Build, Buy or Rent?Published 14 March 2014 3:41 pm
The question of whether one buys or builds depends on the maturity of the technology at the time. A few years ago, for example, we at Red Gate urgently needed a new CRM to cope with rapidly-expanding business, our instincts were to buy, but inevitably we found nothing that was a great fit. Each candidate had failings and involved compromises that were hard to accept. It was argued, successfully, that the work required to adapt what we could buy would be almost comparable to the effort to build exactly what we needed, and we duly assigned a small team of in-house developers.
At the next CRM upgrade, there will be no debate. The technology has now developed. The custom built tool will be out, and in its place will come a software package, cloud-based, and free of Red Gate-infrastructure. At the same time, out also will go any other email or marketing tools that we bought or built to plug in to the CRM. In will come commodity services to replace them.
Ready-made products tend to mature from the component level to the package, ending as complete solutions like SAP ERP. It is the same with websites. Seven years ago, when I first joined the company, I assessed several ready-made platforms for Simple-Talk, including a fledgling WordPress, and DotNetNuke. It wasn’t hard, though, to argue that no readymade solution fit the bill. We contracted a developer (now author of a highly successful HTML programming book) to build the Simple-Talk we wanted. We completed the project, end-to-end, in six months, at reasonable cost, and with a few bolt-ons and bits of sticking plaster, it’s still with us. The project was, by any measure, a success and yet to do the same thing again now would be unthinkable because there are now ready-made products out there that would be much closer to what we want.