5 min read

Enterprise Software Development vs. Regular Software Development

Enterprise Software Development vs. Regular Software Development

Looking to streamline operations, optimize customer interactions, or transform how your organization works? Understanding the difference between enterprise and regular software development is the first step toward choosing the right solution. While both approaches have their uses, enterprise software is designed with organizations' complex needs in mind. In this guide, we'll unpack these distinctions and help you determine the best path for your project. 

What is Enterprise Software Development?

Enterprise software is a solution developed for the needs of an organization (rather than an individual) to solve a particular business goal. It is designed to meet the demands of a complex organization. Most software is built with various types of users in mind, but enterprise software takes that idea a step further. It often accommodates many different users all at once.

Although the term “enterprise” might call to mind a large corporation, enterprise software can serve a broad range of businesses. Anything from nonprofits and educational institutions to governments, associations, and community organizations can fall under the umbrella of enterprise when it comes to software. But, just because a business uses a particular software, like Microsoft Word, for instance, does not necessarily qualify it as enterprise software. 

What is Consumer Software Development?

Consumer software development involves designing and building a digital tool for individual users. In this approach, the software helps consumers complete tasks or solve problems—anything from finding a date to managing a personal budget, and more. Although standard software might be used for work, it’s designed within the context of personal use, rather than business use.

You can think of regular software development in two categories: systems and applications. Systems software refers to operating systems like Windows or Android. Application software is designed to help users execute specific actions, like sending an email, editing a photo, or building a spreadsheet. In either case, individuals, rather than organizations, are the primary users. 

Regular vs. Enterprise Software Development

Standard and enterprise software development often get confused, but they have a few important differences. If you’re trying to determine which is right for your project, it’s helpful to consider the implications of either approach when it comes to process, type of project, costs, and ideal customers.


In some ways, the difference between the regular software and enterprise development process is quite small. Either path requires thorough scoping, detailed timelines, a dedicated team, design, and development, as well as testing. Enterprise software engineering, however, often requires a few extra steps.

Before developing a custom enterprise solution, it’s important to scan the market for an out-of-the-box alternative. Consider: Why don’t existing software options sufficiently solve this business need? A clear business goal will help shape the features and functionality that set your software apart from others on the market.

Scalability is a key consideration for most enterprise software projects. Consumer-focused software typically has limitations when it comes to users and data storage. Digital tools designed for business, on the other hand, must handle large user bases and growing data volumes. These requirements can translate into a longer planning and development process.

Enterprise software projects tend to take longer and be more complex. Unlike standard software development projects, enterprise software often involves numerous stakeholders and data sources. The enterprise software development process normally starts with deeper analysis to ensure the new product will integrate with all other relevant systems.

Types of Projects

Regular software development often lends itself to a different kind of project than enterprise software development. The former tends to include apps launched on the consumer-facing version of the Apple and Android app stores. These might include task-oriented apps, social apps, entertainment apps, and more.

While there is an enterprise equivalent of the regular Apple app store, apps launched there are only available to a specific set of users, such as employees of a particular company. This distinction speaks to the focused nature of enterprise software projects. Some examples of enterprise software projects include Employee Resource Planning (ERP) software, inventory management systems, and customer service tools.


The cost of a regular software project compared to an enterprise one can vary significantly depending on the scope and features. Generally speaking, however, enterprise software is more costly to develop than consumer-facing software.

Complexity, scalability, and security requirements are important factors to consider when it comes to cost. Enterprise software often must be able to serve hundreds or even thousands of users at once while maintaining the utmost data security. It could house employee, financial, or proprietary information. 

When it comes to software, complexity affects cost, so the more bells and whistles included in the project, the higher the cost will be. This includes things like two-factor authentication, single sign-on, and other features that are often necessities in enterprise software, but not required for most consumer-facing software.

Other requirements, like regulatory compliance, the ability to migrate large amounts of data, and ongoing maintenance, also contribute to the higher cost of enterprise software. For example, financial software is subject to a whole host of legal regulations. Such projects often require specialized expertise that could affect the cost of labor and talent.

Ideal Customers

Regular and enterprise software customers are quite different from one another. While regular software targets normal consumers, enterprise software is made for organizations.

Some regular software can be used for business. For example, a small business owner might use software like Canva to create a pitch deck. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Canva is enterprise software.

Typically, enterprise software is not available direct-to-consumer. Instead, the price and installation of the software are customized to the organization based on factors like its revenue, users, and use case.

Which Is Right for You?

Not sure whether the regular or enterprise software development process is right for you? Consider these questions to determine the right approach and take your next steps toward the right development team.

What problem am I trying to solve?

If you’re addressing a business problem, there’s a good chance you’ll need an enterprise software solution.

Who will use the software?

Typical users of regular software are individuals; whereas, enterprise software users often include many different roles, functions, and departments of a complex organization all at once.

Where and how will the software be used?

Consider the context in which the software will be used. Business applications, like payroll software and customer relationship management (CRM) software, are within the enterprise category.

How will users access the software?

Deployment is a helpful indicator of which type of development approach you’ll need. If you intend to let individual users download the software via something like the Apple App Store, you’re probably looking at a regular software project. Gated access to specific users or companies falls into the category of enterprise software.

Learn more: Is Custom Software Development Right For Your Business?

How to Choose a Development Partner

Once you determine whether to pursue regular or enterprise software engineering, you can narrow down the possible options for a development partner.

Ask Questions

One of the best ways to assess a development partner's suitability for your project is to have an open and honest conversation.

Learn more: 8 Questions to Ask a Potential Development Partner

Specific Experience

While it’s true that there’s a first time for everything, ideally, your app is not it. Seek out a team that has broad and deep development experience with the type of software you need. Being able to clearly articulate what you need will help you determine if a potential firm is the right partner fit. Questions to discuss might include:

  • "Does your solution need to manage sensitive or confidential information?"
  • "Will your software need to interact with existing legacy systems?"
  • "What is your budget and timeline for implementation?"

Positive Reviews

Look for glowing testimonials and five-star reviews. Google reviews and sites like G2 and

Clutch are great places to see what other customers have to say about a development firm.

Strong Project Management

Search for a development firm with an excellent track record of sticking to timelines and budgets. Ask about processes, communication, and overall culture to understand how a particular firm runs projects.

Regular and enterprise software each have their place. With enterprise software, you can boost key metrics and forge new ways of working that set you apart from the competition. Or, use regular software development to make a user’s day with a beautiful, intuitive digital solution meant for individuals. Whatever your goal, finding the right partner is key.

Have an enterprise software idea? We’d love to help. Schedule a free consultation to discuss your project.

You Might Also Like:

Want to learn more?

Subscribe to our newsletter.


Complete Guide to Software Development Outsourcing

Complete Guide to Software Development Outsourcing

Imagine streamlining your inventory process with a custom app, or boosting customer engagement with a loyalty program. Outsourcing software...

Read More
Is Custom Software Development Right For Your Business?

Is Custom Software Development Right For Your Business?

Custom software development is analogous to choosing your wedding outfit. You can buy it off the rack and wear it as it or choose to take the extra...

Read More
4 Best Software Development Methodologies: Which Is Right for You?

4 Best Software Development Methodologies: Which Is Right for You?

For a software development project to be successful, it needs to be effectively managed using the best software development methodology for its...

Read More