Which CAMA Software Option Is Best for You?

Are you doing too much manual work outside your CAMA software? Finding your CAMA software doesn't work with intra- or inter-departmental systems? Dealing with CAMA software that limits or precludes your access to industry-leading appraisal tools?

I wrote in a recent blog about these (and other) reasons you might be at a turning point with your CAMA software. If you do find yourself seriously considering replacing your CAMA software, you should be aware that there are three distinct options to consider. With more than 20 years of industry experience and customer interaction behind me, I'd like to share the most significant pros and cons of each.

Option #1: Off-the-Shelf CAMA

Most CAMA vendors offer off-the-shelf solutions that are designed to support different organizations, jurisdictions, and states with a common set of software capabilities and features.


  • Lower costs and risks: You can avoid most of the costs and risks of product modifications and third-party system integrations since both are often prohibited or limited with this option.
  • Faster delivery: You can usually get off-the-shelf CAMA delivered more quickly, since vendors offer few (if any) changes to their standard product.
  • Widely available information and assistance: You can get information from current users before you decide to go this route — and help from them afterwards when you are using the software.


  • Limited ability to meet your specific business needs: Designed to support the greatest number and widest variety of organizations, jurisdictions, and states possible, off-the-shelf solutions may not meet your unique business needs.
  • May not work with your third-party products and systems: With limitations on modifications and integrations, you may be forced to sacrifice integration with intra- or inter-departmental systems and forgo access to best-in-class tools that can significantly improve your organization's efficiency.
  • Dependence on vendor: With no control over software updates or modifications and no ownership of the solution, you will be entirely dependent on the vendor, who may not be interested in changing their solution to meet your changing needs.

Option #2: Built-from-Scratch CAMA

Few CAMA vendors are willing to build from scratch, so this approach typically requires working with a software development company, instead, to design and develop a CAMA solution based on your organization's specific business requirements.


  • Ability to meet your specific business needs: Designed around your organization's business flows and processes, built-from-scratch solutions can meet your every need.
  • Independence from your vendor: When you pay to have a system designed and built, you own it — which means you can modify it when and how you want to meet your changing needs. And you can choose whether your software service provider, in-house IT resources, or another service provider will support those changes.


  • Significant investment: Built-from-scratch is an expensive proposition, starting as it does with a new design effort — and without reusing any existing software code.
  • Slower delivery: Design, development, and testing are all essential when building from the ground up. The process takes time, making this approach anything but a quick fix.
  • Higher risk: You may assume you know what you're getting, but you may not actually know how it will work in practice until it's in place, which can expose your operations to additional risk as you implement an unproven solution.

Option #3: Tailor-Fit CAMA

While few CAMA vendors or software development companies are willing or able to provide a tailor-fit CAMA solution, this option does exist, offering a comprehensive and proven set of completely customizable CAMA software modules.


  • Ability to meet your specific business needs: As with built-from-scratch CAMA, you can customize the software to reflect your organization’s needs, ideas, and goals.
  • Reliability and performance: Tailor-fit CAMA combines the reliability of off-the-shelf options with the higher performance potential of built-from-scratch options.
  • Smaller investment, faster delivery, and fewer risks: Starting with tested and proven software modules, tailor-fit CAMA comes with a smaller price tag, faster delivery, and lower risk than built-from-scratch CAMA.
  • Independence from your vendor: As with built-from-scratch CAMA, you own your custom-fit CAMA, which means you can modify it to keep up with your organization's growth and hire who you want to support it.
  • Widely available information and assistance: As with off-the-shelf CAMA, you can consult with existing users when you have questions or concerns.


  • Potentially larger investment and longer delivery time: Compared to off-the-shelf CAMA, tailor-fit CAMA can take somewhat longer and cost somewhat more, but it sometimes doesn't.

What’s Best for You?

Each option for replacing your CAMA solution comes with potential upsides and downsides. What's best for your organization depends on many factors, including your business needs, desire for control, risk tolerance, time frame, and budget. Given the inherent difficulties in any software transition, it's worth thinking carefully and critically about which option to pursue.

If you're not sure where your organization stands or you want some help working through this consequential decision, reach out to me here. Farragut wants to help your organization reach its full potential.

Jeff McDonald
Vice President, Local Gov Solutions

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