Should You Build or Buy Software Solutions?

Software is crucial to every business today. Even more important is a clear decision process for when to make or buy software. This article gives good hints and an overview for such a process.

If you’re looking for a custom software solution, it’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons. Should you develop your own software or seek out third-party products? This final decision will come down to how you view your situation. You should assess this through the scope of systems thinking.

Build Vs. Buy Framework to Follow

Your decision should not be a toss-up if you’re serious about your business. Follow this framework and determine your problem, your budget, and the timeline you’ll follow.

The Problem

  • Is your problem a common occurrence within your industry?
  • How is the problem being addressed to fit your needs?
  • How unique is your problem?

If you have a common problem, like mobile app retention, you’ll have many solutions to select from. But this isn’t the case for a problem unique to your own industry. This could push you towards a decision to build your own software solution.

The Budget

  • Do you have the funds you need to see this project through completion?
  • Do you have a plan in case this goes over your budget?

Most companies do not have a budget to develop high-quality enterprise-level software. This is a primary reason for why it’s easier to turn to a third party company to build a solution for you.

The Timeline

  • Is your problem a serious threat to your company?
  • Is it a nagging occurrence that simply needs an improvement?

Let’s say that you’re pressed for time and need a solution right away to avoid serious consequences. If this is the case, it’s easier to find a solution already available from a third party source.

Benefits of Choosing To Build

Building your own software solution gives you the benefit of full customization. You’ll also have full data and security control. If you face a unique problem you must overcome, a third party might not be up to speed on the best way to resolve it for you. But if you choose to build, you’re the one with the knowledge on the exact specifications you need to address your company’s issue. Likewise, if you feel comfortable having complete control over the data and security your company collects, building your own solution is a better route.

Reasons You Should Not Choose To Build

There are drawbacks to consider of course. If the opportunity cost to develop a software solution on your own terms isn’t worth it, it’s better to look for a quality third-party product. This depends on whether you think working on this project will interfere with more meaningful work on your plate.

At the same time, if your problem isn’t your main priority, your solution may lack in sufficient quality. That’s when it’s your responsibility to find the right third party dedicated to solving the problem for you. That way, you can focus on other aspects of your business.

Benefits of Choosing To Buy

If you’re faced with a problem that needs immediate resolution, you shouldn’t waste your time-invest in a third party solution. Use a product that’s already out there and works so you can protect the livelihood of your business.

Also, keep in mind your economies of scale. It could cost less in the long run for you to invest in an external product. It’s possible your company will also receive a price advantage for buying resources in large quantities as well.

Reasons Why You Should Not Buy

What happens if the third party source you choose to help you end up going out of business? This is important to keep in mind. Using a software solution from an external company means you rely on their market risk of success. For this reason, you must work with high-quality third-party companies only.  And if this third-party solution isn’t fit for your needs, it might be better to consider developing your own custom solution.

What About Both?

As you can see, there are pros and cons to both of these options. After you assess the situation, it’s sometimes better to implement a strategy using both. For example, you can choose to buy in the short term to address an immediate concern, while at the same time, building your own product for long term use.


When you’re faced with a business problem that needs a custom software solution, first address the situation. Follow the basic framework of identifying your problem, defining your budget, and organizing a timeline. From there, it’s your responsibility to weigh the pros and cons of how buying or building a solution will fit the needs of you and your business. Learn more about the details you need to consider when weighing your options to buy or build, from Clevertap.

Header image source: Pixabay, pixabay license

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