Software Solutions: COTS, Custom, or Framework?

Software Solutions: COTS, Custom, or Framework?

When it comes to selecting software solutions, governments and large corporations need dynamic applications to regularly handle large-scale operations. It is important that the interface, business logic, data, and system capabilities come together to create a powerful, efficient solution that meets an organization’s needs. There are three main options when choosing software solutions: commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS), custom, or the use of a framework. Choosing the right solution can save time and money, while optimizing operations for a personalized experience.


Commercial (COTS)

The first option is a commercial software product, referred to as COTS. This off-the-shelf software is available to the public and comes with a preset user interface and integrated business logic. The user needs to simply plug in the data, and the software can handle the operations. COTS software is inexpensive and has a lot of intuitive built-in capabilities, helping you perform basic operations with ease.


The disadvantage of COTS is that one size does not fit all! While it was created to encompass a broad range of organizations and perform a large variety of operations, sometimes COTS software just isn’t compatible with an organization. It is almost impossible to customize this software, it is only configurable. If it doesn’t match your workflow, a COTS software can cost more money than it saves.



Another option is a custom software solution, built from scratch and tailored to an organization’s specific needs. While it takes longer to develop (1-3 years), the interface and business logic can be thoroughly customized. Custom software solutions are perfect investment for organizations with unique operations that require special algorithms.


With so much flexibility, however, custom solutions can be a double-edged sword; you don’t know what you don’t know! If you aren’t aware of a certain feature, capability, or desire that can enhance your process, it cannot be incorporated into the software. Once code is created, the different parts of the solution are tightly interwoven; changes may require more time and money.



A third option is building a software solution on a framework. This framework is content management, a workflow process. When building this process, you can personalize your capabilities, similar to a custom solution. Framework solutions usually take only 3-12 months to create, and upon implementation, you can extend the workflow to other departments and operations. Enterprise Content Management, such as FileNet, M-Files, OnBase, are examples of software solution frameworks. Building software solutions on a framework is a helpful alternative to COTS or custom solutions that is sometimes overlooked. It allows organizations to customize system capabilities while streamlining their operations.

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