Buy or build software.  Good question!  We recommend “build.”  What's going on with your software products?  With so many out-of-the-box, off-the-shelf SaaS products in the market, some people might call you crazy to build your own software in-house. It is not unusual, however, for businesses to license software from a vendor and then discover it is simply not suitable for their business. Here's a look at why organizations struggle with the “build or buy” software decision, and the path that leads to more successful enterprise software projects.

Buy or Build Software?

The decision of whether to build or to buy your enterprise software is rarely an easy one to answer. Most organizations start with a list of desired features, then use spreadsheets to perform SWOT analyses. In the end, the final decision is made by a committee who collectively agree on what “feels” best. What ends up happening is that most organizations underestimate the complexity of enterprise software products that literally have thousands of features.

The committee, who lacked the time, resources, tools, and methodologies all along to deal with this level of complexity, is blamed for making the wrong choice, and the RFP process starts over again in a few years' time.

Key Insights

Aside from the obvious inefficiency, the biggest problem with this approach is that it assumes each committee team member adequately understood the organization's requirements in the first place and had a thorough understanding of that particular software market. Seldom are these assumptions true? In reality, there are almost always unknown requirements and software products change so frequently, it is an almost impossible task.

Some experts even argue that the only foundation for a successful software evaluation is the actual reverse engineering of each feature. But, if you're like most organizations, you lack the time and expertise to perform a software evaluation with this level of detail. But, the alternative is purchasing off-the-shelf software because it's fast and cheap, then eventually finding out that the lack of customization relative to your day-to-day operations ultimately leads to inefficient, manual processes that you're stuck with for years to come.

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Customize A Solution

With custom business software, you are guaranteed that the software is a strong match for your requirements. That's because, with custom application development, your software is updated, maintained, and improved upon for as long as your business requires it. Unlike off-the-shelf software, you are not competing with other customer demands when it comes to the product's roadmap. And, custom applications can be developed to fit seamlessly into your business's software ecosystem. You are not at the mercy of a 3rd party software solution.  As a result, you may or may not have an integration issue with your CRM/CMS/ERP.

The Bottom Line

Canned software solutions rarely meet every requirement. In general, off-the-shelf software solutions meet “many” needs, but not all. Particularly in the case of enterprise software, custom solutions are far more qualified to satisfy your unique requirements.

Next Steps

Review our case studies and engagements where we helped companies just like yours solve a variety of business needs.

About Oakwood

Since 1981, Oakwood has been helping companies of all sizes, across all industries, solve their business problems.  We bring world-class consultants to architect, design and deploy technology solutions to move your company forward.   Our proven approach guarantees better business outcomes.  With flexible engagement options, your project is delivered on-time and on budget.  11,000 satisfied clients can’t be wrong.