It’s a common analogy: the decision between building or buying a software application is comparable to choosing whether to build or buy a house. The pros and cons for both are similar. Building it yourself often leads to something made specifically for your needs and could save you money. However, it also can take much longer than predicted and has a substantial risk of unexpected expenses. While choosing to buy can be the simpler and faster decision, you may not receive that “made just for you” feeling you were hoping for. Many of our customers struggled with this dilemma before choosing to use a third-party vendor. Why is this? We’ll highlight five things to consider before developing software in-house and why it may be better to let someone else do the heavy lifting.
Before getting started, we want to emphasize that building software in-house is not always a bad decision. If your desired solution is expected to be core to your business and your team has the resources to build it themselves, then building it in-house can be the better option. Not only will your solution have the features you need, but you’ll also have greater control over it in the long run. On the contrary, if your solution is not expected to handle core business processes and your team has other critical priorities, we encourage you to keep reading.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get started. Here are five things to consider before building software in-house.
Five Things to Consider Before Developing Software In-House:
1. It’s a massive time commitment. As we alluded to earlier, building a new software solution or application from scratch can be an extremely long, drawn-out process. In fact, the time it takes to develop the front and back-end infrastructure for a standard web application is 4.5 months. If your project includes complex features, such as secure messaging, assume it will take longer. And when you think you’re done, you’re not. Work isn’t complete once you go live. As the software developer, you will be responsible for monitoring, updating, and supporting your application even after it’s launched.
2. It’s incredibly expensive. When you build software in-house, it’s common to assume that you’re saving money. While that may be true, it’s not always the case. To put the costs into perspective, let’s crunch some numbers.
For simplicity, we’re assuming we have a one-person team, a front-end developer. We’re also assuming they’ll complete the project in 4.5 months while working 40 hours per week.
That works out to 720 hours for one employee to work on a single application. Odds are, you’ll have a team of developers working together, so make sure to multiply that number by the number of people on your team.
Since we’re talking in terms of money here, let’s convert that to how much you will spend during that time frame, using $57 as the average pay per hour for a front-end developer in the United States.
$41,040. That’s the minimum you’ll spend to build a standard web application. Now, we’ll admit that math was not perfect. You’ll likely have a larger team, consisting of employees in various roles, all getting paid different amounts.
Not to mention – all that time and money that went towards building your application could have been spent focusing on other priorities, so there’s an opportunity cost to consider.
3. It’s (probably) already been built. Unless your requirements are highly specific and unique, there’s an excellent chance someone has already built all, or at least part of, what you’re searching for. A third-party vendor has already put an extensive amount of time and work into testing and perfecting their solution to ensure it works exactly as expected. Thus, they will know the ins and outs of their product, how it was built, what it can and cannot integrate with, the potential to customize it, and solutions to common problems. In short, these folks have years of experience and know what they’re doing.
Word of warning: not every third-party vendor is built equal. While many have taken the necessary steps to protect their system’s security and meet the needs of their customers, it’s important to do your due diligence when choosing to outsource all, or parts of, your project. Here are 14 points to consider when vetting a third-party vendor, particularly when choosing an API company.
4. You will be your own support team. As mentioned earlier, building software in-house means providing support for your software throughout its lifespan. This requires a significant, ongoing time commitment from your team. It also involves a constant effort to maintain the skills and knowledge to properly respond to requests. This means continuous training for your current team, and any future team members.
5. Other products have been polished and perfected. Remember when we mentioned earlier that an application with your requirements has likely already been built? This is a critical topic, so we’re going to reference that again in this last point. Many API and SaaS companies have been around for a while and have already spent years testing, modifying, and updating their services. Often, this results in a fine-tuned product specifically designed to meet customer demands.
This experience factor is also important to consider if your desired solution must comply with industry and privacy regulations. To satisfy compliance requirements, specific steps must be taken, and certain criteria met both within the services offered and the organization who provides the service. Many third-party vendors have already taken the extensive time needed to fulfill these requirements so their customers can focus their resources elsewhere.
To Sum Up
Building software in-house may sound like a promising idea when you’re considering a project. However, it is critical to assess the pros and cons of building it yourself, lest you fall into a never-ending development cycle. And if your project involves any type of secure messaging system, additional time must be taken to meet regulatory compliance requirements.
To close out this blog post, we’d like to provide you with five preliminary questions to ask yourself when choosing to build or buy software:
- Is my desired solution core to my business processes?
- How much time and money should I devote to my project?
- Do integrations for any of my solution’s preferred features exist?
- Do I have the resources to update, maintain, and provide support for my solution throughout its lifespan?
- If my solution deals with any kind of sensitive information, what are the relevant regulations with which it must comply?
DataMotion offers a variety of API and pre-built solutions for organizations seeking to add an easy-to-use and secure messaging system to their communications toolkit. We also offer several pricing plans for our pre-built services and tiered pricing for our transactional APIs. To get an estimate on how much you’ll spend using our secure message delivery API, you can use the calculator on our pricing page.
Sources and Related Reads
- How Long Does It Take to Develop a Web App: Answers to All Questions
- Building Software In-house: Is It A Good Idea? (Build vs Buy)
- Hourly Pay for a Front-End Developer (salary.com)
- 7 Reasons In-House Software Fails
- 5 Reasons Why Building Your Own Software Solution is Not a Good Idea
- What to Expect When You’re Developing Software in House
- Ask Yourself These Questions Before Developing Software In-House