Buying off-the-shelf or Building from scratch?

As an enterprise technology owner, you are commonly faced with the strategic question of… should we build a solution from scratch or does it make sense to just buy a pre-built solution from a 3rd party.

Asking yourself and your team a set of healthy introspective questions is important.

  • Is it cost effective to consider building vs. buying a solution?
  • Have we considered long-term operational & maintenance expenses?
  • Would building this solution fit as a core competency in our team or would this be considered ‘something different’?
  • Is there valuable IP in off-the-shelf software that may be difficult to replicate?

A peer of mine once described a group that decided to spin-up a solution as a team that wanted to ‘play developer’.

Spinning up a solution is an investment. Be cautious about taking this leap. If you are willing and able to make the investment, dedicate the resources, care & feed the solution on an ongoing basis… Great!!!

There is a reason off-the-shelf software typically comes from a dedicated company… because it takes a lot of effort to focus and create a great product. If you cannot make that level of commitment, chances are that the solution your team creates will be old & antiquated in 3-5 years and it will be a mess that somebody has to cleanup.

If you are on the fence, lean more towards buying off-the-shelf.