By Arielle Mullen

The decision to develop a custom web application for your business isn't one to take lightly, and when so many OTS (off-the-shelf) options are available, how do you decide what's right for you?

Today we're taking you through the process (albeit a simplified approach), and giving you the key questions to consider when deciding if a custom web application is a fit for your business. 

STEP ONE: Outline the Core Business Needs

Before getting lost in the sea of available options (and we know, there are a staggering amount), take some time to list the essential functions of what the software absolutely needs to do. This will ensure that whether you go with an OTS product or something custom, it will address your most important business needs. Start by asking yourself (and your end users) questions like:

  • Do you have a required browser or server?
  • What are the applications being used currently? 
  • What functions are they primarily used for? 
  • Does your business have compliance issues or privacy regulations?
  • Will the application need to integrate with other software? 

It might seem simple, but by starting with the task of outlining your core business needs, you'll have a clear idea of the essential functions. Once complete you can review the available OTS solutions to decide if something exists that will suit your needs, or if a custom approach is required. 


When conducting research into the OTS solutions, keep your list of core business needs handy. If you've reviewed the options and nothing fits your list of requirements, it might be time to consider a custom approach. Alternatively, if you end up with a short list of solutions that fit the desired specifications, work through the list while asking yourself:

  • Will this solution be able to grow with my business? 
  • Will there be training required for the employees using it most? 
  • Will it integrate with the other software we use? 
  • Can we customize it to our specific needs? 
  • What are the costs involved in customizing this software to fit our needs?
  • What are the recurring costs for each solution? (Consider annual subscriptions or licensing fees, per-user costs, etc.)


By outlining your essential business needs, reviewing the available OTS solutions, and considering the costs involved, you'll have a more comprehensive view of your options. We recommend working with an M&I technology consultant to ensure the solution chosen (whether OTS or custom), will fully support your organization, manage all your needs, and allow for continual growth over time. 

If you'd like to learn more about custom web application development, get in touch with us to schedule a free consultation

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