Build or Buy? What’s the best route to create the tools you need?

To build or to buy, that is the question. ~ Not Shakespeare

We get this question ALL the time. “Should I build an application or system to use for my business, or should I just find something off the shelf that we can make work.”

The answer itself is relatively simple. “It depends.”

There are so many factors that go into the decision whether to build or buy. Price tends to be one of the most pressing (though time-to-market can contribute significantly as well).

Those are two great places to start when trying to answer the build or buy question. Over the years, we have trained ourselves to slow down, ask some tough questions, and really get a feel for the end goal when making recommendations.

Are you still testing the market? Have you determined that your users need this new technology to make their experience with your organization more positive? Does the new system add appreciable value to your IP? And better yet, what’s your exit plan for your business? If you are planning to sell, that certainly factors heavily into the equation.

But getting back to the question of cost, the team at Baremetrics came up with a handy calculator to help you figure out your break even on the build or buy question. Here’s a link:

Our experience is that many people with a great idea leap too quickly into the “let’s build this thing” phase of the program. They run their idea past a few friends or family, or even do a limited (and usually poorly-modeled) “focus group” and come away with feedback that encourages them to jump right to building their app.

We strongly caution against this approach.

An entire industry has been born from this type of thinking whereby people are quickly parted with hard-earned cash and investor funds only to build something “kinda neat” that the market didn’t really want (or wasn’t quite ready for).

That’s why we subscribe to the idea of creating a minimum viable audience before jumping feet first into the deep end of product development. It’s worth an additional few months of exploration, audience-building, and all the opportunities therein to make sure your product is something the market will buy before you start building it.

And having a rabid MVA ensures that when your new app drops, you have a built-in user base chomping at the bit to be the first kids on the block to buy your gadget.

Confused about which direction to go on the build vs. buy question? We have a ton of experience helping clients walk through the challenges of this conundrum. Give us a shout if you need some help in assessing your options.