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Custom PCA Solution vs. Packaged Software

It always makes good sense to explore commercially-available software as a potential solution to your needs, especially if time-to-market is the primary concern.   How does a typical software package compare with a custom solution — in terms of cost, risk, time-to-market, and overall fit with your business needs? Some of the key issues you want to explore include:
  • Functional Fit — Does the software package offer the core capabilities that you need?   Are you paying for a lot of features you don't need?
  • Customization — What is the additional cost to configure or customize the package to suit your specific data management needs?
  • Robustness — Is it a commercial-grade offering built on a real database (E.g. Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle), or is it simply a User Interface built atop MS Access or something else?
  • Integration — What is the additional cost to integrate the software with your existing business applications (accounting, manufacturing, inventory, etc)?
  • Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) — What is the actual cost to own and use the system over time, taking into account Licensing, Customization, Training, Data Conversion, Configuration, Integration, Annual Maintenance & Support?
If you are like many businesses, you will discover that the cost to fit most commercial software packages to your specific business needs is prohibitive, and the fully-burdened total cost of ownership over time is more expensive than building a custom solution.  For any "outside the box" requirements, be prepared for 2-3x the licensing fees for the professional services necessary to customize and integrate the package to your specific needs. 
  Software Vendor PCA
Application "Fit" 80 / 20 Rule 100%
Licensing Fees Per User/Server None
Service Fees 2-3x Licensing As Needed
Maintenance & Support 20% Annual
M&S Fee
20% Project Fee
(1st Year only)
Time-to-Market 3-4 Months 6-12 Months
Risk High cost-to-switch Open (Microsoft)
When you take into consideration the software licensing costs, the professional service fees necessary to customize and integrate the software, and the annual maintenance and support fees, our Clients often discover that it is far more cost-effective to build a custom solution from scratch, and the results are far superior (and more relevant) to your business needs.  A typical outcome of licensing: 1) you pay a lot more than you originally anticipate to "fit" the software to your specific business needs; 2) you are saddled with ongoing licensing, subscription, maintenance and support fees (fees which grow in proportion to your use); and 3) you are locked into with a single Vendor solution, with a significant cost-to-switch.
PCA believes there is a better way.   Smart Clients provide an ASP-like approach to centralized, repeatable application deployment and security, with ZERO ongoing Licensing fees.   End-Users get a highly-functional, high performance, easy-to-use and reliable application powered by industry standard MS SQL Servers.