To Build or To Buy


The question of whether to build or buy a staffing automation solution is an ongoing discussion. Organizations of all sizes are tasked with increasing efficiency and revenues in a timely manner. Naturally this leads then to consider automation. The critical question then becomes:

Is it more beneficial to build a custom staffing automation solution or to buy an existing application?

Overwhelmingly, organizations have proven that buying a solution results in greater value and success. There are several reasons why organizations are choosing to buy solutions: certainty of development and implementation costs; the ability to deploy quickly; predictable maintenance and support costs; assurance of best practices; and staying focused on their core business.

Known Costs

What are the costs associated with building your own staffing automation solution? This is a critical question that, unfortunately, is often grossly underestimated. The cost of development is difficult to estimate at the outset of a project. The internal resources allocated, project costs and time will vary. On the other hand, a purchased solution has a known cost that can accurately be budgeted for. An added benefit is the opportunity to preview the solution’s capability and features in advance.

Quick Deployment

Rapid deployment is critical if you want to begin realizing benefits immediately. Building your own staffing automation solution can take time, which means adapting to a rapidly changing technology, environments and staff. It always takes longer and is more expensive to design and build a solution from scratch than originally planned. Often the homegrown solution becomes obsolete before it is even completed, while a purchased solution can generally be up and running in less than a month. Customizing a purchased solution to meet an organization’s particular needs can also be done quickly.

Predictable Maintenance/Support Costs

Building an in-house solution requires staff to take care of the overall maintenance and upgrades. Again, costs associated with this can be difficult to estimate. Further, keeping pace with technological advancements is very time consuming and challenging and takes critical staff away from the organization’s core business. Maintenance and support for a homegrown application requires continual development, training and maintenance of staff with the skills to keep up with constant and rapid changes of technology. Maintaining a purchased time management solution is a predictable cost that does not staff away from a business’s core competency. The solution vendor has invested the time and resources required to provide expert support for the solution throughout its life cycle.

Rely on the experts

Building your own solution generally requires recruiting, reallocating and/or contracting a variety of technical resources. Although this type of solution may appear easy to create on the surface there are many aspects, including approval workflow, information security for pay rates and project completion times, and human factors that are highly complex, especially in combination. Whereas buying a professionally developed solution ensures that you have the benefits of industry experts with years of specialized experience in design and development to their credit. The vendor can leverage this industry experience and add a variety of best practice functionality to the product. An established vendor has experience gained from similar projects. Such experience is difficult to come by for a single company.

Focus on your core business

Building a homegrown application requires money, staff and time spent away from the organization’s core business. Again and again business gurus from a variety of industries remind organizations to stay focused on their core business to reduce costs and increase value. Purchasing a professionally developed solution allows an organization to stay focused on their core business while saving money, increasing revenues and gaining the added benefits of a partnership with an experienced solution provider.

Still not sure whether to build or buy?

There are a few critical questions to consider when determining whether to build or buy.

Can the solution be purchased?

If the answer is yes, then buy. Years ago there were a limited number of options for time management solutions and/or they were not available at all. However today there are a number of excellent solutions for organizations to consider.

What is the best use of development resources?

Developers in an organization are more effectively utilized building core system functionality than spending time on solutions that can be purchased.

Will the available solutions meet the organization’s specialized needs?

Generally one will find that the vendors offer products that are designed to deal with common situations and issues. As a result one should not be overly concerned with the idea that the organization’s needs are unique.

Does the solution or function add competitive edge or advantage?

If this were the case, then absolutely the solution should not be built. If not, which is almost always the case when considering staffing automation solutions, then by all means buy it!