As a business owner, it is important for me to find the proper balance between the short-term needs and long-term goals of my company – especially when we prepare to launch a new product. When our new mobile app was in development there was a lot of arguing about whether we have to get it to market quickly to see the instant results or we should take our time and make sure to get it just right to ensure long-term benefits.
“Build vs. buy” dilemma is a challenging issue for any company that tries to define its IT strategy. When we were just starting out, we used off-the-shelf solutions as we lacked resources to cover all the expenses of custom development. However, as our business grew, we noticed that lack of customization slowed down our work and did not allow us to reach the desired level of scalability. Eventually, we had to invest into building our own software, which was complicated and quite expensive.
We bought a custom-built package system in 2013 and it worked well… by that time’s standards. By 2015, both our criteria of performance and the industry standards have changed so much and kept evolving so quickly that our existing solution was completely inadequate. Today we can evaluate and predict our company’s long-term needs much better than then – and we are happy to help you learn enough about it so that you can learn from our mistakes.
Although building your own solution is helpful in many respects, first you should consider the following questions:
- Is your business large or small?
- How do you plan to grow it?
- Will your company structure change over time? If yes, then how?
- Does developing a software solution has a clearly defined deadline?
- What is your budget?
What are the benefits of investing in custom software?
The Rule of Three – code reuse
When developing your own software, you can expect high ROI that will eventually cover all your costs. What are the benefits going to be exactly?
Custom software will meet all your needs
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Off-the-shelf solutions are by definition one-size-doesn’t-quite-fit-all. They usually address the needs of most companies working in a particular niche, but if you need anything special you’ll have to tolerate inconveniences and jury-rigged solutions. If you want software that really does exactly what you need it to do, custom-built is your only choice.
Besides, building your software from scratch doesn’t have to be an insurmountable challenge. Development process using java programming platform is quite simple, as it was specifically designed to be easy to use and write. The flexibility of custom java solutions will allow you to change and adjust their functionality depending on how fast your company evolves.
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Business environment doesn’t tolerate those who don’t strive to always be ahead of the game, and the only way to always use cutting-edge solutions is to use custom-built software. By choosing a premade solution you can risk entering your niche with an obsolete technology that will lose you your competitive advantage. It is especially true if you work with IoT-based technologies.
If you have big plans for your company, this solution probably your best choice. Even if you find an existing piece of software that meets most of your company needs today, it is highly unlikely to do equally good job as your business grows.
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Last but not the least, buying off-the-shelf solutions is just plain dangerous as their weak points are usually well-known to hackers. A small breach can result into a significant problem that affects the whole system. On the other hand, custom software is unique and compromising it is a difficult task.
Case Study: Custom Java Release Management Plugin for Wargaming.net
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Wargaming.net is one of the best-known developers of free-to-play MMO games. With multiple offices throughout the world, the main problem they encountered was communication and timely collaboration between all of its employees in different offices. Simply writing notification emails with enormous lists of addresses was no longer supportable, and so the company sought a custom solution from a Java development company.
The solution was found in a combination of a Java plugin and a custom tool integrated with a data storage for gathering addresses and sending notifications according to predetermined rules.
However, Custom Doesn’t Equal Perfect
Relay is a beautiful app for creating and sharing custom maps
Nevertheless, although custom solutions have been of enormous benefit for my company, I do not consider them to be the right decision in any situation. There are many tools that can do a world of good for small companies with limited budgets. Even large companies that commonly build their own software sometimes rely upon package solutions with excellent results.
Case Study: A SaaS Solution for Accounts Payable Automation
If there is one issue that the absolute majority of businesses (especially of online variety) has to deal with, it is the problem of processing and keeping track of financial accounting, billing processes and financial flows, both internal and external.
There are plenty of ready-made solutions as well as offers to prepare one specifically for a particular business; you simply have to choose what works for you, and if you choose one that is ready-made but heavily customizable and done by skilled developers, you won’t lose anything.
The case in question is NEC – a flexible and transparent SaaS solution that fully automates accounts payable workflow, eliminating an enormous amount of unnecessary manual activity.
It has numerous functions, covering everything a business may need in this area: invoice submitting and authorization, configuration and automation of approval chain, batch processing of approved invoices and much more.
You simply have to spend some time to figure out the processes in your company before choosing the option that fits your strategy.
For instance, if you prepare to start a business or launch a new project you probably do not have a ready-to-use solution. In this case, off-the-shelf software will make the start a bit easier. However, as your business changes and grows you will probably need to step away and customize your package.