I remember a time when “build vs. buy” was a decision a company would consider for nearly every software purchase decision. Put yourself in the shoes of tech and business executives several years ago. Choices were limited: you could choose vanilla or chocolate software packages for CRM, ERP or MRP vendors. You had a limited range of tools at your disposal to automate your specific business need. If, for example, you bought a software package, you could either customize – risking the inability to safely upgrade the product – or you conformed your business processes to fit the software. In hindsight, no one won when faced with those scenarios. Luckily, we’ve entered an age when companies can have the best of both worlds. Through advances made in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), we are now able to consider just the right balance of build (customization) and buy (out-of-the-box) to suit your needs.
As a business software consultant that relies heavily on Salesforce technologies for my clients, I see several game-changing and proven advantages that Salesforce offers over the old “build vs. buy” options:
- Future-proof customization: Businesses can purchase a Salesforce subscription that is explicitly designed to be customized. In the old days, companies may have customized their projects as necessary to meet their specific customer needs. But then the inevitable would happen: a new version of the software at hand would be needed….so teams would spend countless man-hours creating workarounds or dismantling existing customizations to support the latest software iteration. Salesforce protects your investment by automatically pushing out upgrades multiple times a year, within a matter of minutes. That means your project, customizations and all can quickly and easily upgrade without requiring workarounds or time consuming rework.
- Add-on functionality: If it turns out that additional functionality is required, companies can simply choose to purchase pre-integrated or native SaaS apps from the Salesforce AppExchange to add functionality, or they have the option to build that functionality themselves in a rich development environment. You’re not bound to one avenue or the other.
- No depreciation: Finally, there is no depreciation to consider. Some technologies start to get old the moment you sign the contract. With SaaS, you pay up-front for the service that manages the information to drive your business. If it doesn’t deliver, extract your data and import into the next system. If it doesn’t fill your requirements, you can cancel at the end of your contract period. No more “we bought it, so now we have to use it”. You can start small with Salesforce and test it out, then slowly add users and functionality as it makes sense.
With these capabilities, it’s no wonder we have gone from a world where one or two sizes had to fit all to a world where each instance of Salesforce is unique to every business of every size. This pace of change and innovation isn’t slowing down any time soon, so I look forward to helping my clients stay ahead of the curve. We’ll cover more of these questions around build vs. buy in future posts. Let me know if you have any of your own “tales from the crypt “- i.e. lessons learned along the way – that you’d like to share with your peers.