It’s the age-old question that many organizations face to help address a major business challenge. Do I build my own custom software, or do I opt for an existing platform that’s ready to use? Or, (if you already have an in-house system in place), when do you finally let it retire?
If you’re a larger business with a substantial IT team at your disposal, then you are more likely to go down the build path. By doing so, you should have full control over the functionality and end solution. And, whilst this is likely to be true (at least for a while), you may find that this benefit is outweighed by many issues in the longer term.
Here are 7 things to consider before you build software in-house.
The first issue is the time it takes to actually build a functioning solution and have it up and running in the first place. Large in-house IT projects are notorious for exceeding expected timelines. At the start of the project, your build might be first priority, but this could easily change, leaving you wondering if it will ever be ready. You will need to consider whether you can afford to wait months or even years to solve the original issue for which it was designed. But in today’s market, time is precious, and you cannot afford to be slower than your competition.
2. Ongoing Maintenance and Support
So, you’ve spent a significant amount of time, resources and infrastructure on user research, scoping, building, integrating, testing, training and now your enterprise software is finally live! Your IT department can move on and focus on the next major project, right? Not quite. They must continue to maintain, upgrade and scale indefinitely. If they fail to do so, the software is at risk of becoming obsolete - fast. A rule of thumb in the software industry is that it takes 17% of the original cost of the solution each and every year to keep it working (this doesn’t include the cost of adding any functionality)!
3. Changing Business Needs
Your in-house software will likely to become obsolete before it’s even ready because your business priorities may change whilst it’s still being built!
On the flip side, the software may serve its core purpose for a few years, which is fantastic. But as your needs change, and it no longer meets your needs, you may find it very difficult to justify retiring the software due to the amount of time, money and resources that have gone into building and maintaining it. And that is on the proviso that you can reengage IT to do major upgrades!
As a result, you are stuck with a system which is no longer serving its purpose (or more importantly, the users) effectively.
Surprisingly, organizations who choose to build believe that it’s a more cost-effective option than opting for a third-party SaaS platform. However, it can be difficult to truly predict the total cost of your build and the ongoing costs to maintain it over the years. Whereas a third-party SaaS product would enable you to predict and budget the exact cost incurred over time.
5. Skilled Staff
The success or failure of your software is highly depending upon your in-house IT team. Do they have the skills required to build, maintain and support the solution? With technology changing at an almost exponential rate, it is impossible for the average internal IT groups to cope with this pace of change.
Ever heard the adage “Jack of all trades, master of none”? Every software company (ISV) is an expert in their field, which is why the expertise they bring to your organization could not be matched by an isolated, generalist IT team. The ISV have solved most (if not all) of your problems already for their other customers and are continuously working to improve their solution to ensure it is best of breed.
6. Staff Turnover
Consider what your business risk is if your internal subject matter experts or project leaders were to leave the company. Will that stall (or halt) the support and maintenance your program will need to keep it running successfully?
7. Competitive Advantage
Your software is only going to be as good as your internal IT and business process staff and can only be delivered as fast as you are willing to employ them.
Leave the software build to the experts
Whilst it may seem on the surface like a better option, in-house systems can be troublesome in the long run. These issues can be easily avoided with an existing, outsourced platform that is best of breed, scalable, available immediately, and will enable you to be a lot more efficient and agile.