Enterprise software: when to build instead of buy

While you definitely don’t want to reinvent the wheel by investing into custom software to replace robust SaaS alternatives, there are times when building your own solution is the way to go.

The ever-expanding enterprise technology landscape has more to offer than ever before. The immense digitization acceleration since 2020 has led to an exponential growth of commercial business software.

While enterprise tech stacks grow in complexity to support digital resiliency, their composition is never limited to off-the-shelf solutions. In spite of all the innovation on SaaS providers’ part, the digital age calls for such a level of competitor differentiation that enterprises’ appetite for innovation remains insatiable.

This is where custom software development comes into play. In this article I’m going to outline the 4 scenarios when turning to bespoke solutions is the right answer.

1. Business process automation

Automating menial, repetitive and tedious tasks to increase productivity is one of the great goals of enterprise software in general. Still, some of your organization's internal processes or workflows may not be readily supported by off-the-shelf systems in your stack.

This is especially true for complex processes spanning across several teams and systems. A dedicated, bespoke solution designed and developed specifically for the way you work may possibly save your company a lot of time and money. Quite often this kind of a project is going to include making some of your existing systems talk to each other, which brings us to the next point.

2. Systems integration

Software that’s walled off from one another is only getting half of the job done, as it imposes extra manual work on your teams like data downloads/uploads between systems. To make things worse, this additional effort is prone to human error, which can compromise your data integrity.

Even though SaaS vendors continuously introduce new built-in integrations for their products, it’s impossible for them to cater to all tech stack variations out there. Making software talk to other software is tough, especially that integrations need to be maintained over time as the respective systems evolve.

That’s why businesses need to take this burden upon their shoulders and own their custom developed integrations. Fortunately, API technology is more robust than ever thanks to GraphQL, a new tech stack layer that unlocks data across the organization and transforms the way teams interact with one another. In fact, systems integration is just one of the many reasons why enterprises adopt GraphQL, which has seen a continuous rise in popularity over the past few years.

3. Legacy system modernization

Being at the forefront of digital transformation, enterprises often need to deal with out-dated custom software. This ultimately boils down to a choice between migrating to a new, off-the-shelf solution or modernizing the existing system.

Replacing that legacy system with a SaaS isn’t exactly easy and is likely to force your organization to adapt your current workflows to match those imposed by the OTS solution. On the other hand, custom software modernization projects are inherently high-risk too and can take considerably more time to implement.

However, this risk can be effectively mitigated with the right approach that encompasses applying modular software architecture, Spec-Driven development, and automated testing. Modernizing your legacy application will allow your organization to continue reaping the benefits of having a custom solution. What’s more, this will also enable and supercharge the system’s continuous improvement.

4. Competitive advantage

In the ongoing quest for innovation, you may find yourself having a need that’s not met by any software product on the market. In fact, that’s when you know you’re onto something.

This original idea is a possible starting point for your company to gain a competitive advantage through custom software. When done right, this bespoke solution could be a game-changer for your business.

Going from vision to execution is a tricky one though. That’s where having the right development partner is going to make all the difference. This sort of technical solution to business challenges requires not just good developers but also digital architects and seasoned software engineers skilled in software architecture and design.

If your company is looking for a partner to collaborate on unique software with a competitive-edge, make sure to check their solution ideation and validation capabilities.

Let me know if you have any questions or thoughts in the comments below.

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We at Xolvio specialize in helping our clients get more for less. We can get you to the holy grail of continuous deployment where every commit can go to production — and yes, even for large enterprises.

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