Build Versus Buy - The People Perspective

Build v buy people

Data Management

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been discussing a common dilemma that many large organizations face: Should you build an enterprise application to manage your processes using internal resources or buy an outsourced solution?

This blog hones in on the people issues you will face when building an enterprise application in-house. Read our technical point of view here and our business case here.

Skills and Capabilities

It takes many skills to design and deploy a business solution that is scalable, extendable and able to accommodate changes. These skill sets are vast: back end, front-end development, data management, design, support, maintenance, quality control, procedural documentation – the list goes on and on.

Unless one of your core business areas is product development around a specific process, such as renewals or consumption management, there is an extremely high probability that your operations and maintenance technology resources do not include all of the skill sets necessary for a successful and timely solution to be developed.

Invest or hire people with these skills

So, if you’ve figured out that you have some gaps, you might be considering investing in training existing staff or hiring new ones to fill these gaps.

While this may be possible, remember that it will generally take at least 3 months for any new staff member to fully integrate into your organization and start being productive.  

So, what about training your existing staff? Are you certain that by filling the skillset gaps today, the right people in your existing workforce will be motivated to stay to support and maintain your application over the time period required for the project to reach break-even point? We estimate this type of project break-even point is roughly 3 years. And after you have trained these people, are you confident they won’t market their new found skills elsewhere…to a competitor?

User Training

Apart from the issue (and cost) of training existing staff to build an application, you will need to train the people who are going to use this system. Depending on the level of complexity, it may take days of training for people to be fully independent and productive on your brand new tool.

Will you only have internal users on the system or will you require your partners to be using it as well? You will need to factor in training programs or developing training manuals for external users (who may not be as invested as you are in your new system!)


Retention of core staff is critical when building any IT solution. What will happen to your expensive project if a key staff member leaves? The costs of employee turnover is beyond the scope for this blog, but keep in mind that all these issues can be easily avoided with an outsourced solution.

Staff are so prone to change that relying on them to custom build your application is going to ultimately risk major failure at some stage. When you outsource to a 3rd party, you remove almost every disruption that your internal staff turnover can potentially cause.

So why wouldn’t you save yourself the worry, stress and headache?

You may initially think that building an enterprise application will generate cost savings compared to an outsourced solution. Or that perhaps your internal team could build a best practice application internally, however, the long term people cost of properly managing and maintaining a business-essential application should not be underestimated and generally will overtake any imagined savings.

Have you really got the right people to build your custom solution? Isn’t it time you considered an outsourced solution? 

Build vs Buy

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