Enterprise Industrial Software: Ready-made vs. In-house Development
To keep operations running smoothly, every company needs to invest in technology. In fact, from small businesses to large corporations with complex processes and a large workforce, technology is fundamental to achieve success.
When it comes to software and technology, it is very common for companies to choose ready-made solutions and modify them to better address their internal processes. Other companies choose to develop solutions internally from the ground up to meet 100% of their needs.
In both options, the intention is to have software that is customized to meet the specific needs of the organization as opposed to compromising with off-the-shelf, one-size-fits-all solutions.
Which approach is right for you? Consider the pros and cons of each.
Internal Software Development
Developing your own software can be costly and can take months or even years to complete. In-house software requires a significant amount of development time with a long period of requirements analysis, software design and development, then testing.
Once a new software solution is rolled out, it is common to encounter errors and technical flaws as time goes on. These software issues or bugs can lead to low performance and jeopardize work until such issues are dealt with to a satisfactory level.
Therefore, it is only worth developing your software internally if you already have the structure and resources to maintain and evolve the software overtime.
Additional considerations for internal software development:
Level of Complexity
Software development requires knowledge in the business requirements and in good software design principles such as usability, performance, and reliability.
It is necessary to have these processes clearly thought-out, especially in the early planning stages.
Customizing the solution may be necessary to adapt and integrate the software with your existing systems and production processes. The more processes involved, the greater the complexity and the need for resources with advanced software development knowledge and skills.
The time required when developing your own solution cannot be underestimated. Going through stages such as planning, development, testing, and on-going bug fixes and maintenance. A considerable amount of time can pass until you have a solution that works in practice.
Companies need to deliver services or products as quickly as possible to reach their customers and earn money. Therefore, the factor of time is decisive when choosing the best approach.
Solutions developed internally often lack the ease-of-use of solutions that have been fully vetted in use. With a lack of intuitive function, the ending solution may require more user training and see lower adoption rates as a result.
To achieve high usability, you need to conduct usability testing and hire specialists, even if temporarily, which will add to the costs and time for internal development.
Hiring developer’s or assembling an internal software development team can be a significant cost to the choice of developing your own custom software.
Ready-made software will cost less and can make more financial sense for a company with limited budgets.
If your company does not have a team of developers with the necessary skills to build custom software, it is a good idea to evaluate other options.
In addition, when you develop software internally, the solution is dependent on the people who developed it. That is, if the person or team responsible leaves the company, it may be hard to carry out continuous maintenance and make improvements. Typically, only the original development team know how modify the solution without breaking the current functionality, causing major performance issues, or losing data.
Many people think that because software has no physical components, it does not wear out or need maintenance. But the software world is always evolving with the opportunities for taking advantage of the latest advancements. In addition, software needs to be updated to continually close security issues for the latest threats along with making changes triggered by a connected system.
Rarely does a software program operate in a silo, it is generally connected with various systems to exchange data. It is common for these connections to get broken if one of the links in the chain of information is changed.
A historical example is Apple when they launched a new iPhone version and an update of their iOS operating system. More than 200,000 applications designed by third parties stopped working. Why? The software companies did not update their apps to continue working with the updated Apple operating system.
If you develop your own software, it needs to be maintained to continue to work with all the systems you have today: servers, backup systems, support, databases, etc.
With ready-made software, maintenance is performed by the vendor who is keeping track of the updates coming from the other systems connected to it.
Today, companies responsible for major operating systems and solutions, such as Apple, communicate information on their system updates in advance. This allows software developers to be prepared to make any necessary software design changes, test and roll-out their updates in time to avoid disruption with their clients.
To maintain your own software applications, YOUR team will be required to continually evaluate and respond to updates in connected systems. If you are hiring external developers, this will mean an on-going development cost beyond the initial investment in the development of the custom software.
Changes in the Technology Market
Platforms tend to change quickly, and it is difficult for companies to keep up with these changes.
If your company makes large investments in a custom software solution and it loses relevance, all that work is lost.
If a ready-made solution loses relevance, you can cancel the subscription and pursue another solution that suits your business better at that point in time. The costs will be less, both on the financial side and in the time spent.
By analyzing all these factors, you should be able to weigh the benefits and risks of building software internally as compared to pursuing a ready-made solution in the market.
It is likely a better use of your company resources to focus on your core business than it is to develop custom software that will be used in very specific ways. The on-going software maintenance alone can be a resource drain. Your business may need to prioritize these resources for more important initiatives in the future.
Return on Investment
The time it takes to see a return on your investment (ROI) in developing custom software in-house will be significantly longer than if you buy a ready-made solution. Most ready-made solutions can be deployed quickly, even within a few weeks. You can quickly see the promised improvements of the software in use which can lead to a return on your investment in terms of months vs. years.
Advantages of Ready-made Software
Choosing to purchase off-the-shelf software and adapt it to your needs is a common option pursued by most companies these days due to the reduction in costs and increased success in results.
Your company is a constantly evolving organization and therefore, it requires a solution that can adapt and grow according to your business’ growth.
Here are the main advantages of this model:
Constant Evolution and Maintenance
Whenever there is a need to add new routine tasks, perform maintenance, create new functionalities, make updates and corrections, the software company will always be ready to assist you, because that is their expertise.
As we mentioned earlier, creating an internal development team demands several resources, some with specialized skills and knowledge.
The costs will be much lower when pursuing ready-made software. The savings can be invested in other opportunities and allows you to maintain your focus on your core business.
A company specialized in providing ready-made software has experienced teams and employs the best planning techniques, development, management, and maintenance procedures. As a result, you can be better assured of the quality, performance, and on-going viability of the final result.
Integrated solutions enable your team to work faster and in a smarter way. Providers of ready-made software both design and maintain their software to ensure your organization gains the benefit of seamless, connected systems without forcing users to switch apps to complete tasks.
Look for ready-made solutions that are certified to integrate with your systems of record. Certified solutions have been fully tested to maintain data quality and can deliver higher performance in the exchange of data increasing the productivity of the data users.
Find the Approach that Best Suits Your Needs
As we mentioned earlier, investing in technology is fundamental for standing out in the market and increasing work productivity. However, the choice between creating software in-house vs. purchasing a ready-made solution depends a lot on your business’ demands and possibilities.
This article has highlighted the potential benefits of working with a software vendor with ready-made software, developed and maintained by specialists. A vendor with expertise in a functional area that can work with you to adapt the software to meet your specific expectations and needs including complex integrations and scale requirements.
It is key to find strategic partners who develop technologies suited to your needs.
Learn How Sigga Can Help Your Business
Experience is a great teacher. For 20 years, Sigga has honed customers’ SAP asset management and industrial maintenance processes with productivity solutions. Our work has gained the trust of global industry giants, such as ABInbev, Bunge, Petrobras, and Saint-Gobain.
With Sigga solutions, you can eliminate unproductive tasks by optimizing data flows, mobilizing maintenance routines, and digitizing paper business processes. Sigga's EAM Product Suite greatly streamlines your asset management workflow, so your business can surpass your core performance and productivity goals.