strategy, selling the same set of services to all clients with limited customization. Even though these things are based on general best practices, they may not be appropriate for your requirements.

The following is an easy way to demonstrate the difference between these two concepts:


Cots software vs Custom software in comparison

Custom Software DevelopmentCOTS Software Development
  • Contain precisely the features you require
  • Owning an idea – a company’s identity
  • Flexible prices
  • Future seamless support
  • Offering for a fixed price
  • Quickness (buying and using is always without going through too much complex development and design process)
  • Developed in response to market demands
Who should use this type?

  • The bulk will be businesses and organizations with specialized requirements and corporate brands. It may be considered that the company’s size has nothing to do with the need to utilize these two types of services, but it relies on the firm’s demands and future direction with software products that they desire.
Who should use this type?

  • As stated at the beginning of the article, this “one-piece fits all model” type is an excellent choice for organizations with a modest budget that want a basic product for a small requirement and accounts for a negligible part of the hazards that can be brought about by employing the program.

COTS vs Custom Software: What is better?

What should you choose between COTS software and custom software?


Custom software vs off the shelf software


When evaluating all of the charges, the total cost of ownership must be included. The initial costs of custom software development may be higher, but the ongoing expenditures will be lower. On the other hand, as a business owner, you don’t have to worry if the product you buy has issues you don’t know who is to blame. The outsourced developers themselves will handle the development issues, saving you a lot of time by not having to deal with problems and upgrades.

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On the other hand, COTS software will have cheap starting costs but higher service expenses. As a consequence, you will be required to pay for each month. You’ll have to pay for an upgrade, more customization, or help if you want it.


A custom software development project will take far longer than an off-the-shelf commercial. However, this is not always viewed as a negative, but rather as an opportunity for the outsourcing team better to understand the client company’s business and market characteristics.

Understanding the timing issue, software development firms employ Agile methodologies and MVP demos to speed up the process, which may verify core capabilities and functionality. However, deploying the complete solution might take many months.


New apps may be readily added with tailored software without disturbing existing operations or losing crucial data. As your company expands, the software will be simple to adapt and alter. Incorporating commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software is a little more complicated. If it is not adapted to your needs, your data may be corrupted, or you may incur additional expenditures.

Set of features

The collection of characteristics is a significant distinction between these two notions. You will have greater functionality with bespoke software development since it will be designed with your demands in mind and adapted for every activity.

As a result, COTS software will be severely limited in this area because it was designed for mass-market demand. Buyers don’t have many chances to contact software developers, ask questions, or request that they add more modules or remove something they don’t need.

Additional maintenance

You also get a valuable bonus when you buy anything: a post-purchase warranty. Similarly, when purchasing or contracting a software development project, you must get this correct to ensure that there aren’t too many problems that harm your organization’s primary goal.

You will have access to ongoing support while utilizing the unique software solution. You won’t have to worry about bugs, system outages, or antiquated tools since specialized professionals will always be ready to help you. COTS software often contains a solid support system as long as they have a significant number of clients utilizing their product and need to keep them delighted to maintain their reputation. Not to mention the possibility of upgrades being delayed or even charged.

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Final Words

Because we strive for perfection in software outsourcing, we provide extraordinary abilities, talents, and a tried-and-true strategy. We are a seasoned software outsourcing firm with well-established worldwide skills, quality standards, and delivery methodologies that safeguard business values.

High-quality product results from a fantastic team and equally fantastic software development techniques collaborating to create it. Over developers are experts in web and mobile app development, DevOps, database, cloud migration, blockchain, artificial intelligence, etc.

The excellent rating of InApps Technology and selection as a software outsourcing partner by many worldwide clients is not by luck but rather through the quality.

Contact us with your basic details for a free quotation and consultation!

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I am Tam, Founder & CEO of InApps Technology, ranked 1st in Vietnam and 5th in Southeast Asia in Application Development and Custom Software Development. We build a team with a people-centered culture that serves our customers with the WOW experience. I have helped hundreds of startups and brands to succeed with our robust technology solution. Besides, I have 5,000+ connections with C-Levels on LinkedIn and 10,000+ other professionals in communities. I hope to bring BIG VALUES to our right partners and customers. What I can help: – World-class software development service. – Building a dedicated talent team for only 30% of your local vendors’ cost. – Consulting tech startup solutions comprehensively and systematically. – Growth-hacking marketing solution. If you read here, don’t hesitate to contact me for further advice.

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