You can’t solve every problem with an out-of-the box Microsoft solution. So how can you tell when you need a custom solution developed? We polled our development team and came up with these 6 tips in helping you make the determination that is best for your business need.

Unique Business Need
When you have a unique business need, you may start out looking at out-of-the box solutions, however, this often requires you to change your business processes to fit the out-of-the box product to make the solution work. In this case it may make more sense to develop a custom solution.

However, it is important to note, that you shouldn’t be resistant to considers a out-of-the box solution, because sometimes it can come with performance gains or even alternative business processes that might meet the business need in a better way. Change isn’t always a bad thing.

Level of Control
If your organization requires complete control over the application, you may not be able to use a out-of-the-box solution. Out-of-the-box solutions can come with restrictions on functionality and support. Some may even prevent you from altering the database or rebuilding the solution file.

Solution Extension
Can the out-of-the-box solution be extended through custom development? For example, use of a platform like SharePoint, CRM, or WordPress may satisfy a majority of the requirements out-of-the-box. leaving a smaller footprint of features that has to be custom developed. Of course, you’d need to consider if the cost and effort in custom developing on the solution aren’t greater than developing everything custom.

The 90% Rule is sometimes used to help determine whether to extend of a custom solution or not. If the off-the-shelf app will do 90% of what you want and the other 10% isn’t critical it will more than likely save you time and effort to go with the off the shelf app with custom effort than to spend the time and money to build something from scratch.

Support Expectancy
What’s the support expectancy of the out-of-the-box solution? Ensuring the solution will have longevity beyond the course of the need of the solution is important. You wouldn’t want to deploy a solution that will be out of service and at risk of unsupported failure before its value is realized. Out-of-the box solutions tend to render diminishing support over time.

Complexity of Requirements
The more complex the business requirements are the harder it is to find a out-of-the box solution that will fit your exact needs and the more customization that are needed. At some point the customizations become so cumbersome and costly that it makes more sense to have a custom solution developed.

Customer Preference
Some customers may dictate that a solution must be put in place without use of any custom development. This is when you really need to rely on strong knowledge of the potential solutions in order to ensure customer requirements can be met.

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