Buying BI

The Great BI Debate: Build vs Buy

By Logi Analytics
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For the traditional IT group, the decision to “buy vs build” is fairly straight forward.  Does the application I’m looking to buy provide the minimum necessary functionality to support the business problem I need to solve? Or, does my IT group have the resources and expertise to build the minimum necessary functionality to support the business problem that I need to solve?  Moreover, does the IT department have the resources and expertise to maintain and upgrade the “build” application as time moves forward?

Calculating and balancing the cost of each option becomes an exercise in scoping and mathematics. However, when you expand the “buy” application to a “buy” platform the decision takes on a new light.

Let’s take a look at some of the topics of the decision:

“Buy” options:

  • An “Out of the Box” application that can be bolted into place within the IT structure that immediately exposes features and functionality the business requires
  • An “Application Platform” that can be used to create the application with fractional effort of the “build from scratch” option

“Build” Options:

  • Building the solution from a development platform, such as Java or .NET in C#
  • Building the solution from an application platform
  • Building with a 3rd party consulting firm doing the development

Feature Sets
At the end of the process (buy or build), the software will need to deliver a feature set that supplies value.  Business problems can be very specific and “out of the box” software tends to be very generic.  This can lead to a gap between the desired feature set and the delivered feature set – solving some, but not all, of the intended problems.

On the other hand, “build” software can contain literally all of the functionality the business requires.   However, “build” software takes time, expertise and process to develop, while “out of the box software” can be up and running in a faction of development.

Ongoing Maintenance
Once the software is in place, it must be maintained.  Maintenance includes a wide range of topics that fall into three major categories:  bug fixes, technology upgrades and feature enhancements.

Bug fixes: Software has to be so diverse today that bugs will almost always be exposed over time.  Reliable and timely bug fixes are a requirement.

Tech upgrades: Technology will continue to change over time.  JSON is an example of relatively new standard that has gained wide spread adoption in a very short period of time. Who knows when and where the next big thing will come from?  When it does, your software must adapt to it.

Enhancements: Business changes are inevitable and the software must offer new features and benefits on an ongoing basis.

For software to provide value, it must constantly adapt to these every changing maintenance challenges.

So how do companies develop and maintain meaningful software that provides the necessary specific business value?  This is the question that has plagued IT departments since the beginning of time.

The solution is Application Platforms.

The Balanced Solution: Application Platforms
Application Platforms provide the vast feature set required to solve complex business problems while also providing a substantially shorter deployment time. Development can be in-house or off shore.  It’s incumbent on the platform owner to keep up with technology changes and responds to the demands of the market.

Application Platforms offer the best of both worlds in the “Build vs Buy” issue.  You can build the app with the feature set your business requires, get the software into production quickly, and adapt as business and technology change.

Interested in learning more? Watch a webinar hosted by Logi customer Unionware where they outlined their thought-process and approach on building versus buying, as well as their end result.



Originally published June 17, 2015; updated on August 9th, 2017

About the Author

Logi Analytics is the leader in embedded analytics. We help team put business intelligence at the core of their organizations and products.