IN TODAY’S DAY AND AGE, IT IS PRACTICALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO RUN A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS WITHOUT INVESTING IN TECHNOLOGY, ONE WAY OR ANOTHER. THE QUESTION TO ASK YOURSELF IS NOT IF YOU SHOULD INVEST IN TECHNOLOGY, BUT RATHER HOW YOU SHOULD INVEST IN TECHNOLOGY. YOU MIGHT WANT TO IMPROVE YOUR INTERNAL SYSTEMS, SO YOUR WORKFORCE CAN PERFORM MORE EFFICIENTLY. YOU MIGHT WANT TO OFFER YOUR CUSTOMERS A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE WHEN INTERACTING WITH YOU ONLINE. PERHAPS YOU WANT TO DEVELOP AND SELL AN INNOVATIVE PRODUCT THAT ADDS A NEW REVENUE STREAM TO YOUR BUSINESS. NO MATTER WHAT WAY YOU LOOK IT, TECHNOLOGY CAN BE USED TO TAKE YOUR ORGANISATION TO THE NEXT LEVEL.
One of the traditional ways of utilising technology to transform businesses, has been to focus on custom software development. With custom software, you can really hone in on what makes your company unique, and build a tailor-made solution that helps you achieve your business goals and achieve a competitive advantage.
There are many reasons why companies decide to go down the custom software route, and one of the main reasons is around flexibility. A custom software solution offers a great level of flexibility; you can integrate a custom solution with your existing systems, and you can have more say over the design and features.
But perhaps the biggest reason organisations embark on custom software projects, is the power it adds to one of the most valuable assets of a business - Intellectual Property (IP.) Creating IP helps build and protect your brand, ensures you are recognised as a creator of innovation, and transforms the market value and competitiveness of your business within your industry. A custom solution is created especially for you, and you own the IP rights. This means you can have more control over, and confidence in, the future of your system and your organisation.
The whole idea of custom software development is that it creates something that does not currently exist. But is custom always the best way to go? At Solentive, we believe the game of custom software is changing.
If you take a step back and think about what you need your software to do, you might realise it needs to perform a relatively common task. If that is the case, it is likely that a product already exists that solves your problem. Why reinvent the wheel, when you can use a tried and tested product to get the outcome you desire? For example, are you looking for a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system? There are many reputable CRM systems on the market, such as Dynamics, Salesforce, HubSpot and Zoho, so it would make little sense to develop one from scratch.
When you buy an existing software product, the burden of product development, quality assurance, maintenance, migrations, and fixes, sit with the vendor. You can save time, money, and resources, and focus your efforts on other things. Products from big vendors solving common problems, are likely to have a large customer base. You can capitalise on this, and gain efficiencies and scale as the product does. You also know that the product is trusted and there has been broad adoption of the system. You can check reviews, feedback forums and online customer communities, to gain confidence the product will help you achieve your business outcomes.
Purchasing a product from a major software vendor, allows you to outsource some of the risk to them. Do you need to ensure your clients that rigorous security measures are in place? You can sleep easy, knowing large companies have been put through the ringer when it comes to security, and have robust processes and procedures in place that are their sole responsibility.
So, when do you know when to buy and when to build?
The choice whether to buy an existing product or build a custom solution is a complicated one. It is important to consider the pros and cons of each, across all components of a project – financial, technical, functional, speed to market, flexibility and most importantly your strategic objectives for embarking on the project in the first place.
At Solentive, we believe the traditional way of utilising technology via custom software development is changing and being replaced with a combination of buy and build. At a broad level, it could be recommended that for the common aspects of your system, it is best to buy, and for the unique aspects that set you apart from your competition, it is best to build. Leveraging both custom software and existing products offers the winning solution.
The Custom + Product offering can be thought of as a continuum, with one end being pure custom and the opposite end being pure product.
Where your project sits on this continuum, needs to be investigated and explored thoroughly, and is a key part of a sound Digital Strategy. Partnering with an Independent and Agnostic provider like Solentive can absolutely help you do this.
Our next article aims to explore this idea of a continuum in more detail and looks more closely at when an organisation should choose to buy vs build.
If you would like to explore this idea or discuss your software project with one of our experts, please contact us.