Build vs. Buy

In today’s technology-driven world, there’s an ongoing debate taking place in every organization, big and small. When a business need arises that could be solved using technology, management must decide whether to build it themselves using internal resources or to purchase the technology from a third-party solution provider.  It’s the classic build vs. buy decision.

There’s a lot that goes into this decision, more than simply having a large IT staff or having enough budget. Companies must decide how big the need is, who it’s impacting and what’s required on the back-end to support a new application. These are just a few of the factors that must be considered when making the complex build vs. buy decision.

I’m here to tell you why waiting for IT isn’t always the best decision.

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Of course, customization is a key benefit to building a solution in-house — it can be tailored to meet your specific needs and the needs of the organization as a whole.

But what about the work required on the back-end to make this all happen? Countless hours and resources are spent on projects, oftentimes with unreasonable and impossible deadlines. This results in prolonged implementation times and ultimately lost opportunities. Not to mention the lack of scalability in terms of ongoing updates and improvements. The truth of the matter is that internal tools can become outdated rather quickly, costing your team even more time and resources down the road.

Investing in a solution that’s built outside of your organization offers many key benefits:

1. Speed to value:  SaaS solutions are often ready to go out-of-the-box, requiring minimal (if any) customization on the business-user end. This means fast deployment and immediate results. When the application in question is expected to drive real business value like higher sales or cost savings, time is truly money.  Waiting for a promised internal build may mean months – if not years – of lost opportunity which you will never recover.

2. Best of breed:  When buying a third party solution, you benefit from the significant investment poured into the development of the platform, including functionality, performance, and scalability. A solution provider has the benefit of developing and tweaking its solution based on requirements and feedback from many stakeholders. This results in a more flexible and robust platform. Your company may think its needs are well defined today, but these needs will inevitably change as your business moves forward.

If the decision is made to go in-house for a solution, every time your needs change, your company will be at the exact same decision point. And with every decision point, it becomes increasingly likely that the priorities internally will have shifted and internal resources are no longer available for the upgrade. The result? The internal solution will fall further and further behind the ‘state of the art’ that is available outside the four walls of the company, thereby putting your business at a growing competitive disadvantage.

3. Ongoing support:  Building a solution is one thing.  But quite often the internal option gets support because of the ‘excitement’ of building a shiny new toy.  It’s understandable.

But once the initial excitement has dissipated and the reality of training and supporting the business users week in and week out sets in, that new car smell starts to wear off. Particularly when the next opportunity to build a shiny new toy comes about.

Most SaaS providers have adopted a model of wall-to-wall support for training and engagement, ensuring that business users derive maximum value from the solution, not just at launch, but throughout the lifetime of the contract.

When it comes to empowering an organization with technology, each business must examine its own capabilities before looking at outside solutions. Be sure to do your research. The investment you make with a third party who specializes in the solution area you’re looking at might end up saving you a lot of money, and deliver much more value in the long run.