Modification date: October 6, 2020

Build vs Buy: The Pros and Cons

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Build Versus Buy: The Pros and Cons of Buying Off-the-Shelf Software or Building Your Own Custom Systems

In today’s business world, a software component is critical for any business looking to gain efficiencies. Software systems that automate back office processes — from customer relationship management to billing to reporting — empower businesses to leverage technology and free up their finite labor resources for other, high-order work.

When it comes to software solutions, it can be quite difficult to decide whether to choose the flexibility of building your own software or the speed of buying a tried-and-tested third-party option off the shelf. Many businesses today face that dilemma, and it’s not just a question of cost. It’s also important to consider a solution’s efficiency, effectiveness and fit with your company’s long-term goals.

Prior to making a decision about whether to build or buy, consider the following points:

  1. What are the issues you’re trying to solve with software, and how unique are they?

    If, for example, you need a rather straightforward customer management system with some basic functionality, there will likely be many off-the-shelf solutions to choose from. But if you’re looking for complex functionality or you’re solving a problem specific to your company or industry, you may have trouble finding a workable solution on the market.

  2. Do you have the funds you need to see this project through to completion?

    Building custom software costs more upfront than purchasing pre-built software. Depending on the size and profitability of your business, this can be a deal-breaker.

  3. What are the time constraints for implementing a software solution?

    There are process models in software development that allow for generating working software modules quickly, but launching a fully-loaded custom software solution takes time, which the business may or may not have.

The answers to these questions will help guide your decision, but it’s important to consider the implications of each approach before pulling the trigger.

Build vs. Buy: Pros and Cons

To help you decide, we’ve laid out some of the pros and cons of each option:

Pros of Building

  • Customization and Scale: One of the biggest pros of building your own custom software solution is that it will include all the functionality you need to operate in exactly the ways you need it to. The software you end up with will be tailored to your unique business model and challenges. Total control over the development also allows you to add any new features when needed so that your business can continue to run like a well-oiled machine. You can start with a prototype and grow the software as your revenues grow. Additionally, your employees will be able to give their feedback on what features are essential to streamline their workflows.
  • Greater control: As the sole owner of the solution, you will have full control over user options, security measures, and system updates. Plus, complete ownership gives you the option to market the product, itself, offering your software as a service down the line.
  • Competitive edge: With a custom software solution, you can gain a competitive advantage by leveraging the most efficient, connected, and scalable technology, helping your business get ahead of the game in your industry. Your software can differentiate your business from others in the crowded marketplace.
  • Guaranteed integration: Building your own solution means you can ensure seamless integration with any existing software, tools, and processes already in use.

Cons of Building

  • Significant upfront cost: Like anything that is customized, a custom solution will cost more than an off-the-shelf product. However, off-the-shelf solutions may not always be the most economically feasible route in the long run. Over time, the use of pre-built software can create a loss of revenue due to the lack of scalability or critically essential functionality. Software that is specifically created and customized to your workflow can push production and profitability through the roof and lead to exponentially faster business growth.
  • Time to build: It takes time to identify your organization’s workflow processes and develop the software that optimizes them. You have to be prepared to spend time gathering this information so that a custom solution will be appropriate and powerful for your business.

Pros of Buying

  • Lower upfront cost: If cost is a major concern and you have limited resources to launch, pre-built software may be your best option since it is typically cheaper to buy and implement.
  • Rapid deployment: Ready-made programs should be good to go as soon as you pay for them and load them onto your system. If an existing solution perfectly meets most of your needs, there may be little point investing time and money in developing a version of something that is already out there.
  • Updates, new features and ongoing maintenance: Third-party providers will want to stay competitive. As well as keeping up with maintenance, a third-party solution will often be updated regularly with new features and functionality.

Cons of Buying

  • Less customization: While many third-party software solutions enable some customization, the solution won’t be custom built for you.
  • Less control: The vendor controls the solution’s updates, volume capacity, and functionalities. All the key decisions on the software’s features and future are out of your hands.
  • Compatibility and connectivity issues: Pre-built software may not be compatible with other programs, devices, or products that you are using today — or with solutions you may need to implement in the future.
  • Long-term Cost: Although ready-made software may be cheaper to buy initially, its costs may grow over time. Subscriptions and licenses tend to be time-limited, so you'll have to reinvest whenever they run out. What is more, if your company grows significantly, you will have to add more licenses for new employees.

There are a lot of factors to consider when deciding whether to buy off-the-shelf software or develop a custom software solution from scratch to meet all your unique business needs. If you decide to go with a third-party system, be sure to take the time to weigh the different vendors and solutions available. If you choose to build a custom software platform, recognize the time, effort, and costs it will incur, along with the long-term benefits.

