We get a number of inquiries about Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) software. The reasons vary: some want to know if we can modernize the COTS software they are using, and the answer to that is “Yes”. Some want to know if we can modernize their existing software, saving them from the expense and disruption of buying and installing a COTS software package – and the answer to that also is “Yes”.

Some organizations who have old software believe that their only alternative is to buy a COTS package. And many advisors advocate doing exactly that, because our industry has a poor track record when it comes to rewriting software, or writing new software from scratch. The internet and trade journals are full of stories about software project schedule and cost overruns. And in most of those stories, the vendor blames the customer for changing the requirements or some other fault.

We can avoid those problems for you. We can give you a new system, fixed price, according to a schedule that we will meet. If you are running an older COTS package, we can give you the same functionality without ever needing to work with the source code to the old package.

COTS package implementations have their problems, too. The software never does exactly what you want “out of the box”; any major software COTS package needs customization and programming to make it work in your business. And your workers have to adapt to the new system, which probably will have rules and restrictions that are different from how your business currently operates. A DMV customer service representative takes 6-9 months to become truly productive, for example; what do you think will happen when you give them an unfamiliar system that works differently from what they are used to?

If you take 5 years of COTS software package license cost for comparison, we can save you money. Sometimes, we are less expensive than 2-3 years of licensing cost. And always, if you take the full cost of the COTS solution, including the hardware and training and customization and business impact, we can almost always save you money.

Why not have a new system, maintainable, easily modified, that you own completely and that works just the way your workers are used to?