To build or to buy? This is the question that most CIOs must answer when it comes to acquiring new software tools for the company.
On the one hand, you have the option of building a tool that’s customized for the specific needs of your company and is unique on the market (which could mean a competitive advantage). On the other hand, you have a wide array of tools ready for use that solve most of your problems and can even support further customization.
So, how do you know which option to choose?
In this article, we will have a look at both options and describe the most common pros and cons. This way, when the time comes, it will be easier to make your decision.
When You Should Buy
Supposing your IT department is well-equipped and can handle internal software development and long-term support (otherwise, there is no debate), you should consider buying if:
- You are short on time and need the software tool as soon as possible
- Your budget cannot afford such a big investment as it would be necessary for software development
- You need to integrate the software tool with other platforms (already existing)
- Your problems and needs can be fulfilled by an existing software solution
The Pros of buying software are clear-cut as an off-the-shelf solution is ready when you need it and offers greater flexibility and adaptability. It’s also more affordable than an in-house product and it has already gone through several thorough testing phases before it reached the market (plus the customers’ feedback). Additionally, as a paying customer, you get access to expert support and may even be offered training and guidance by the producer.
For instance, when it comes to online marketing, the benefits of advertising analytics tools developed by a dedicated software company outweigh the benefits of an in-house software product.
On the other side, you do not have full control over the functionalities available in the interface (or the interface itself). Moreover, you depend on the vendor’s support as you don’t have access to the source code.
When You Should Build
- You need a highly specific software tool that responds to your unique needs
- You only need a specific feature and don’t want to buy an entire software product for it
- Your IT department is strong, reliable, and skilled in developing customized solutions
- You have easy access to maintenance and support
In a world that focuses more on the customer experience, a highly customized software tool, over which your company has full control, may be the right answer to boost sales and awareness. And, since you have all the control, the solution can be scaled and adjusted in case your needs change. Moreover, such a solution may help you get ahead of competitors since it may give you a unique perspective on the market.
On the downside, developing your own app or software solution takes a lot of time and requires quite an investment. Your company also needs to have an IT department that can handle support and maintenance for the in-house software tools. You will also have to provide the training for new users who will be handling the tools, write the documentation, and work to integrate it with other platforms.
There are a lot of hurdles to overcome before you can call your business successful, but it’s important to take all your decisions with productivity and success in mind. Therefore, when it comes to the buy or build debate, in most cases, it’s best to buy. True, if you have the manpower and you need a highly specific design, then it is best to build, but these cases are quite rare and far in between.