COTS vs No-code
Quixy Editorial Team
August 11, 2023
Reading Time: 8 minutes

John opens his laptop and logs in for the day. As per the discussion with his team on the previous day, he needs software to manage tasks and keep track of all his vendors and suppliers for their upcoming projects. 

As if reminiscing a terrible memory, he thinks about his buggy and constantly troubling COTS software sitting idle in his office computer as he starts dragging and dropping some boxes here and there. 

20 minutes later, he messages his team, saying, ”Hello team, let’s start work; our app is ready to go. As usual, no code has got our back” 

Okay, what just happened? 

‘Tis the season to be jolly, and get rid of software that is causing hassle. Recent years has caused us enough inconvenience, and with WFH and businesses being wrecked, it’s probably best not to take on more troubles- especially software and IT hassles that come uninvited with COTS software. 

What is COTS software? Why is it inconvenient? 

Commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) software is a term for software applications and products that are readymade and available for purchase in the commercial market.  Since it is readymade, it is like a “one-size-fits-all” software that honestly cannot meet every possible customer’s needs perfectly unless customized, but most COTS software provides limited customization options.

Businesses, getting majorly impacted due to the pandemic, cannot afford to restrict and stay rigid in the way they operate or the way teams function. 

Sure, few COTS vendors may offer customization beyond what is available in the product as a paid service but at a hefty cost. The hefty sum is paid, too, by businesses because the customization is required as the application doesn’t always meet the customer’s needs as-is.

With people working from home, IT is constantly burdened, and software developers are in shortage. Also, with rampant digital disruption, COTS software is a risky proposition since organizations can’t afford to restrict their operational capabilities because of what the COTS software provides. In addition, COTS customization demands time, which honestly, no business can afford to waste. 

Basically, just like John, many teams and employees are tired of COTS software hassles.

We have a solution for this!

No-code apps 

No-code app development will save you from all the hassles you’ve faced until now! And you don’t even have to be into tech or know how to code! 

No-code development is exactly how it sounds – app development without the need for a single line of code. You don’t need to have an IT or programming background to develop an app using a no-code platform. It is a visual development tool that helps you build something from scratch through selections, drag & drop, imports, and other equally simple functions.

Also read: Everything you should know about No-Code Development

That’s what John did- he developed his own application for his team within 15-20 minutes because he didn’t have to sit and code! 

With no code, users don’t need prior coding knowledge to create apps. You can easily create apps within minutes and hours to automate and manage all your repetitive processes. This is why you must use no-code instead of COTS. It automates and optimizes IT processes with a breeze.

According to a report, “98% of workers expressed the desire to work remotely, at least part of the time.”

According to report, “98% of workers expressed the desire to work remotely, at least part of the time.”

In times when the demand for software far exceeds the supply of coders, no-code apps are a boon. An increasing number of organizations are getting rid of COTS software because of the challenges that come with it.

The no-code movement has grown amazingly and exponentially during the pandemic. Currently, platforms and tools allow you to build pretty much everything you want. 

traditional coding vs low-code vs no-code

No-code vs COTS software: Endgame 

This battle may not be as epic as the ones we see in Endgame, but it is equally interesting! Let’s take a closer look.

IT Clutter

One cots for each business case, e.g., CRM, Help Desk, Accounting Software, Expense Management, etc., can create software clutter leading to maintenance issues and data redundancy.

A no-code software platform, when deployed for general-purpose automation, can be used to automate processes and build applications for all departments in the company on a common platform eliminating the possibility of any software clutter and data redundancy issues.


COTS products offer limited customization options. Any customization beyond what is available in the product has to be done by the vendor himself. The business users or the central IT team cannot help. Even where IT is authorized to customize the COTS product, professional developers are required for such efforts.

No-code, on the other hand, requires no special skills or even basic programming knowledge to build software. Anyone from any department or user can develop and customize apps.

Edits and upgrades are also easier with no-code app development. COTS apps require the involvement of programmers for customization beyond what is available in the product. 

With a no-code platform, team members can simply log in and begin developing their own business software application using a “drag and drop” interface. And voila! The developer is the end-user and is no longer separated from development but instead plays a vital role in its actualization. 

No-Code vs COTS-Infographic


Typically any COTS software can be configured and deployed for use in a very short time. 

No-code apps can also be developed and deployed in a few minutes to a few days based on what is being built. A lot of no-code software platforms provide ready-to-use building blocks that can be used to quickly build and deploy software. Delays and debugging are no longer points of concern either. It all happens quickly.


Since COTS software development requires weeks and months of development effort from experienced professional developers, the costs involved are very high. They either come for a fixed price with an annual maintenance cost or may be offered as a SaaS subscription paid on a monthly or annual basis.

No-code platforms, on the other hand, are available at most lower cost compared to COTS software.  These are typically offered as SaaS subscriptions paid on a monthly or annual basis, where the same subscription can be used to solve multiple business problems and build multiple solutions.


