“Proprietary vs. Off-the-Shelf … when do you customize (software/hardware) vs. buy the product everyone else uses?”
When evaluating if your organization should use proprietary vs. off-the-shelf, it’s important to gather all of your solution requirements and then evaluate the marketplace to determine if there is an existing solution that exists to meet those needs. There could be either slight or significant upfront cost savings if your needs are not purely unique to your organization and an existing product can solve the problem off the shelf – why reinvent the wheel, right? If you are unable to find a solution that meets all of your needs, evaluate if you can give/take on requirements and then, if none can give, venture down the road of customization to meet your specific business needs. Customization will sometimes lead to increased operating and support cost if you modify an existing product too much from the core product or build something internally from the ground up. Either way, your organization needs to have a working product that shouldn’t hinder your business’ goals… but can achieve your goals!