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Bespoke versus Off-the-shelf Data Software

Environmental data management’s main functionality and use comes from being able to collect a large amount of data throughout business operations. Data can then be compared with key performance indicators and analysed for improvement. Finding a software that allows a business to fulfill these needs and objectives often comes down to two choices…

  • A bespoke tool created to suit the specific needs of an organisations environmental operations.
  • An ‘off-the-shelf’ tool that is ready made and available to multiple consumers with many functions.

While both options have various benefits and shortfalls this isn’t another post focusing the differences between the two. Instead the focus in on the advances in off-the-shelf software tools and how these are bridging the gap between high-spec bespoke and basic mass-produced software tools used in everyday computing.

In previous blogs the problems with using spreadsheets, a basic off-the-shelf tool for environmental data management, have been discussed (see here).

By comparison, specifically designed high-spec off-the-shelf software tools have continued to advance, addressing some of the typical issues associated with them. This includes their ease-of-use and responding to consumer requirements. Many off-the-shelf tools have reorganised their interfaces to make for easier navigation by de-cluttering the usually large number of environmental functionalities and criteria they provide.

Where bespoke environmental waste tools can be expensive, time consuming and have potential for unstable software design, well developed high-spec off-the-shelf software continues to benefit from engaging with multiple users to develop the best tool; often providing you with new updates from which you could directly benefit, but wouldn’t have thought to include in a bespoke software. While many argue that in using a consumer product you pay for elements you do not need and require, these additional aspects are based on the needs of consumers/competitors in the same market and therefore can be of use despite no initial consideration.

SmartWaste, for example, currently has 4 updates per annum, a designated team working on its continuous improvement and software support for its users. Regular improvement and available support and training means users are provided with a constantly improving and growing tool which they can be easily trained in and supported with. This allows SmartWaste to compete with bespoke tools in terms of functionality, while minimising the often cited issues of complexity by providing telephone support, webinars and informative training on updates and additions.

As proper environmental management is necessary by law, the support and guarantee of an off-the-shelf tool that is not only vetted and approved by multiple users, but can compete with a bespoke tool in performance and functionality, has a clear advantage.