Should You Build Or Buy Enterprise Software?

By Tom Farrell

TeroVesalainen / Pixabay

It’s a question most large businesses, or at least those who are ‘lucky’ enough to have large IT teams, have struggled with. Should we resolve a particular technical requirement with a commercial, off-the-shelf solution? Or should we build it ourselves to our exact requirements – or get a third party organization to do the same?

There isn’t necessarily an easy answer to that question. There’s certainly no answer that is always true. But there are ways to think, and questions to ask, that can help you make the right decision for your business and your precise situation. In the rest of this short piece, I want to give examples of those questions, and I hope they will prove useful.

But before we go any further: a disclaimer. Yes, we sell software. That means that I can’t possibly be entirely independent on the subject, and I wouldn’t expect any reader to accept everything I say without hesitation. On the other hand, we spend a lot of time working with large organizations and we hear plenty of horror stories. We’re often the first phone call a Product Manager with burned fingers makes after it’s all gone horribly wrong. And in a purely practical sense, we’ve seen the strengths and weaknesses of both homegrown and off-the-shelf software. So I will try to be reasonably impartial

In that spirit, let us start with the positives when it comes to building your own. These can be summed up pretty easily: you will have total control over what functionality is included, and it will be tailored to suit your requirements perfectly. That is the theory at least. In addition, as time passes and requirements change, your IT team, under your direct control, will prioritize what matters to you. There is no need to juggle competing demands from multiple customers, as may be the case with an independent vendor.

All simple enough. But let’s be honest, you don’t exactly have to look very hard to find tales of woe when it comes to bespoke software projects. Like Richard II, let us pause for a moment to “sit on the ground and tell sad stories of missed deadlines, bloated budgets and general incompetence raised to previously unheard of levels” (he didn’t say the last bits).

These outcomes often occur when certain questions were not asked before deciding to build internally. That doesn’t come as a surprise. For many organizations, building is the default choice. I mean, if you have hundreds of engineers sitting around you might as well do something with them – right? In the haste to ‘get on with the job’, it is awfully easy to make a monumental – and monumentally expensive – blunder.

If you don’t want to do that, here are just a few of the questions that need to be asked, and some comments around the answers you might expect to receive. For ease-of-understanding, I’ve referred specifically to the mobile marketing space that Swrve operates in, but in most cases the responses Go to the full article.

Source:: Business 2 Community

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