Software Build vs Buy

For every category, we usually find tonnes of ready-made applications:

  • Web applications / Mobile applications
  • Free applications / Paid applications
  • One time payment / Pay as you go model

We are literally spoilt with so many choices! The question is, do we still need to build an application for ourselves? This article intends to bring clarity about this.

The answer is quite simple:

Build custom software to cater to any unique needs of your business, and use ready-made software for everything else.

The rest of the article explains why.

 

Ready-made Software

With ready-made software, you get 3 important advantages:

  1. It’s already real. It’s not abstract. Before doing any significant investment, you can see the features right away and evaluate how they will help you. You have skipped many steps starting from conceptualization, design, development, testing. You also do not have any risk that the software development failed for some reason.
  2. It costs less. The software seller is selling the same solution to many customers, so he is okay not recovering all the costs in one sale. The wider the customer base is, the more the price can come down.
  3. You get advantage of the research done for others. For example, you may want to use a ready-made software that takes care of your taxes, so that the vendor has already taken care to implement the tax laws into the software and you do not need to research them. Your compliance will be much easier. Further, as the tax laws change, these vendors send updates to your software and you are automatically compliant with the changes.

Because of these reasons, it is quite attractive to use ready-made software for most cases.

 

Tailor-made Software / Custom Software

However, there is no option to custom software development with regards to whatever is central to your business. Each business is unique, and any piece of software that pertains to this uniqueness has to be unique. Let’s see some examples:

  • For document creation, most of us rely on the word processor softwares (such as Microsoft Office, Libre Office). Most users do not even make full use of the features provided by these tools. However, if you were a company for which the document generation is central to your business, and the documents you create need to stand out from the rest of the documents, you would need to go for some custom development for the same.
  • Many businesses try to use a cheap ERP to map their unique production processes. That does not work. They either have to get an ERP custom made to their process, or invest in a ready-made ERP which can be customized to their requirements.
  • There is a paper envelop company which captures over 21 fields for every customer they have. They go as detailed as the birthdays of the spouses and the children and even the sports likings. The customer relationships being central to their business, they cannot use a pre-existing CRM system but have to build one for their own.
  • There were many ready-made software tools written for car rental industry. Could Uber have used those? Of course not. Since they wanted to do something radically different, they had to invest in custom-building software.

To sum up, the reasons to invest in a tailor-made software are:

  1. You are not limited by what exists. With a ready-made software, you are also married to what it cannot do.
  2. While your business keeps changing, the software can change accordingly. This is typically not an option with ready-made software.

 

Please share this article with those who could be struggling with this decision. Write your comments below.

 

Software Build vs Buy
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