There is one in almost every company. The idealistic geek who has a dream: build in-house the perfect software/process solution that will solve all of the disparate data and reporting problems. They have expertise, ambition and a powerhouse of talented resources at their disposal! Not only would they build the slickest custom solution the organization could have ever hoped for, it could even be licensed to other teams for a profit! It’s going to be a sure-fire winner project! Right?

You probably know where this is going. The development team slaves for months, coding until their fingers bleed, until finally the solution is rolled out. It elegantly matches your business’ specific processes in every way, and it even produces that one special dashboard report the executive sponsor so desperately wanted. But does it have the depth to drive your business forward long-term?

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Implementation

How long did it take to roll out? Was it built on old business processes that are already changing? Is it prepared to handle the scale and agility it needs to “fly” in the real world, beyond your internal teams?

Functionality

Is the solution robust enough to accommodate new go-to-market strategies? Does it have the ability for product line owners to build pricing that meets market demands without the need to rebuild the system? Delayed time to market not only defers revenue, but may also mean you miss out on critical market timing. Can it handle the new subscription product packaging sales want to implement, or track the usage or consumption data customer service needs?

Maintenance

What about upgrades and maintenance? What internal resources will be dedicated to maintain basic system updates? Are internal IT resources required every time a new product is launched? What about the more important development of new features and functions? How will enhancement requests be prioritized?

Scalability

Is the infrastructure scalable? At what point will transaction volume be an issue? What about data transfer speeds or bandwidth limits? Security? Compliance? What measures are being taken to ensure the integrity of the data? What are the risks in the case of a data breach?

Usability

How does it look? As superficial as it sounds, this is important! Is it clunky for everyday users because no one in your company specializes in user interface design or graphic arts? How does that affect adoption? If it’s not used, then it’s not useful.

An internally-created solution may not be built to take into consideration variables that haven’t yet been an issue to your organization. However, a proven, enterprise-ready platform has the domain expertise behind it to solve for problems you might not even know you have yet. Only when you combine all of these considerations can you determine the true cost of building or buying a solution.