How do costs of a custom database application compare to an Off-the-Shelf application?

Well, that depends! It depends on what is available in the marketplace, and how well it suits your needs. For example, we cannot compete with QuickBooks and it’s comprehensive accounting system for small businesses. They’ve put hundreds of thousands of man-hours into QB and made it a great product – PCApps would be much more expensive to try to duplicate that. However, for many, many products, the cost of the product and subsequent licensing, support and customization costs are vastly higher than what it would cost to build what you need. For example, SAP is a very expensive, high-end product, that nearly always needs significant customization on top of the original costs. While we cannot compete re-developing the entire SAP suite, most businesses do not need that. We have been very successful building custom ERP/MRP/Inventory systems that do just what your business wants/needs, using just the workflow your business finds most effecient – no more and not less – without having all the excess features extant in SAP that you may not need. And we have done these custom applications at a fraction of the cost of the equivalent SAP system. I’m picking on SAP here, but we have had significant success building out extensive applications in many domains.