One common complaint we hear is the challenge business owners face in deciding to build or buy software. Many companies are currently dealing with an inefficient collection of spreadsheets, databases and programs that do not work well together. Software presents a unique challenge to business owners who are already making many critical business decisions every day. When new software is required, an efficient system needs to be strategically selected that is scalable with the growth of the organization.
When a company is in need of new software, there are many questions that arise in the decision making process… Which option is best for your business? Should you buy new, “off-the-shelf” software? Is a custom option more practical? Is there a solution somewhere in between? When searching for software options the question often becomes… should I “build, buy or both?”
When To Buy Software For Your Business
There are a number of ready-to-use software options on the market that can help to make a business run more efficiently. Benefits to buying off-the-shelf software include getting something up quickly and implementing industry best practices through the software.
Because these options are targeted to a larger audience, often times these software solutions offer extensive training modules. These can help key staff to hit the ground running. If there is a need to implement a solution quickly, buying an existing software is a good option.
One drawback of buying software is that it can be one-size-fits-all. These solutions will only get you 85% of the way at best. Off-the-shelf software can also be a drawback if you have market differentiators in your operation. Let’s face it, Amazon would not be Amazon if they implemented off-the-shelf software.
You need to consider what problems the off-the-shelf software solves and which ones it doesn’t and make a business decision based on cost, timeline and features.
When To Build Software For Your Business
Many off-the-shelf solutions don’t fit the unique business needs of a growing company. If you cannot find a system to buy that fits your business needs, you may need to develop a custom solution.
When considering a custom build, start with a checklist of what the software needs to accomplish. This list will be a tool in helping you decide what you want the custom solution to do. Some of the questions you need to ask yourself include:
- What business problems will the software solve?
- What are my market differentiators?
- How is my business going to grow over the next 2, 5, 10 years?
- How does my software need to grow to support my growth
Custom software can be built to connect various processes in your business; from lead generation to fulfillment to follow up. Building software that is custom to your operations can help you eliminate efficiencies and improve communication company wide.
When To Do A Little Of Both
Often times, companies need a little bit of both… off-the-shelf software, combined with custom solutions. Creating an option with both build and buy offers the flexibility of a custom solution with the rapid turn around time of a ready-to-use option. Building in custom integrations to pre-built software can often take a product that is decent to a one that fits your company’s needs exactly and helps close that 85% gap.
Team integration is extremely important for all companies, but each team has a different software solution. A “both” approach allows for best of breed software to be implemented. For example, a company might want to use an existing CRM and sales tool, with a custom core operations system and an existing accounting back end.
The Bottom Line…
Knowing when to Build or Buy Software can be a challenge for many businesses owners. Buying can get you a new software solution quickly and implement best business practices. Build if you can’t find something to buy off-the-shelf or if your business has unique processes, needs or market differentiators. Building and buying (both) is another great option when you want to create a best of breed platform for your business.
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Tom Swip has been developing and streamlining business processes for over 20 years. Tom’s expertise lies in business process automation, software and application design and network infrastructure. In his spare time, Tom likes kayaking, mountain biking and other outdoor activities.