...At a crossroads: To buy or build

Always an age-old question of whether to build or to buy software solutions. Some business owners jump very quickly to custom, because they believe they have very unique business needs. Others turn their attention to commercial-off-the-shelf to take advantage of lower up-front costs and economies of scale. Regardless of the path you choose for your business, it is critical that assessment and planning be given their due diligence. Rushing into an IT investment decision without a firm understanding of all business and technical requirements can be disastrous, costly and have long lasting impacts on your business.  The most common reasons why software projects fail include the following:

  • Poor Requirements Definition
  • Insufficient resourcing / overtasking of internal resources
  • Insufficient planning and governance

For these reasons many organizations turn to software vendors for guidance, who can make matters worse due to their natural bias. At the end of the day they measure their success on selling their platform and services to you; when the success of your initiative should be measured on how well your business needs are being met.

The process for defining your requirements and selecting or designing a system is not complicated, but it is involved and requires careful consideration.

  1. Understand the inner workings of your business, its parts, its processes, and how it functions holistically.
  2. Document the requirements for the system in question across your entire company, partner organizations, and/or customers.
  3. Now that you are armed with your requirements you face the decision: Shall I build (Custom Development) or Buy (Commercial off the Shelf)?  Armed with a “blueprint” of what a custom development effort will require, you can receive an accurate quote on a custom solution.
  4. This same blueprint can serve as the input for vendor selection criteria, and the generation of a Request for Proposal (RFP), which are all core elements to successfully executing on a vendor selection process.
  5. The final step is implementation.  Regardless if you build or buy, the implementation and roll-out of any new system will present another significant challenge to your business.  Careful planning will help your organization keep the implementation process smooth.  It is important to understand how your organization will conduct training, measure adoption, change management, setting of success metrics, monitoring and optimization.

In conclusion, choosing software for your organization is a sensitive undertaking.  Understanding your underlying business need before you begin the process is critical to success.  So whether this is the first time you are buying a system or you feel like you have tried every solution there is, follow the process and your investment will pay off.


Mranda Technologies Limited
P.O. Box 13271 – 00100 Nairobi, Kenya
Tel (254) 721 521 159 / 701 482 230
Sonalux House 7th Floor - Suite 2, Moi Avenue.
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