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November 2020

Bespoke vs Off-the-shelf vs Hybrid database

Choosing a database system that ticks all the boxes for your business now and in the future can be a daunting task with many factors to take into considerations.  Download our guide to choosing the right database for your business here.

There are a lot of options available such as off the shelf, fully custom built, or a little bit of both. Click here to download our handy guide on which database is right for your business. In this article, we look at the benefits of each type and which one might be best suited for your business.

The choices and availability of off the shelf software are vast.  There are hundreds of online systems that cater to all tasks across all industries.  Getting started with most of these types of software is relatively cheap and quick to get started. This makes them perfect for smaller sized businesses.  While an off the shelf database may seem like an easy and attractive option to start with, there are many advantages to having a bespoke database software system.  A bespoke solution can offer more advantages and will likely be better in the long-term.

Advantages of bespoke database software systems

Taking on a large project may seem daunting but when you choose a bespoke database system that is unique to your business the possibilities are endless.  The initial outlay can pay for itself quickly and there are huge benefits to owning your own software.

  1.  Exclusive to your business

Going custom made will ensure that the database will do precisely what your business needs it to do. In addition, it will set you apart from competitors.  You don’t pay for features that you will never use plus you have ongoing support and maintenance from your developers.

  1.  Scalable 

As your business grows, it’s inevitable that changes and adaptations will be needed.  These can be made more easily with your own custom software as opposed to a one size fits all off the shelf system.  A bespoke database can be flexible and manage increased workloads and changes to processes easily.

  1.  Security

Another major benefit of choosing custom software is that it is more difficult for hackers to attack.  Hackers unfortunately, are already more than familiar with any vulnerabilities of the off-the-shelf systems.   With a system that is unique to your business and only accessible to your employees, you are keeping security risks to a minimum.

We’ve worked with Wirebox for a number of years and they’ve always been great – helpful, responsive, technically excellent and easy to work with. The latest iteration of our website with them has received very positive feedback from across the board. They are a great team – highly recommended.

Suzanne Kyle

Risks of using off the shelf software

Off-the-shelf software may be cheaper initially and in the short term.  However, when considering the requirements of a database longer term it’s useful to be aware of some of the risks when choosing this option.

Large feature set for majority of customers

Most off-the-shelf systems need to cater to a wide range of businesses.  This means that they offer a huge amount of features in order to please as many customers as possible.  While all these tools may seem useful, if they are not actually needed it can make the software more difficult to use and mean extra training for staff.  Sometimes companies can be put off by systems that claim to do it all.

Development changes are limited

Once a system has been in use for a while, you can expect it to need some minor customisations.  The better off-the-shelf systems allow this, but many do not.  Many off-the-shelf systems have an API (Application Programming Interface).  This is just a way to get data to and from a software system.  This is useful if the software does not have the data or the process you require as you are able to use the API to build this.  When the changes are minimal this may be feasible, but when you need to build a complete interface, it can actually make more sense to build the bespoke database yourself.

Never own the software

You will never own an off-the-shelf database. The benefit of this is that you don’t need to worry about managing the software and updates.  However, it’s important to also consider the problems with never owning the software. 

Never owning the software has its disadvantages, such as:

  1. Owning your software is IP in your business company and can add value  to your company.
  2. Competitors do not have access to your software.  Any off-the-shelf software system is accessible to your competitors.  Having your own unique software could give you the competitive edge. 
  3. By owning the software, you can customise and adapt it as and when needed to align with your business. 

Always on hand to support our website needs, and guide us in the right direction, Wirebox are instrumental to the online presence of our business and I have no hesitation in recommending them. Not only that, they certainly make my job a lot easier

Claire Connor

How about a hybrid database option?

The third option when considering which database is best suited for your business is the hybrid approach.  Some off-the-shelf systems allow for some customisations, so this could be a good option and possibly offer the best of both worlds.  

Deciding on a hybrid database would be a quicker and cheaper alternative to a fully bespoke option and may tick most of the required boxes.   You would need to research which off-the-shelf systems allow for development changes. On top of this, you need to ensure that your developers are familiar with the software and able to make the required amendments so that it may better fit your business needs.  If you decide on this option and then find out that the changes you were hoping for are not achievable this could end up costing more. It could be better to opt for a fully bespoke system with unlimited changes.

Which type of database is right for your business? 

Choosing the right type of database will depend on your business functions and requirements and what is available off-the-shelf. Many off-the-shelf systems developed for certain industries are being created and can be very good.  However, if your business is growing or wants a competitive edge a bespoke database can help achieve it and adapt long term.

Once your company makes an investment in a bespoke software database it can reap huge benefits long term.  We have built thousands of systems for our clients over the years and have proved time and time again the huge advantages that the company has benefited from with their custom database. 

Why you should choose Wirebox

Wirebox has long standing experience working with businesses to improve their data systems.  Our team has created custom databases using MySQL and Oracle among others.  We can also adapt existing databases, extract and migrate data from an old data system to a new one, or design new databases to fit with the applications your business uses.

Very happy to have worked with Wirebox over the last 6 months on a charity website, they are extremely quick to respond to requests and it’s been a real pleasure to work with John who has been able to advise and consult on questions to get the right solution for the website and working with other third parties. Thank you!

Kayleigh Moulds

By Caroline November 2020

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