Build, Buy, Partner…Focusing on the Build Option
January 31, 2022 • Daren McCormick (PointClear Solutions)
5 Min Read
As many of us kick off the new year with big ideas and fresh perspective for the year ahead, you and your team might have innovative ideas brewing for your next product release. In a previous blog post, I wrote about the evaluation process when considering options for addressing your product and/or service needs. These included opportunities for building the solution internally, buying it from a third-party, or partnering with a provider of complementary products/services. This build, buy, or partner decision is strategic, vitally important, and has far reaching downstream effect.
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Before the build, buy, or partner decision for your next product or technology can be made, it is essential that your overarching goals are clearly defined and socialized. More specifically, clarity with both “what” you’re trying to accomplish as well as “why” will best position you to proceed with confidence as you shift your thoughts to “how” to get it done.
In this post, I’ll dive deeper into the option of building the solution internally or with the help of a technology partner that may be able to support and accelerate your own efforts.
BENEFITS OF CUSTOM SOLUTIONS
One of the main reasons to consider the “build” path is that internally developed solutions can be customized to be more efficient and flexible for the unique needs of your product. This means specific problem areas and opportunities for improvement can be directly targeted. These advances may also create a competitive advantage for your company.
By developing your own solution internally, you can plan for growth and scale. You will want your solution to evolve with you as your business needs require. You never want the growth of your company to be stymied by your solution. Considering both known and anticipated future needs is key to sustained solution success.
It’s likely that you have an internal ecosystem of tools and technologies already in place. Your new custom solution can be architected from inception with integration and interoperability in mind. Seamless integration across these systems can become an added advantage.
Finally, building your own custom solution significantly improves your ability to be self-reliant and not dependent upon third-party intellectual property. You can remain in better control of your own destiny without the concerns of factors that may be out of your hands.
To recap, the following includes some of the primary reasons many companies make the decision to “build” a custom solution:
- Results in a more targeted solution
- Improves your competitive advantage
- Scales with you as needs evolve
- Improves integration and interoperability with other internal systems
- Increases reliability
- Reduces dependency on third-party IP
CHALLENGES AND SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS
For a balanced view, let’s consider some of the potential challenges and special considerations with the “build” approach.
In general, upfront costs for custom solutions are higher when compared to those that are commercially available and off-the-shelf. Custom development requires a long-term view and investment commitment. Both the upfront and ongoing maintenance and support costs must be factored into the total equation. Ultimately, these early investments are expected to pay off down the road.
Developing your custom solution requires a certain level of internal operational maturity and discipline. Your wish list for the custom solution may be long, and if not effectively groomed and prioritized, may become difficult to implement. It’s usually best to create a roadmap that starts with the definition of a minimum viable product (“MVP”) and evolves with subsequent enhancement releases over time. This helps to get a solution implemented sooner and balances the workload for improved results.
In comparison to other options, building custom software takes more time. For example, if you’re licensing a third-party, off-the-shelf product, you can begin the implementation process immediately vs. waiting for the solution to be built. The MVP approach helps offset this to some extent.
Finally, you’ll need to understand what team and other resources will be needed to accomplish the objectives. Some questions to consider include:
- Do you already have a team in place with the required specific expertise?
- Are there skillset gaps to be filled?
- What is the timeline and cost for hiring additional resources?
- Are there potential gains by expanding your team through a tech partner?
You can have the best idea on the planet but without the team with technology expertise and supporting resources to execute on the idea, the initiative will not likely be set up for success. Consider looking outside your organization for strategic design and development specialists in the technology you’re building.
In summary, a few of the key challenges and special considerations with the development of a custom solution include:
- High upfront costs
- Requires internal maturity and discipline
- Takes longer to implement
- Team expertise may be lacking
Most company executives consider innovation and growth a high priority. Modernizing and customizing solutions, designed considering the specific needs of the organization, can significantly contribute to these goals. While it can be costly, it’s a highly effective approach and one well worth considering.
Want to learn more about the build option for your next solution? From idea to implementation, our in-house experts can help guide your company’s next successful tech offering. Contact us to learn more.
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