Commercial Off-The-Shelf Software (COTS) - Meaning & Definition

Published by MBA Skool Team, Last Updated: May 21, 2013

What is Commercial Off-The-Shelf Software (COTS)?

Commercial off-the-shelf software is readymade software that is available for sale to the general public. The advantage with COTS is that it requires no customization.

It can be used for a large variety of application such as office documentation, medical billing, chemical analysis, statistical analysis etc. It comes with wide range of features and options so as to fit into the demanding needs of versatile customers. It usually comes with a built-in configuration mechanism.

Almost all the software bought by an average computer user  such as operating systems, word processors, email programs, office product suites etc. are COTS in nature. A very good example is Microsoft Office. One of the major advantages of COTS software, which is mass-produced, is its relatively low cost. Other benefits include frequent improvements and software updates by COTS vendors and ease to use. Main disadvantage is the dependence on COTS vendor. If the vendor cannot solve the client problems or rectify system bugs, it can sometimes result in incurrence of huge expense.

This article has been researched & authored by the Business Concepts Team. It has been reviewed & published by the MBA Skool Team. The content on MBA Skool has been created for educational & academic purpose only.

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