The Enterprise Software Conundrum: Build or Buy


The question of whether to build or buy a software application is a baffling one. Companies that are small and new usually start with standard off-the-shelf products which are either free or come with a low monthly or annual cost. As the company grows, it starts crying for tools that can cater to a larger customer base, provide more functionalities like deep analytics, automation, and management of processes. Most of the organizations which are not big MNCs lack a clear idea regarding the software selection process, often and almost always it takes experience of years on choosing the right software that fulfills all current and future requirements.

Build vs Buy

The question of build vs buy is faced by most organizations and institutions at some point of time, this challenge requires a high level of rational analysis. Often the answer is arrived at based on emotional drivers giving less weightage to hard data. When faced with this indecisiveness, to buy an existing off-the-shelf product seems like a safer bet. The cost of these canned products are lesser compared to building a new software from scratch or outsourcing it to a development shop, they provide with the required functionalities and save a lot of time and money. Customized products on the other hand may cost higher and may not be available on time for the ongoing project.

As it may seem a safer bet at the moment, off-the-shelf tools may not fulfill the ever-changing needs of a growing and dynamic organization, standard products come with standard functionalities which are common over the industry and may not fulfill your unique business models. Customized software on the other hand requires time and resources to develop, the choice of in-house development requires a large pool of IT talent dedicated for the software development and may take your focus out of the core business. Faced with this indecisiveness, leaders need to deeply analyze all the aspects, consult with vendors, and have multiple brainstorming before arriving at the correct judgment.

Requirement Analysis

The foremost step is to create a list of all the features your new tool ought to have, it should cover all the current and future expectations. It’s highly unlikely that a software will fulfill all of your expectations, however it is imperative to have a list and rank them on priorities. Requirement analysis itself is not a simple task as there are always unknown features whose absence might become an obstacle for an all-round functioning of the tool in near future. Feedbacks from customers and employees will throw up some light on the features whose existence will make your tool a robust and comprehensive one. Another clever thing to do is to peep into your competitors solutions and do some reverse engineering, that is to extensively scan it to get enlightened on the features which would benefit your business model.

Time And Cost

When you’ve got a list of all the features your software needs to have, it gives you an idea of how much time and resources it takes to build one. If your organization has enough IT talent to spare for the project and you can wait so long for the tool to be developed from scratch, and if the expected outcome from the tool justifies every effort that goes into making it, the decision sways towards in-house development. Off-the-shelf products come at a low cost and are readily available, but a careful analysis needs to be made if it satisfies all the requirements, a 70% satisfaction should sway the decision towards buying a readymade.

The hard decision of whether to build or buy a software solution is arrived at with careful analysis of all the aspects. The bottom line is that if a standard existing product satisfies most of the requirements and the scope of your project is largely covered by it, it doesn’t make sense to invest big money and time to build a custom software. But what if even after rigorous analysis, down the line new requirements crop up?

iPC Scholar, the flagship online learning management system is a cloud-based, content-agnostic platform designed to cater to a wide spectrum of journal and e-book publishers, education providers, and other types of enterprises outside the STM realm which can also be customized as per unique requirements. This learning tool which has a standard avatar also has the required framework to add, subtract or tweak extra features. The perfect blend of standard and customized features allows flexibility and adaptability to suit any requirements. Providers of education and enterprise training who want to adopt online learning can amply benefit from iPC Scholar, a robust online learning platform which provides device-agnostic online/ offline learning experience with course builder and assessment management. As the experience grows, features like deep analytics and adaptive learning can be added to make it more comprehensive online learning experience

RoI Potential

While acquiring a new tool the most important aspect to consider for an organization is whether the product will help generate enough money to justify its cost. For learning institutions, the question is whether the tool will be widely accepted and it adds an important dimension to the education programmes successfully. For enterprises implementing online training, the investment should justify its cost by providing enhanced employee training and management. The decision is influenced by whether the expectations are met by any standard product available or there is a need of customized product which will give satisfactory returns on the time and money invested. Either way, the tool should fit in your vision, it should help in the long-term goal of your organization and be flexible enough to adapt to future needs and justify its costs.

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