Custom-Built or SaaS - Which is right for you?

January 23, 2020 - by Ascora Team

Choosing between Custom-Built Software or a SaaS Subscription

When trying to implement the right job management software to run your business, a common decision is whether to try finding existing software that will meet your business requirements (or close enough to them) or whether to build custom software specifically designed to your business.  This is a critical design to make wisely otherwise the impact to your business can be significant both in terms of lost time and financial costs.  The team at Ascora have created custom software for over a decade now (in addition to creating Ascora) so we’re experts in both options.  In this article we’ll list out a few of the key differences that can help you determine if custom software is right for you or if you’re better evaluating an existing purpose-built software package, such as Ascora.


Custom Built Software

Custom software refers to the creation of specialist software aimed at capturing your exact business process and the needs of your business.  In this process you would work with a software development company or attempt to hire someone internally to clearly determine your requirements, produce detailed designs to articulate those requirements and then create and rollout the software.

1. Best Fit – Like a tailored suit, this software will fit your exact requirements and contain nothing you don’t want.  You can control the process down to the finer details – including fonts and background colours.  However it is important to note that the capabilities of the system may be limited to your budget.

2. Control – You can make additional adjustments to your software based on weaknesses or opportunities you identify in your business.  At any time you can adjust the direction of the system and the features as you would like.

 3. No license fee – With custom developed software there are no pre-user license costs.  It doesn’t matter if you have 1 or 100 users, the development costs are the same.


1. Time to build - Just like building a house, the time to design, build, test and then roll out will generally range from a few months to a year.  During this time you will have to continue using your current systems.

2. Cost – Just like anything customised it is very expensive.  Months of development effort equates to months of chargeable labour and custom software systems can range from $30,000 to over $100,000 depending upon your requirements.  Don’t forget also that building for various platforms – for example web, Android or iOS – are also all additional charges.

3. Ongoing Costs – Even with custom systems you will still have a number of ongoing costs for which you will have to cover 100% (rather than being shared if you were using a purpose-built software package).  You will have to pay for your own hosting for web-based systems.  Additionally for mobile-based systems you will also need to factor in changes and costs every year as new versions of the phone operating system are rolled out.  For example every new release of iOS may potentially break your app and you would need to test and update to ensure your apps keeps on running. 

4. Costs for Every Feature – Each time you want to add a feature or make a change to your software some cost will be incurred due to the associated development effort. 

5. No Included Support – Generally once your custom software is completed and you’re up and running you would then need to pay for any ongoing support.  This can be on an hourly as needed basis or a locked in cost per month depending upon your developers.

 7. Loss of Direction – Custom built software relies entirely on your clarity of vision.  If you can’t clearly see what you will need or envisage the types of features that will take your business to the next level, then you won’t be able to convey this to your developers.  This will then result in a final product that won’t be exactly what you were after.


Purpose built software such as Ascora

Purpose built software refers software that is built for a particular niche or industry such as tradies. Ascora for example is designed and built for trades and services-based businesses.  These software packages go through many years of research and development and many hours of consultation with different groups in the industry.  This enables the software to meet the needs of a particular audience and also benefit from the collective knowledge which has shaped the product.

1. Close Requirements Match – While subscription software will never meet 100% of your requirements (and it would be a very unrealistic expectation, it does very close meet your requirements.  In many cases it can be a closer match that custom-built software if you do not have sufficient budget to implement all items on your wish list.

2. Low Ongoing Costs – You will have a very low ongoing monthly subscription cost.  Each month you’ll have an easily forecasted cost so you’re never caught off-guard.  You will only pay a fraction of the cost of the development performed to build the software system.

3. No Delays - The software is ready for use now after a short implementation time.

4. No hosting fees – All of the costs of hosting, server upgrades etc. are all included in your monthly subscription.

5. Free Updates – Once a new feature has been implemented in the system you will automatically get access to this new feature at no additional cost.

6. Free Support – Generally all software subscription services will include free break-fix support. Unlike a lot of system out there, Ascora provides support via phone, email and live chat, so you can discuss your queries with a real person!

7. More Features - Good job management software will normally have a wide range of features and functionality – including many that you may not have considered or thought possible. With a software subscription you can benefit from all of the research and design completed in collaboration with the user community.  At Ascora we’ve worked with a whole range of businesses to add the most requested features into our platform!

1. Requirements Gap  - Subscription software may not meet 100% of your requirements even though normally it’s very close.

2. Monthly subscription fee – You will always have an ongoing subscription cost.  Generally most software these days is sold on a Software as a Service (SaaS) basis which means you’ll pay an ongoing monthly/yearly subscription.  This subscription fee is also usually tied to the number of users in the system.



Based on the above analysis, it’s very clear that a software subscription is the winner. In every niche or vertical there will exist purpose-built software that you can adopt quickly and easily.  At Ascora we’ve invested thousands of hours in creating a platform for trades and services based businesses, such as electricians, plumbers, HVAC, constructions, tilers, gardeners, scaffolding etc. to act as the operations platform taking your business to the next level.

For a monthly fee starting from $19 per month per user you can start running with Ascora, as opposed to hundreds of thousands of dollars to build a customised software system, and the time and effort spent in designing, testing and rolling out the “perfect” custom software.  Additionally you’ll save the months or even years of time and minimise the risk to your business if the custom software project fails to meet your requirements on completion or if your initial design didn’t match what you needed at the end of the day.

With the right purpose built software, such as Ascora, businesses can give themselves a competitive advantage by quickly and easily implementing a job management and business operations platform that can take your business to the next level now. If you or you know someone who is looking for a job management to help streamline their business, please do not hesitate to be in touch with one of our friendly Ascora team members.