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Definition

bespoke

Contributor(s): Jim Kennedy, Ben Ochan, and Simon Smith

Bespoke (pronounced bee-SPOHK) is a term used in the United Kingdom and elsewhere for an individually- or custom-made product or service. Traditionally applied to custom-tailored clothing, the term has been extended to information technology, especially for software consulting services. Typically, software consulting companies offer packaged (already invented and generally applicable) software and bespoke software for client needs that can't be satisfied by packaged software. In the U.S., bespoke software is often called custom or custom-designed software.

Bespoke is a form derived from bespeak, which was used as early as 1583 to refer to the ordering of goods.

This was last updated in June 2005

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What's the benefit of ordering bespoke or custom software vs. packaged? Are there particular types of software that this applies to?
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Not really. 
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Bespoke systems have many advantages. They are created exactly to the users needs', with just the useful features in it. They are scalable and you can make integration with other, outside systems used in your company. Furthermore, you can develop it in the future, in accordance to your company growth. Obviously, you need more money at once, compared to off-the-shelf solution, but you become the owner of the solution, not just a user on a licence. If you want to learn more about this topic, read this article: https://kamee-software.com/blog/bespoke-vs-off-the-shelf-software 
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20-30 years ago there was much more demand for bespoke software due to the limited selection of off-the-shelf software. As time has passed and software development has progressed, there is a plethora of software packages and products that will probably satisfy 90% or better of your particular needs. Often it requires using a combination of software tools or products to create a solution that fits your needs relatively well, nevertheless, a solution can be derived from a combination of packaged software.
Due to this increase of available software solutions, and the fact that the cost of developing custom software is typically substantially higher than developing custom software, the need for custom or bespoke software has declined. 
There are however, exceptions to this rule of thumb. Developing bespoke software makes sense when the benefits of the custom solution outweigh the increased cost. Sometimes that missing 10% of what a packaged software doesn't deliver, makes all the difference in the world to the desired outcome. 
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