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Build vs. Buy: Which Option is Best for Your Business?

Build vs. Buy: Which Option is Best for Your Business?

Perhaps your current software system isn’t hacking it for the needs of your business enterprise, leaving you to fearfully wonder, “Is it time to migrate to a new system altogether?” Everyone has felt the pain of implementing a new software system across their company lines before, but is there anything a business can do to make this integration a bit more seamless? 

There are two options for employing a new software system: building it yourself or buying a third-party software system. And while both options have their own pluses and minuses, the right solution for your business depends on your budget, time constraints, and several other factors. Let’s break both options down into a buy vs. build decision framework so you can better decide which is best for your situation. 

Defining Build vs. Buy

Build vs. buy refers to, as the name suggests, the choice between building software to address the problems your company is facing or buying a pre-existing piece of software from a third party instead. When deciding which is best for your current situation, it’s critical to consider three aspects of your problem.

1. The Problem Itself

Is the problem you’re facing something unique to your business, or are there other current solutions in the marketplace to address your concern? Chances are good that if others are facing the same issue as yours, there are already a handful of solutions out there that provide answers to the problem. 

However, if your problem is more niche and unique to your business, there may not be many quick fixes already in the market, and thus, building a new software may be in your best interest (and provide potential avenues for more profit in the future by providing a solution that no one else has).

2. Your Budget

Building software can be expensive, so knowing your allotted budgetary limits is crucial to understanding if building is even an option for your enterprise. Many businesses find it preferential to pay a smaller monthly fee for pre-built software than to take the risk and hit of building it themselves. 

3. Your Time Constraints

How big of an issue is your current problem? Is it something small that will become inherently worse if it goes unaddressed? And is it worth allocating the time and resources away from other projects to build a solution to the problem? 

If your problem has no solutions in the current marketplace, then you can wait and see if anyone develops something, or you may need to take the risk immediately to provide a solution for it yourself.

Once you’ve carefully weighed the above considerations, you’ll likely be able to visualize which route provides the best solution for your woes. So let’s break down a few more specifics about the pros and cons of building and buying.

When to Consider Building Your Own Software

Building your own software is a vast, resource-extensive, and time-consuming process, so it’s crucial to carefully evaluate whether or not it’s the right choice for your business. Is there a hole in the market for the current software feature you need to build? Do you have a team capable of producing this type of product, and can you allot the necessary resources to make it?

Perhaps there is a software system out there on the marketplace that seeks to solve a similar problem, but you’d have to spend thousands of dollars on retrofitting it to fit your current needs. If that’s the case, then it’s likely that building is in your best interest.

Benefits of Building Software

The benefits of building out your own software include things such as having the ability to exhibit complete control over its operational processes, being able to customize the scope of your project management systems, creating a plan for scalability, and ensuring your software is carefully aligned with your company’s core competencies. 

Learn more about enterprise apps, their benefits, and how to develop one.

Risks of Building Your Own Software

While building your own software allows you a great deal of freedom when it comes to customization options, it’s not without its own set of risks. Cost is the primary risk of building. Unanticipated expenses can increase quicker than expected, if there is scope creep and multiple stakeholders are asking for revisions and additional features to be included. While many established third-party software systems have developed a model that allows them to lower their prices by charging evenly across their client base, you won’t have that luxury. 

Learn more: How to Calculate ROI for Custom Software

Additionally, you’ll likely have to fix bugs and kinks in your new software system. Software is not something that you build once, walk away from, and never touch again. It requires upkeep, maintenance, and bug fixes, which can lead to technical debt if not included in the overall budget. Ensuring that your budget adequately plans for future issues and that your software is built with proper planning and site architecture is key to preventing a technical deficit.

Your project won’t stop at the completion point, and it’s vital to remember this concept. You’ll need a staff devoted to tracking and fixing software problems as they develop. Otherwise, your software won’t be fully functional, making your entire project moot. 

Learn more: 4 Best Software Development Methodologies: Which is Right For Your Project?

Benefits of Buying Software

Most of the time, if there’s software on the market that solves at least 75% of your problems, it will be in your best interest to buy or adapt the software to your needs. Opting to purchase software is especially helpful when dealing with financial, time, or internal constraints. If you don’t have the department or staff necessary to build your own software, buying is likely the best route to choose.

Learn more: 4 Questions You Should Ask When Buying Custom Software

Risks of Buying Third-Party Software

While buying offers data privacy and extreme customization, it can often be lackluster. Thoroughly researching before buying is always advisable as it involves certain inherent risks. Many companies offer demos and trials at the enterprise level. However, implementing these can be difficult, so it’s vital to receive an extensive quote and initial demo before committing to anything. 

Other important considerations to make during the buying process include understanding exactly how your privacy data will be used. Depending on your type of business, the usage of your proprietary data may be of more concern, and giving a third party access to it may lead to increased security risks

Likewise, how any software implements cybersecurity best practices is critical to safeguarding your data. Be sure to ask essential questions about what security measures any third-party software program takes to prevent data leaks or cyber-attacks.

Last but not least, buying software comes with the risks of the whims of the marketplace, meaning that the company you choose to invest in could increase subscription fees, be bought by another company, or go out of business.

Build vs. Buy Decision Matrix

To simplify this concept, below is a matrix of build vs. buy matrix to simplify the decision of which option is best for your situation. 

infographic comparing reasons to build vs. buy software

Final Thoughts

Building vs. buying doesn’t have to be as complex as many online articles make it out to be. When you simplify the matter, it comes down to whether there’s a product on the market that you feel comfortable using or if you have the time, resources, and future infrastructure to build a program of your own to fit your needs. 

If you don’t feel comfortable with buying from a third party, feel dubious about their security measures, or question their long-term market viability, then maybe it’s time to look inward and evaluate if you have the resources to build your own software. 

If you choose to build, always ensure you have a plan for scalability and long-term adaptability— our team here at Designli can ensure that your software is equipped to grow with your long-term goals. When you invest in a software solution, hiring a team like Designli with the experience and knowledge to build something that will give your company the competitive advantage it deserves is critical.

Have questions about what we can do for your business? Schedule a free consultation with us today!

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