Should You Build or Buy Software?

Apples and oranges, chalk and cheese.

Comparing bespoke software to canned solutions is a lot harder than one would initially assume — and yet companies across the world face this challenge every day.

The trouble lies in achieving a proper and balanced understanding of one’s immediate needs on the one hand, and long-term goals and ambitions on the other.

So to make this decision as straightforward as is humanly possible, here are a few important points to consider:

Is your problem really unique?

In this day and age, odds are someone somewhere has already come up with a good solution for you. Yet in spite of this fact, many companies overestimate just how unique their problems are.

Ordinary businesses, such as restaurants and hotels, will probably find that their issues can easily be taken care of with off-the-shelf software.

Still, pre-made solutions are certainly not for everyone.

For companies possessing truly specialised needs, bespoke software is often deemed the only viable route.

Are you on a tight budget?

Because pre-made solutions tend to be more affordable than their bespoke counterparts, they may be better suited for companies on a limited budget.

It is important, however, to be aware that despite the prevailing myth, pre-built software will not always be the cheaper option.

Over the years, the use of less-than-ideal solutions may lead to a financial loss significantly greater than any additional costs of developing bespokely.

So be sure to do your homework by comparing the available off-the-shelf choices with your preferred software providers.

How pressing is this need?

Do you need your application straightaway, or is this a problem that can be dealt with over time?

Although bespoke companies such as Software Planet Group are able to deliver working programs with every iteration, it will be some time before they are able to address every one of your specific needs.

Another thing to bear in mind is the considerable amount of time that you as well will have to dedicate to your project, as developers must be guided in whichever direction your business wishes to pursue.

On the other hand, for those who are unable or unwilling to wait, a pre-made solution could possibly fit the bill.

How much control do you want over your application?

For many organisations, although it may be tempting to buy off-the-shelf software, the lack of control over features and updates eventually proves a major deterrent.

Of course, customers are still free to find the solution that best appears to match their company’s profile, but with third-party applications, by very nature, what you see is what you get.

By contrast, bespoke software allows companies to be fully in charge of its source code, enabling them to add new features or improve functionality in any way they desire.

This leads to a much more fluent expansion process — and on that note!

Do you have ambitious plans for growth and expansion?

While companies following long-established industry practices may not see a benefit here, these days, innovation is at the heart of every industry.

For this reason, a bespoke solution is ideal for businesses hoping to gain a competitive advantage, as it makes use of the most effective, scalable and potentially groundbreaking technology.

At the same time, however, opting for canned software could mean hampering your business with outdated tech stacks and missing out on exciting opportunities to get ahead of the curve.

The final decision

Even though at this point you may find that the answer appears to be clear, as we all know, appearances can be deceiving.

This is why this decision should be taken with the utmost care and attention.

Unfortunately, many companies are lured by the prices and immediacy of pre-made applications only to find that the so-called solutions do more harm than good in the end.

Yes, comparing wildly dissimilar fruits will always be a challenge, but picking and unpicking the right bunch of questions is the key to bearing positive results.

David Blackwood

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