One of the heaviest disadvantages of COTS software is its restrictions on agility. They offer limited customization options. Any customization beyond what is available in the product is either not possible or has to be done by the vendor himself. This can sour customer experience and cause frustration. 

No-code apps are highly agile, allowing instant changes without interfering with the experience. In fact, they improve it by allowing the addition of features as per need and feedback.


There are COTS software available in the market that address complex business problems. However, the limited customization options they provide remain a big challenge.

On the other hand, No-code has been riddled with myths in this case. Many users believe that no-code development is only good for simple apps. The truth is that there are multiple advanced no-code platforms that let you build simple to complex enterprise-grade apps as well. However, restrictive no-code platforms may have limited capability in this area. So you must watch out during your evaluation.


Most popular COTS software provides integration options, but these may be limited. No-code platforms provide Integration capability through the use of API or ready-to-use plugins and adapters. 

But as a customer, you must validate the integration capability before you make a choice.



No-code software platforms provide building blocks for users to innovate and build what they want to solve their unique challenges. They also free up time and provide flexibility to think and implement simultaneously.

COTS software, on the other hand, does not provide room for much innovation as it cannot be customized by the business users themselves.


Another major plus point of no-code development is its reusability in the organization and pre-configured modules and functionality for apps. These modules usually have all the basic and core functions needed for several apps, and they can be reused for multiple different solutions quickly and adapt easily. 

This is usually not possible when using COTS software.

Does not create IT Clutter/Silos
CustomizationLimited Capability
Time to deploy
Ability to handle complex functionalityAdvanced No-Code✅
Typical No-Code ❌
Ease of adoption

With no-code everyone’s a developer, everyone’s a maker, everyone’s innovator.

Benefits of No-code, answer to your COTS hassles

No-code benefits

1. Automated & custom workflows

Workflow automating and modeling is not just fast; it’s much more seamless, unlike COTS software. It lets you manage all your data seamlessly without ever indulging in the language of code.

Say bye to spreadsheets and repetitive manual tasks by creating custom apps for team use.

For example, John’s task management app can record data in real-time that can be accessed from any device, create tasks for him and his teams, and customize them to be repeatable or ad hoc.

2. Anyone can build no-code apps

That’s the beauty of them! You won’t have to wait for IT departments to customize your COTS software, and you don’t need technical experience or knowledge about code. Anyone (or, as we like calling them, citizen developers) can build functional applications within minutes and hours!

Also read: 5 Reasons to Encourage Citizen Development at Work

3. Enhanced innovation

You won’t have to let go of ideas and will have the power to create your own apps as you aspire to and like. This encourages everyone to get their creative juices flowing, making workplace innovation a part of your company’s culture.

4. Exceptional agility

With no-code apps, change is adaptable and profitable, especially in these changing times. According to a McKinsey Study, agile organizations tend to be healthier, more profitable, and more innovative. 

No-code apps check this box by automating everything from building to testing. Thus, the teams have more time to get the work done instead of wasting it preparing for work.

According to a McKinsey Study, agile organizations tend to be healthier, more profitable, and innovative. 

5. Reduced time

No-code development eases the burden on IT and builds apps in lesser time than other software. One can build, design, and deploy no-code apps within minutes and hours!

Also read: Top 10 Benefits of No-Code App Development

Quixy – For a ‘COTS-free’ zone 

As WFH becomes the new normal, companies are integrating no-code, low-code development into their application development lifecycle. No-code is going to gradually become a natural and obvious part of the software ecosystem while increasing efficiency, helping find solutions more easily, and facilitating collaboration. 

Quixy is a leading no-code app development platform that will help you through hassle-free digital transformation and leverage it without burdening your pockets, your teams, or your IT department. With Quixy, you get the flexibility to build great solutions with ease!

Regardless of your business, Quixy can help you automate your processes 10X faster. It is also remarkably easy to use. Begin your journey towards streamlined operations and tailored apps – all with the simplicity of our platform. Get started today to harness the potential of automation. 

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

High-Code vs. Low-Code vs. No-Code vs. COTS

Choosing between high-code, low-code, no-code, and Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) solutions depends on your project requirements and the level of customization you need. Each approach has its strengths, catering to different users with varying technical skills.

What is the difference between COTS and low-code?

COTS (Commercial Off-The-Shelf) refers to pre-built, ready-to-use software, while low-code involves platforms that enable application development with minimal hand-coding. The difference lies in customization – COTS is typically less customizable than low-code solutions.

What are COTS and non COTS?

COTS includes commercially available, pre-built software products, while non-COTS refers to solutions that are custom-developed for specific organizational needs. COTS is more standardized, while non-COTS allows for tailored solutions.

What is the difference between COTS and platform?

COTS is a ready-made software product, while a platform, like a low-code platform, provides a foundation and tools for building custom applications. COTS is a complete product, while a platform offers flexibility for creating tailored solutions.

What COTS stand for?

COTS stands for Commercial Off-The-Shelf. It refers to software or hardware products that are ready-made and available for purchase, requiring minimal customization. COTS solutions are typically designed for widespread use across different organizations.

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