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Buy off-the-shelf or create solutions using No-Code?

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Steer Team
Buying off-the-shelf or using no-code

Companies undergoing digital transformation or looking to deploy solutions face a conundrum when it comes to equipping their organizations with the best digital solutions to address business challenges. Most consider purchasing off-the-shelf solutions which would best suit their business requirements. While this might work in some cases, for a large majority of the companies might face issues as the software was not tailored for them, but was built for a generic set of requirements which most companies would face.

This article discusses how buying off-the-shelf solution compares with creating a solution using no-code development platforms.

Before we go into the pros and cons of these two options, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are the problems that you’re trying to address very unique?

  • Do you have the funds you need to complete this project?

  • Can you afford to take several months to years to solve these problems?


If the answer to these questions is “no,” then you’re better off buying. If the answer is “yes,” then you can look at building.

Building software from ground up

Building (Ground-up Development) software gives you:

  • Customization- Get all the functionality you need to operate in exactly the ways you need it to.

  • Full control- Because you own the solution, you have full control on user options, security measures, and system updates.

  • Competitive edge- Having your own software can better differentiate your business from others.

However, building software has:

  • High upfront costs- You need to shell out a huge amount in CAPEX to build a software.

  • Long development time- Building from ground up requires time to identify and optimize your processes.

  • Talent drought- You’ll need to put together a solid internal team to carry out the job. Outsourcing is an option, but can also push the cost, complexity, and build time higher if not managed well.


Now let’s look at buying software. Buying software, in contrast, gives you:

  • Low/No upfront cost- Pre-built software is typically cheaper to buy and implement, and subscription fees are booked as OPEX.

  • Rapid deployment- Ready-made software is oftentimes plug-and-play.

  • Continuous updates, new features, security, and maintenance. Software companies will take all of these for all subscribers, so you don’t have to worry about it.

However, buying software means:

  • Limited customization- While many pre-built solutions allow some form of configuration or customization, the solution won’t fit your organization like a glove. Also, the need to customize also brings out the same issue as with building from scratch: talent pool availability and cost.

  • Lower control- Although off-the-shelf software takes care of updates, volume capacity, and functionalities, it also means you’re at the mercy of the vendor’s decisions.

  • Compatibility- You’ll have to look out for the software’s compatibility with your existing and future programs, devices, or products.

  • Connectivity- In addition to compatibility, you’ll also have to consider the ability of the software you’re buying to integrate back to the various software that you’re already using.


Given these two approaches can be a tough choice, most companies flip from one to the other. But what if there’s a third choice? One that takes the best out of these two choices?

Enter no-code development. It’s the agile way to create and continuously improve apps at the same pace as today’s dynamic business environment.

Building software thru no-code

No-code development (“no-code”) involves using platforms that lets you build and deploy web and mobile apps without writing a single line code. Instead of building your layout with code, you typically drag and drop components or parts of an application.


No-code is often times confused with ”low-code” where there is minimal coding. Low-code is primarily built for developers or programmers, like a modern rapid application development tool. Meanwhile, no-code is primarily designed for “citizen developers” or business users who may not know, nor do they need to know, any actual programming languages to use the product.


Customization- No-code platforms allow you to create workflows that fit perfectly with your organization. Although some have limitations regarding UI, it shouldn’t matter as much particularly if the apps you’re building will be mostly used internally. Alternatively, these platforms allow you to build the front-end of a custom mobile app for customers (from ground-up or using a template) and utilize APIs from the platform for back-end processing. The level of customization these platforms offer can already provide you with the same competitive edge that building from scratch offers.

Integration- The makers of these platforms understand how critical integration is, and offer various options such as pre-built, single-click integrations, comprehensive API libraries, and even AI bots that let you to connect with legacy systems without APIs.

Lightning-fast deployment- No-code platforms allow you to deploy in as fast as minutes because they provide templates that you can easily setup and configure.

Hosting, maintenance, security, and compatibility- These no-code platforms, as with off-the-shelf software, take care of all these things for you.

Simple and affordable subscription fees- As with buying software, no-code platforms offer pay-as-you-use options with minimal or no upfront costs. Some charge on a per-app or per-workflow basis, some charge on a per-user basis.


Steer – Getting bang for your buck with no-code development options


Of late, there has been a lot of activity in the no-code space. Startups and blue-chip tech giants have been jumping into the no-code bandwagon to promise their customers seamless application delivery without major investments in resources. No-code companies have been, for some time now, getting a lot of attention from the investor community. The trend has been raging that analysts, researchers and pundits have touted the year 2021 as the Year of No-Code.

But with so many options and almost everyone promising you the moon, how do you decide options which are best for you? Our hunch is the core principles of customer centricity while developing digital applications should always be at the forefront.

Service Design and No-Code

Steer Platform uses the core principles of design thinking while allowing citizen developers in your organizations to build applications. The Service Design approach coupled with its No-Code approach allows companies to build applications which could be customized without any hassles.


The no-code approach has distinct benefits which would ensure that you would never consider buying off-the-shelf software applications ever again.

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