8 min read

Pros & Cons: Off-the-Shelf vs. Custom ITSM Solutions

February 9, 2023

So, you’re thinking about implementing an ITSM solution. 

No surprise there! IT ticket volumes have climbed by over 35% in the last few years, and more businesses are planning to invest in MSPs and ITSM solutions to manage their IT and ticketing processes than ever before.  

But with so many ITSM solutions out there, finding the right one for your organization can be challenging. Cloud-based or on-premise, paid or free, off-the-shelf or custom...  

It’s that last pair we set out to clarify in this blog. Read on for an overview of the pros and cons of off-the-shelf vs. custom ITSM solutions, and discover which one can best help you improve IT efficiencies and operations. 

The Pros of Off-the-Shelf ITSM Solutions 

Off-the-shelf ITSM solutions can help you manage IT processes immediately upon implementing them. The solution is pre-conceived and doesn’t require intense customizations or onboarding. That ready-to-use element comes with some significant advantages: 

  1. Speedy implementation: Off-the-shelf ITSM solutions are much easier to deploy than their tailor-made counterparts. There is a standard, reliable implementation process with these solutions, so they can be ready to go quickly, in contrast to the months-long development and implementation phase of custom ITSM solutions. 
  2.  Low cost: Because off-the-self ITSM solutions take a “one-size-fits-all” approach, they usually cost less to purchase and implement than a custom solution. Most ready-made ITSM software cost less than $1,000 per month, although that can change depending on various factors such as the number of users, subscription tier, and more. 
  3. Easy to learn: If you choose an off-the-shelf solution, you likely won’t be forging an unknown path; many organizations use the exact off-the-shelf solutions, so customer support and knowledge bases likely already exist, and the features themselves are far less complex to master than more customized options. 

The Cons of Off-the-Shelf-ITSM Solutions 

Off-the-shelf ITSM solutions also come with a few notable disadvantages: 

  1. Limited features: The one-size-fits-all approach means that not all features are included in these solutions, and adding new ones can be costly. That means that you might encounter the issue of not having the necessary functions or having to work around features you never use. 
  2. Minimal flexibility: The capabilities of an off-the-shelf solution are fairly set in stone, so it’s often hard to modify the software to align more with your organization’s specific goals. There may also be tech stack compatibility issues when it comes to solutions that weren’t designed to fit seamlessly with your other tools.  
  3. Harder to stand out: With the same ITSM solutions available to your competitors, it can be harder to stand out in a competitive market when using ready-made software. Additionally, relying on the software provider to fix any issues means there’s a lack of ownership and control of these ITSM solutions, making it more challenging to stay competitive. 

The Pros of Custom ITSM Solutions 

Custom ITSM solutions are precisely what they sound like: solutions tailor-made and developed to fit your business’s specific needs and goals. Custom ITSM solutions come with their fair share of pros:  

  1. Adaptive and relevant functionalities: With a custom solution, you can meet all requirements essential to your business, from unique ticketing specifications to compatible integrations. You can also modify these functionalities more quickly, especially if your custom ITSM solution is low code.  
  2. Enhanced security: Developers can provide additional safety measures when creating your custom solution. They can go beyond simple two-factor authentication to add serious safety measures and encryptions, so there’s far less risk of a user data breach and a high level of customer trust. 
  3. Competitive features: Because a custom ITSM solution aligns with your exact processes and needs, you’ll possess functionalities and properties that your competitors don’t have, allowing you to stand out and be exactly what your users need.  

The Cons of Custom ITSM Solutions 

Developing a custom ITSM solution also has some distinct disadvantages:  

  1. Larger up-front investment: The average cost of custom software development is $36,000, but many projects can exceed that. Custom ITSM software is undoubtedly not the quick-fix, low-cost solution, and opting to develop the software can be a heavy financial lift. 
  2. Steeper learning curve: It takes 4-9 months to develop custom ITSM solutions, and then learning the complex, never-before-seen system can take several additional months. Mastering custom functionalities may be worth it, but it can be time-consuming for the average user. 
  3. The risk of failure: Because they’re one of a kind, custom ITSM solutions have the potential to be less reliable than their off-the-shelf counterpart, which has widely tested features. Additionally, hiring a development firm that doesn’t necessarily test the solution for every use case can lead to challenges down the line.  

Off-the-Shelf vs. Custom ITSM Solutions: The Conclusion 

Both off-the-shelf and custom ITSM solutions have a lot to offer to businesses. If your organization is well-established, has a larger budget, and has unique needs that off-the-shelf software may not meet, then a custom ITSM solution might be for you. If you need a faster and cheaper solution, starting with an off-the-shelf solution could be a great addition to your tech stack. Whichever you choose, you’ll be able to elevate your ITSM processes like never before.  

Looking for a reliable ITSM solution that adapts to your specific needs? Sign up to try DeskDirector! 


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