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Commercial Off-the-Shelf Software (COTS): Pros & Cons

March 8, 2024 by
  • Custom Solutions
  • Software Development

Commercial off-the-shelf software (COTS) is a fabulous accessible tool to use. Mostly, it is the first choice for small businesses. The advantages of using off-the-shelf software are countless. But, we need to ask if commercial off-the-shelf software (COTS) fits all businesses.

In this post, Kapsys provides you with a guide about the advantages and disadvantages of software packages. You can compare the packaged software with custom software development to know how it fits small businesses. Firstly, we need to understand what is commercial off-the-shelf software (COTS) and what is custom software development.

What Is COTS?

The next three letters (COTS) are short for ''Off the shelf''. Also, most people know the COTS as software packages, which means off-the-shelf software is commercial package software that you can find on the shelf in stores. No customization exists, so more than one person can benefit from the same product without discrimination. 

The software providers design the commercially produced software aiming to serve small businesses with small budgets in the first place. The commercial off-the-shelf software (COTS) is ready to use without any form of modification by the user and is accessible to everyone. An example of a COTS product is Microsoft Office or Kaspersky antivirus software.

What is Custom Software Development? 

Custom software development is the process of understanding a business need. Accordingly, the developers design and build customized solutions to meet business needs. In addition, you can integrate custom software into the existing operation and with other programs to achieve business growth.  You can modify customized programs to suit a specific audience, dynamics, and business goals. Custom software development companies offer innovative solutions that keep companies alive as businesses are often more complex today. The primary objective of custom software development is in line with the primary purpose of companies in general, which is to generate and increase revenue over time. Also, custom solutions goals include scaling and upgrading programs to reach business goals and objectives. This means that whether it's back-marketing software, a sales team, or a mobile app with which users interact directly, the technology meets the needs of the business and the target audience. 5th-Sept-Commercial-Off-The-Shelf-Software-COTS_-Pros-Cons-2-1.jpg

Advantages of Commercial Off-the-Shelf Software (COTS)

Since commercial off-the-shelf software (COTS) is not for any group of individuals or organizations, the advantages of software packages are multiple, the following are some of the advantages of off-the-shelf software:

  • Easy to get: getting this packaged software is easy and not a complicated process at all.
  • Easy to install: No customization required; installation and operating instructions included.
  • Customer support: COTS typically offers software support to its customers to address and assist users with any issues or questions.
  • Low cost: commercial off-the-shelf software (COTS) is mass-produced compared to dedicated software, so the price is negligible.
  • Free trials: limited or trial versions are one of the main advantages of software packages. Users can try out every aspect of the program and analyze its suitability before committing to a purchase.

Disadvantages of Commercial Off-the-Shelf Software (COTS)

Despite the advantages of using off-the-shelf software, it causes a lot of brings and significant drawbacks. What are the disadvantages of software packages:

  • Cease support: the seller may stop supporting the commercial software, or the developers may stop working.
  • Customization: commercial software development may need to be customized to suit specific business functions, losing the purpose of having something ready. 
  • High cost in the long term: one of the worst disadvantages of software packages is that they may be more expensive in the long run when you have the same commercial software development software for multiple users or use one with a periodic license. Custom software development could be a better choice in the long term.
  • Security risks: off-the-shelf software may contain vulnerabilities that users are not aware of and can be used to target a large number of users of this software. In this case, it will be better to use custom software.


Commercial off-the-shelf software (COTS) serves audiences with similar needs to custom software development audiences. In this article, we defined the custom and cots. In addition, we listed the advantages and disadvantages of software packages. However, sometimes, you want a solution that can handle your business's unique requirements. So, you chose a custom software development company to solve your business issues. Kapsys is a custom solution provider; we can help you improve your business to sore highly in your industry and overwork your competitors.