No matter what industry you work in, hiring a good software engineer has always been an expensive proposition – to say nothing of building an entire engineering team. That’s why development became an industry on its own. After all, it’s much more efficient for organisations to bring in a third-party expert than it is to build their own technological infrastructures from scratch. For the last 20 years, the norm has been for companies in verticals ranging from logistics to finance to outsource their development.
Today, the situation has turned around on its head, and more and more organisations in traditional industries have hired their own internal teams of engineers to work closely with third-party software development companies. As a result, these companies are gradually morphing into software companies themselves. Businesses in the automobile, manufacturing, and telecom industries are now actually referring to themselves as technology companies – which wouldn’t have happened even a decade ago. This is giving companies the confidence to develop the technologies they need in-house rather than hiring outside specialists to build it for them.
THE BUILD-VERSUS-BUY CONUNDRUM IN SOFTWARE
The build vs. buy conundrum is not a new one, but in the context of software development there are certain perspectives to be taken into consideration before making this decision. Here are some of the factors that need to be evaluated before deciding to go with an in-house development model:
The resources at your disposal play an important in the build vs. buy decision. The two most important resources that you should account for are money and people. If you do decide to build, you will need to train (or expand) a team of engineers with different skill sets at different stages of the project. When it comes to buying or licensing, the vendor will take care of these requirements, but you will most likely need to hire new talent throughout the development process.
If you are using specific features to differentiate yourself from your competitors, building your own technology is often a better option because the spread of development knowledge is within your control. However, if the software helps you do routine tasks, increase efficiency, or maximise effectiveness, you could be better off buying off-the-shelf solutions and then customising them as required. It is important to note that seeking competitiveness should not be confused with wanting control of the project. Whether you build or buy, most of the project will require similar project management skills.
Even if you have monetary and people resources and are building technology for competitive advantage, if you do not have time on your side buying is usually the way to go. Admittedly, this is a tricky blanket statement to make because there are so many variables at play and not two projects are the same. Decisions made under the pressure of time can go either way, but if the choice is between making no decision and making a risky decision, the latter is preferred. On the other hand, if you have the luxury of time, you may find that it is a better option to build technologies internally. An example of this would be a feature which is not really hot in the market but will become a default feature in the near future.
If your requirement is something completely out of the box and needs to be developed for the first time, building is an obvious choice. However, be mindful of the times we live in: if you are thinking of enhancing a product feature or looking to just doing something differently, chances are that someone, somewhere else, is working on it – or already has done so. Do your research and then make a decision.
About the Author: Raj Gaurav Bhandari is the Digital Marketing Manager and Salesforce evangelist forTechforce Services, a leading Salesforce Consulting company based in Sydney, Australia.
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