Buy vs. Build: 3 Reasons to Choose a Custom Software Solution

Regardless of industry, companies worldwide are looking for software solutions to streamline operations, improve efficiency, and boost customer experience. But before technology can tackle that punchlist, companies have to make a decision: buy vs. build. In other words: Do you pick an off-the-shelf software package (buy), or opt for a custom-built solution (build)?

Gartner estimates that nearly half a trillion dollars was spent on enterprise software globally in 2020 – an 8.2 percent jump in year-over-year spending. This spending is being driven primarily by the expanding reach of the cloud and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

So, obviously, there’s a lot of “buy” going on. But there are some cases where “build” may be a better fit. Let’s take a look at three reasons why you might opt for building a customized software solution instead of buying something off-the-shelf.

No.  1: You have software integration issues.

Some companies have disparate software platforms and technology ecosystems that need to be integrated into a new enterprise-level software solution – but not all software and systems can seamlessly co-perform, or even co-exist, with an off-the-shelf solution.

The team at Saxony Partners sees this frequently with clients in a variety of industries and subindustries. The goal of an enterprise-level, cloud-based solution is to funnel data into a centralized location, eliminating silos and allowing you to leverage analytics into make data-driven decisions on behalf of your company. But the proprietary nature of software can get in the way of this goal. Heck, anyone with both an Amazon Music and an iTunes subscription knows this reality.

Saxony’s .NET and app dev teams can design software with custom APIs and other functionalities aimed at getting disparate systems to integrate into a centralized platform. This will improve operational efficiency and give you new analytics functionality to improve decision-making.  

RELATED: Read more about how we solved data integration issues for a client.

No. 2:  An off-the-shelf system may not be rightsized for your business.

Another reason you might opt for “build” in a “buy vs. build” scenario? The off-the-shelf solution may not be a good fit for your business model.

Take one of Saxony’s restaurant clients, for example. A large, quick-service chain was looking for a specialized system to record and process food orders. But most of those off-the-shelf systems – known as kitchen display systems (KDS) in their industry – were built to process expansive menus (which this client did not have). With every “buy” option more complex than the client needed or wanted, they approached Saxony with a request for a pared-down, customized platform that was efficient, easy-to-navigate, and could be fully integrated with their existing software ecosystem.

With those goals in mind, the team at Saxony leveraged its expertise to help the client select the right hardware for its kitchens and engaged its .NET team to develop customized displays and dashboards. The result was a customized KDS that was more cost-effective than off-the-shelf options – one that integrated existing, disparate software systems and delivered analytics that improved order fulfillment, food quality, and customer experience.

RELATED: Read more about this client story here.

No. 3: You’re in control, now and in the future.

Perhaps the greatest benefit to building a customized software solution? You are in complete control of the process and the product.

Off-the-shelf systems can only be configured so much, and some come with warranties and non-disclosure arrangements that prevent helpful customizations, add-ons, and future scaling. Saxony clients expect to grow and scale in the future – and they expect their software needs to evolve over time. They don’t want their enterprise-level software stuck in amber.

Using the previous story as an example, this client worked arm-in-arm with Saxony to ensure that the product we delivered met their needs precisely. That’s having control of the creation process.

Moreover, the 1.0 version of the customized software platform we delivered has since been scaled and adapted to meet current and future needs. New data functionality has set the stage for predictive analytics, which is allowing the chain to adjust food prep to align with peak order times (saving money and improving efficiency). And because this is a growing restaurant chain, the platform is built to expand with the company’s footprint. That’s having control of the product, now and in the future.

In some cases, your company may be able to purchase an off-the-shelf software product that seamless integrates with your existing technology stack and aligns with your current and future business goals. But when your needs and goals don’t align with what you see in the marketplace, a trusted technology partner can work with you to create a solution that is tailor-made for your business.