Publication date: October 7, 2019

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What our customers say about us

Syberry’s team was highly responsive and communicative, managing our project smoothly, responding immediately to any issues that arose, and delivering great software at a reasonable price.

Richard Harkness

CEO, ADEPT Driver

Elk Grove, CA

How we help ADEPT Driver Company

We developed a web-based driving simulator for teens and another for adults. The products run on Chromebooks, and the team added features that enable them to measure a driver's ability to avoid a crash.

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I don't think you could find a better company to manage and build your project. I get so many compliments on my application, and it has a lot of unique and complex development.

Todd Surber

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Charleston, South Carolina

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A photographer approached us to build a web-based software platform that combines the fastest social media manager with state-of-the-art galleries and provides the ultimate tool for photographers to upload, store, back up, and share their photos and manage their SMM activities.

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The high-quality, user-friendly software Syberry created for us has helped grow our clientele, and we were very pleased with their partnership. Syberry was straightforward and consistent in their communication, met every deadline, and ensured a hassle-free development process.

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Knoxville, TN

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Our client was inspired to create a product that helps steel erection companies perform faster, more efficient estimations and bids. We developed original proprietary software from the initial concept.

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Syberry delivered world-class service for a cost-efficient price. They communicated well with our team throughout the process, breaking down steps and utilizing a streamlined management system to keep everyone in the loop at all times. The resulting new platform far outperforms its predecessor and has received rave reviews.

Bill Fahy

Owner, FDI Creative Services

Houston, TX

How we help FDI Creative Services Company

Following strict regulations and requirements, we used AWS to develop a custom e-commerce web app that includes shipping integration. Since the site’s launch, the team has continued to make updates.

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The application was delivered on time and within budget. Syberry explained their process thoroughly and accommodated to scope changes effortlessly. Their stellar project management, highly responsive communication, and proactive attitude set them apart.

Ricardo Casas

CEO, Fahrenheit Marketing

Austin, TX

How we help Fahrenheit Marketing Company

We developed a large, complex .NET application with various third-party integrations. The team built the software from scratch based on existing wireframes.

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The end solution exceeded the client’s expectations. Syberry delivered high-quality products on time and at outstanding value. They provided frequent updates and repeatedly sought feedback at each stage. Customers can expect a highly experienced team that easily translates concepts into solutions.

Rudy Milkovic

Executive Director, Velicom

Austin, TX

How we help Velicom Company

Our team built video streaming software as a web and desktop app for a third-party client. We completed end-to-end development—from scoping to feedback cycles to QA—using PHP and Wowza Streaming Engine.

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Syberry has significantly improved our existing platform, and they continue demonstrate their dedication to our business goals and needs by making thoughtful suggestions for enhancements. The Syberry team is communicative and reliable, mitigating all our concerns about outsourcing software development.

Cory Kowal

VP of Products, THG Energy Solutions

Tulsa, OK

How we help THG Energy Solutions Company

Taking over for another vendor, we served as the ongoing software engineering partner for an energy company’s cloud-based platform. The company provided scoping, development, testing, and deployment services.

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Syberry has been an invaluable partner in development. Their impressive team was more than able to fulfill our project needs, and their expertise and dedication led to smooth collaboration every step of the way. The result was a successfully launched product that has received lots of positive feedback.

Chris Cox

CTO, MyMelo

Louisville, Kentucky

How we help MyMelo Company

We provided staff augmentation resources for a development project. The team contributed engineers to follow an established roadmap to perform updates and add features.

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The database Syberry developed has empowered 40 organizations to help in the fight against COVID-19. A communicative partner, the Syberry team worked quickly and efficiently to launch the website, and they continue to invest their time and efforts into the project.

David Snyder

Product Director, Covid Resource Network

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How we help Covid Resource Network Company

The company developed a website that serves as a database where organizations can find and donate to other organizations. Currently, the team is working on enhancing the website and fixing bugs.

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Syberry was a patient partner, making this engagement feel like a true collaboration. The system they created for us will save our team significant time and frustration.

Joyce Cubio

VP of Operations, Ernie's Mobile Home Transport

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How we help Ernie's Mobile Home Transport Company

The team built an information hub for a mobile home transport and permit service. After discussing the existing system and processes, we delivered a new structure for forms and data.

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The Syberry team is skilled at juggling multiple projects. Though they are in high demand, we were confident that they had the resources and the expertise needed to focus on our partnership. Their constant dedication led to a truly successful engagement, and the final product exceeded all our expectations.

John Fox

Executive VP, Fox Business Automation Solutions

Lakeland, Florida

How we help Fox Business Automation Solutions Company

Brought on as a third party, we supplied ongoing development services. The team work on multiple projects and deliver according to predetermined design specifications.

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Contact us to learn more about how Syberry can help your business achieve its every goal!

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