Guide

Computer software for business

Types of business software

There are many different types of business software. Deciding which one is best for your business is not always easy and will often depend on:

  • the size of your business
  • the particular needs of your business
  • the tasks that need to be automated

Common types of business software

Common types of software used in business are:

  • word processing programs
  • accounts software
  • billing software
  • payroll software
  • database software
  • asset management software
  • desktop publishing programs

These usually come as bespoke products or off-the-shelf software.

Pros and cons of bespoke software

It is possible to build bespoke software specifically for your business. You can either:

  • Write the software yourself. If you run a small business, writing the software yourself is unlikely to be cost-effective as you need to have significant expertise and lots of time.
  • Have the software written by an external supplier. With specialist help, you should get the exact functionality you need. However, the price is likely to be high, and you will be tied to that supplier for future support.

Producing any bespoke software can take a long time and your staff should be able to input in the development process. For most small businesses, bespoke software may not be the best choice.

Pros and cons of packaged, off-the-shelf software

Packaged software is standardised and generally low priced in comparison to bespoke software. The functionality may not be exactly what you need, but it could make sense to change your business practices to suit the software rather than having software specially written.

The high volume of sales of such software usually means that you will be able to get support and training from a number of different sources.

Standard software packages are usually the best choice for small businesses. In some cases, you can modify the software to meet your requirements if it doesn't include all the functions you need.

Keep in mind that you will typically need a licence to use a commercial software. Read about the different types of software licences for business.