Custom vs off-the-shelf software products? Our response to the dilemma


Paweł Małkowiak



Custom vs off-the-shelf software products? Our response to the dilemma

There are many classifications on which one may categorize software products and services. From a whole plethora of different aspects, one that seems to be worthy of consideration in the e-Mobility software world is certainly the one taking on how a product is acquired.

Charge Point Operators and e-Mobility Service Providers will eventually face the task of choosing appropriate software to run their charging networks (unless they have their own dev team ready to build it from scratch - a fairly rare occurrence).

With a careful selection of the most suitable IT solution, one of the core questions to answer is whether to come down in favor of an off-the-shelf product or to get it customarily developed.

Custom vs ready-made: general breakthrough

Generally speaking, both have a multitude of advantages, much like some drawbacks. It’s crucial to understand what both of the options bring to the table.

When it comes to off-the-shelf software products, the first thing that comes into play for many companies may be how long it will take before their investment can yield a return and generate profits. As an old saying goes ‘time is money’ and thus, those who care about rather fast implementation and launch, would certainly lean towards ready-made solutions.

Being already on the market and broadly-available, makes the aforementioned option a cheaper one as it does not require hiring a team of devs and putting them to work for what might be a few months. Those who are on tight budgets or simply not willing to spend too much, will certainly look favorably to getting ready products.

Finally, there’s less risk of failure. Off-the-shelf products usually had their fair share of being tested inside out by many. This allowed their developers and manufacturers to implement necessary ameliorations and adjustments.

However it’s not all fun and games… There are some major obstacles in terms of read-made solutions. Missing crucial features is one of them. Broadly-available software products tend to be created in such a way as to suit the basic requirements of many different, potential customers. Unfortunately, there's no one-size fits all solution when it comes to IT. With such an approach, some of the more specific features can be omitted, leaving some gaps in fulfilling all the needs of a certain company - this is where custom development still comes in place even with off-the-shelf software.

In terms of custom development, one gains the assurance of getting all the necessary functionalities. There is also guarantee of no need in paying for features which are of no use. Custom development is the best solution if one needs only one or two particular features of an enterprise package, but there are no corresponding ready-made products on the market.

It also allows one to choose the best programming language and be able to work with new technologies while, in some cases, ready-made software is limited to a pre-set list of technologies.

With custom development the product can be adjusted to meet all the latest requirements and security standards which sometimes aren't included in ready-made software products. In addition, some old versions of ready-made software may lose market leadership or be left without support from software vendors.

What’s best for eMobility?

There isn’t one definite answer here. Again, it all boils down to a well-thought-out choosing of what suits particular needs best. The more CPOs and EMPs are out there, the more different requirements and desires can arise.

Having said that, it must be underlined that eMobility operates as a part of a bigger ecosystem and stays interconnected with other branches, which may lead to eventual tie-ins. For example: the possibility to charge an EV can become an add-on function for a smart-home app, CPO platform may require rearranging tariffs management system or invoicing flow, etc.

The industry is known to evolve quickly. Rapid pace reinforces building innovation on top of 'must-have' functionalities. With Open Standards regularly upgrading to new versions, incoming CPOs and EMPs integrating with charging networks or ever-growing EVSE, one must stay on top of the software game in order to stay afloat in the business. Here’s where custom development may significantly help - but that doesn’t mean it’s the only good option out there.

Once again, it’s all in the careful choosing.

Custom vs off-the-shelf? Solidstudio’s bold response - the best of both worlds.

After years of gaining expertise of developing custom eMobility software, the decision of building our own products came in rather organically. Knowing all the industry nuances and having a chance to talk to numerous EMPs and CPOs, including the small ones and the biggest players in the field, we got a good grasp on what’s really going on in the EV business world.

This is where the idea of developing customizable product backbones.

With some great efforts, our eMobility experts have managed to deliver a white-label EMSP app (that comes with supporting web application) and CPO platform, both fully customizable to suit specific needs. They’re designed in the form of a solid software backbone, and thus can pose as a product core on which every client can then build (with our continuous support) a product that matches their individual requirements.

Such a solution allows our customers to easily navigate through their needs and wants, depending on what is necessary. Whether they’re looking for a complete app, a ready app that still needs to be adjusted with specific functionalities, or a custom development from scratch, we’re well positioned to deliver whatever is needed in a form that suits the clients’ best interests. The broad range of amenities has been extended even to the settlement - as the products can be sold either on proprietary licensing (one-time fee) or as a flexible SaaS plan.

With hands-on experience, eMobility dev experts, many successfully finished projects and constantly staying up-to-date with the latest news, we are ready to take on any eMobility-related challenge and guide our clients through the best solutions, even when they’re not entirely sure what would work best for them.