Off-the-Shelf vs. Bespoke Software: Why Altido Cloud Offers the Best of Both Worlds


In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, choosing the right software solutions can be pivotal for success. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in sectors such as legal, industrial, manufacturing, and business services often find themselves at a crossroads when deciding between off-the-shelf and bespoke software.

The allure of quick fixes to specific problems often leads businesses to adopt multiple off-the-shelf solutions, each addressing a particular need. This can appear efficient initially but often results in a patchwork of systems that don’t integrate well together.

On the other hand, some businesses opt for bespoke software to create a perfect fit for their unique requirements, yet this approach comes with its own set of challenges. This article explores the pros and cons of both approaches and illustrates why Altido Cloud offers the best of both worlds.

Off-the-Shelf Software

Off-the-shelf software solutions are pre-packaged products designed to cater to a wide range of users and industries. These tools are often attractive to businesses because they can be implemented quickly and typically come at a lower initial cost. However, they also come with their own set of challenges.


  1. Fast Setup: Off-the-shelf solutions are ready to deploy, often requiring minimal configuration. This allows businesses to get up and running quickly without the need for extensive development work.
  2. Low Initial Cost: These solutions usually come with lower upfront costs compared to bespoke software, making them accessible to businesses with limited budgets.
  3. Ease of Use: Designed to be user-friendly, they are ideal for businesses that may not have a clear picture of their requirements yet. The user interfaces are typically well-developed and intuitive, reducing the learning curve.
  4. Regular Updates and Improvements: Off-the-shelf software often benefits from regular updates and improvements from the vendor. This ensures that the software stays current with new features, security patches, and industry standards without additional cost to the user.


  1. Lack of Integration: These solutions often don’t integrate seamlessly with each other, leading to fragmented workflows. Businesses may find themselves using multiple systems that do not communicate effectively.
  2. Scalability Issues: As your business grows, these tools can become prohibitively expensive. For example, HubSpot starts free but can quickly escalate in cost as you add more users and features.
  3. Operational Compromises: Businesses often need to adjust their processes to fit the software, rather than the software fitting their needs. This can lead to inefficiencies and frustrations.
  4. Support Challenges: Off-the-shelf solutions typically lack personalised support, making it difficult to resolve specific issues. Users might have to rely on generic help resources or forums.
  5. Security and Compliance: Managing data compliance and security can be challenging with multiple SaaS platforms, each with its own protocols. This can lead to vulnerabilities and compliance issues.

Off-the-Shelf Examples

Customer Relationship Management
  • Zoho CRM
  • Salesforce
  • HubSpot CRM
  • Pipedrive
Accounting and Finance
  • QuickBooks Online
  • Xero
  • FreshBooks
  • Wave
Email Marketing
  • Mailchimp
  • Constant Contact
  • Sendinblue
  • Campaign Monitor
Project Management
  • Asana
  • Trello
  • Basecamp
Collaboration and Communication
  • Slack
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Zoom
  • Google Workspace
Human Resources
  • BambooHR
  • Gusto
  • Zenefits
  • Workday
  • Shopify
  • BigCommerce
  • WooCommerce
  • Squarespace
File Storage and Sharing
  • Dropbox
  • Google Drive
  • OneDrive
  • Box
Marketing Automation
  • HubSpot
  • Marketo
  • ActiveCampaign
  • Pardot
Customer Support
  • Zendesk
  • Freshdesk
  • Intercom
  • Help Scout

Bespoke Software Solutions

Bespoke software solutions are custom-built to meet the specific needs of a business. Unlike off-the-shelf software, which offers a one-size-fits-all approach, bespoke software is designed to align perfectly with the unique workflows and requirements of an organisation. This tailored approach provides significant benefits but also comes with a set of challenges that businesses need to carefully consider.


  1. Custom Fit: Bespoke software can be tailored to fit the business like a glove, aligning perfectly with specific workflows and requirements. This ensures that the software supports rather than dictates business processes.
  2. Unique Features: You can develop unique functionalities that are not available in off-the-shelf solutions, providing competitive advantages and specific capabilities tailored to your business.
  3. Competitive Edge: Bespoke solutions can provide a competitive edge by offering unique features and capabilities that differentiate a business from its competitors. This can be crucial for businesses looking to stand out in their industry.


  1. High Initial Costs: Developing bespoke software requires significant upfront investment. The costs can be prohibitive, especially for small and medium-sized businesses.
  2. Project Risks: Projects can run over budget and miss deadlines due to unclear scopes or changing requirements. This unpredictability can be a major risk factor.
  3. Ongoing Maintenance: Without proper support arrangements, bespoke solutions can become outdated as the business evolves. Regular updates and maintenance are necessary to keep the software relevant.
  4. Communication Issues: Off-shoring development can lead to communication challenges and require extensive testing, often negating the initial cost savings. Differences in time zones, language barriers, and cultural differences can complicate project management.
  5. Long Development Times: Custom solutions typically have longer development timelines, delaying the time to value. The lengthy process from concept to deployment can be a drawback in fast-paced business environments.

