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Build vs. buy – the new software standard

12/14/2017

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Adding software is inevitable for any business, no matter how simple or complex the organization is. The idea is to “work smarter, not harder”, and with today’s innovation, many processes are best solved by automation.

The question is, is it better to build or to buy? There are pros and cons to each…Building comes with hefty development and maintenance costs. Buying software can be a cookie-cutter experience, which may not satisfy all needs.

Looking to build? A few key things to keep front of mind

If your organization has programming staff or access to a reputable consulting firm (ahem….like us!) Building software is a great option.

Keep in mind though, building software comes with its own unique set of challenges, such as:

  • Security – especially user roles and privileges – securing data and the application from hacking, the environment, and so forth
  • Audit logging
  • Managing unstructured content that surrounds processes
  • Another database needing administration
  • Constant maintenance requiring staffing and expertise

Developing software, expertise and processes to cover these needs are where the costs can really creep up.

Looking to buy? We’ve got some great advice for you

Because hidden costs are a gamble some management isn’t willing to take, another option is to research an existing solution that hits the needs of your organization, in the most cost-effective way as possible. In addition to the software cost and maintenance, there are additional costs to consider:

  • Managing the database, servers, network connectivity, devices, and so forth may bring the need for additional administration staff
    • SaaS can reduce this cost significantly
  • Limitations of applications can reduce the maximum automation potential
    • Value is lost if you only use half of the features the software offers
  • Productivity can be lost by the need to frequently contact the vendor for enhancements or troubleshooting issues

As we said, there are pros and cons to each solution, and these are all important factors you need to weigh before making your decision.

A new standard for building

There is a third option, believe it or not. Enterprise content management (ECM) systems can be the answer to both the cost and challenge of adding new software. They are configurable platforms that let you build software solutions on top of significant infrastructure.

ECM systems provide support for key build-development issues: Security, audit logging and support for unstructured content. They are extremely flexible platforms, enabling you to model the necessary business data and user experience you need.

And with the best of these products, you handle all of this through configuration, not custom programming.

An integrated collection of solutions

Because ECM products are solution development platforms, the expectation is that you will craft multiple solutions on top of them. Each solution and its assets (data structures, process flows, and user experiences) are then accessible for every future solution.

Data integration is done with configuration, not custom code. This gives the flexibility to bring solutions together and easily build a 360-degree view of anything. And with configurable integration capabilities, solutions can be tied into data within the main lines of business where they are the system of record.

Reducing the complexity of your future

Investing in ECM can reduce overall software product purchasing plans. It easily eliminates the need for custom integration thought-process that you are writing today to blend and commingle data from disparate software solutions. ECM significantly reduces the challenges in buying – and integrating – new software.

The promise of ECM

Although ECM vendors and their products are all different, the general promise is that with ECM you will reduce the total cost of ownership and complexity of the software solutions you are managing and will add to the mix over time. The mature ECM infrastructure makes it easy to build exactly what you need for much less expense, time and project risk.

If you’re ready to give your company a competitive advantage in content management, please contact us at info@lbmctech.com for more information.