17 Feb

Pre-Packaged or Custom Data Collection Solutions: How to Know which is Right for You

In today’s world, people are always looking to save a dollar. This is especially true when it comes to running a business. All money-saving options are given a second, third, and possibly fiftieth look. But, that doesn’t mean that the least expensive choice is always the right choice.

Sometimes, saving now costs you more later.

This is certainly the case when it comes to choosing a data collection solution for your business. A data collection solution is purpose-built software that helps streamline processes and create a uniform standard to enhance productivity.

Although there are numerous programs out there for you to choose from, the solutions can be categorized into two high-level options: pre-packaged and custom. In many cases, people go for the appeal of the pre-packaged solution because it’s cheaper, ready to go “right out of the box,” and immediately covers 70-80 percent of a business’ process. For some lucky organizations, it happens to cover their entire process and they have nothing to worry about.

But, that’s not always the case. For everyone else, that 20-30 percent of their process that is uncovered ends up costing more when they need to buy additional programs to plug the gaps, or write code or API integrations to customize it. That is why it is important to go into any purchase with eyes wide open, asking yourself if you are considering pre-packaged because it is better, or because it is cheaper—and understanding what “cheaper” may mean to your business processes in the long run.

So how do you know which one is right for your business? First, evaluate the pros and cons:

Pre-packaged data collection solutions


  • Costs less up-front
  • Quicker to implement


  • Your employee labor costs, which compromise the biggest part of your operating expenses, often cannot be calculated by a pre-packaged solution
  • You may need to buy other software to fill gaps, costing more in the long run
  • You may be forced to modify your processes to fit the software, whereas with custom solutions you modify the software to fit your process

Custom data collection solutions


  • Collaboration between you and the developer brings a complete understanding of your specific manufacturing process and identifies key pain points
  • Programs are tailored to your exact business model to increase efficiency
  • You save more money in the long run since your solution has everything that you need and does not require the purchase of supplemental programs


  • Takes longer to implement than a pre-packaged solution (generally 4-6 weeks)
  • Costs more up-front

Once the pros and cons have been evaluated, it’s time to take the next steps:

  1. Lay out the business objectives that you wish to achieve.
  2. Determine if you need to make any changes to your process to accomplish these objectives.
  3. Look at how your company functions when there is growth. Does your manufacturing process always stay the same, or is it more dynamic?
  4. Decide what features your software must have to fully function within your company.
  5. Work with your information technology (IT) department to study the different software available.
  6. Ask yourself what is the return on investment (ROI) that you would want to get from a new software.
  7. Look at the pre-packaged solution with IT. If it works best for you, use it. If it does not, start looking at a customized solution.
  8. Present your case to the major decision makers in your business to secure a budget.
  9. Contact the SMS Group.

Selecting the best option for your business can be stressful. Even after you have made the decision, starting everything up can be just as nerve-racking. With almost 30 years’ experience, The SMS Group can help set you and your business up for success.  Get in touch.

Share this