Off-the-Shelf Examples

  • In-House Development
    Building software solutions using an internal team, ensuring complete control over the development process but requiring substantial resources and expertise.
  • Working with Development Partners
    Collaborating with external developers to create custom software, leveraging specialised skills and experience but involving higher costs and coordination efforts.
  • Off-shoring Development
    Outsourcing software development to teams in different countries to reduce costs. While cost-effective, it often comes with communication challenges and requires extensive management and testing to ensure quality.
  • Nearshoring Development
    Outsourcing software development to nearby countries to mitigate some of the communication challenges associated with off-shoring while still benefiting from lower costs. This can provide a balance between cost savings and effective communication.
  • Hybrid Approach
    Combining in-house development with outsourcing certain parts of the project to specialised external teams. This approach leverages the strengths of both in-house and outsourced development, ensuring critical components are closely managed while benefiting from external expertise.
  • Using Freelance Developers
    Hiring freelance developers for specific parts of the project. This can be more flexible and cost-effective than hiring a full-time team or a large development firm, especially for smaller, well-defined tasks.
  • Collaborative Partnerships
    Forming strategic partnerships with other companies or tech startups to co-develop software solutions. This can bring in additional expertise, share costs, and reduce development time.
  • Modular Development
    Building bespoke software in a modular fashion, where different components or modules are developed independently. This can make the development process more manageable and allow for incremental improvements and scalability.
  • Custom Integrations
    Developing bespoke integrations between existing software systems to create a seamless workflow. This is particularly useful for businesses with unique processes that cannot be addressed by standard off-the-shelf software integrations.

The Altido Cloud Alternative

In the debate between off-the-shelf and bespoke software, Altido Cloud emerges as a powerful alternative that combines the best of both worlds. It offers a flexible, scalable, and integrated platform designed to meet the diverse needs of small and medium-sized businesses across various industries. Whether you are in legal, industrial, manufacturing, or business services, Altido Cloud provides tailored solutions that grow with your business, supported by a team of local experts.

Key Features of Altido Cloud

  • Pre-Built Modules: Altido Cloud comes with a range of ready-to-use modules including CRM, Billing, HR, Helpdesk, and Project Management. These modules can be deployed in minutes, providing immediate functionality to address core business needs.
  • Customisation: Unlike traditional off-the-shelf solutions, Altido Cloud allows extensive customisation. You can remove irrelevant features and add fields and labels specific to your business processes. This ensures the software fits your operations perfectly without requiring you to adapt to rigid structures.
  • Rapid Development: Leveraging our robust core platform, we can develop bespoke modules significantly faster than traditional methods. Often up to five times quicker, this rapid development capability means you get tailored solutions in a fraction of the time and cost.
  • Integration and Connectivity: Altido Cloud excels in integration, acting as the ‘glue’ that binds disparate systems together. It seamlessly integrates with popular third-party tools, ensuring smooth workflows and data consistency across your business operations.
  • Scalability and Flexibility: The platform is designed to scale with your business. There are no limits on database size, and the flexible architecture supports easy modifications and expansions as your business grows and evolves.
  • Local Support: Our dedicated helpdesk and business success team provide support in your time zone, speaking your language and understanding your business needs. This ensures you receive timely and relevant assistance whenever required.

Customer Success Stories

Check out our case studies for more in depth examples. Here are a few in summary:
  • Property Lettings Company: A property lettings company was struggling with multiple systems and spreadsheets that did not communicate with each other. Altido implemented a comprehensive solution that integrated these systems, supported their specific business model, and integrated with third-party sites like Rightmove and Stu-Rents. As the client’s business evolved, so did the Altido solution, ensuring continuous alignment with their growing needs.
  • Manufacturing Company: A manufacturing company faced challenges with a central ERP system that lacked CRM functionality and relied heavily on spreadsheets and internal databases. Altido started by implementing a central CRM with bespoke forecasting, addressing the unique challenges of their business. Over time, additional modules for product development, supply chain support, and budget management were delivered, continuously adapting to the company’s changing needs.


In summary, Altido Cloud provides a compelling alternative to both off-the-shelf and bespoke software. It offers the quick deployment and lower initial costs of off-the-shelf solutions while also providing the customisation and unique features typically associated with bespoke development. This hybrid approach ensures that businesses can benefit from a solution that is both flexible and robust, backed by local support and the ability to scale and evolve as needed. By choosing Altido Cloud, businesses can achieve operational efficiency, seamless integration, and tailored functionality, all within a single, cohesive platform.