A CIO recently asked me what guidelines I use when consulting on a build vs buy decision. This is a fair question considering Volano Solutions is a premier custom software developer in Omaha.
My answer: only build custom software when it makes sense. By this I mean if you can purchase good software to satisfy your need, you shouldn’t build. Volano wouldn’t advise a customer to “build GoToMeeting”, but many times building custom software is the right choice. Here are three considerations:
Using software as a competitive advantage. If you’re using software as a utility, gaining a competitive advantage is not likely. For instance, everyone has email, so custom building a better email system isn’t going to give you a leg up on the competition. However, if your business involves managing a complex workflow process, like auditing medical records or installing water filtration systems around the globe, then a custom software system can put you ahead of the competition. Volano has built both systems and a good number more. We can attest that solutions like these allow companies to be highly specialized and very efficient. Would-be competitors cannot purchase off-the-shelf software and play in the same league.
Package software products don’t always fit the need. In our formative days, Volano used BaseCamp to track details about our projects, including our time entries. We quickly found the software didn’t allow us to effectively report our time. We couldn’t easily see actuals vs estimates. There were other irritations too. It became obvious that we needed to create our own system for managing project details and so we did. We call the system “Timefly,” and it is central to all aspects of our business. Timefly allows Volano to run effectively and efficiently across multiple teams, without the use of whiteboards or spreadsheets.
A simplified, native, tailored approach is preferred. Software should be easy to use, but if the software is ‘everything to everyone’ then ease-of-use is lost in a sea of buttons and un-used fields. Custom software is, by definition, tailor fit. Software is much more approachable when it is distilled to its requisite functions, and it is built from the ground up around your unique business processes.
Check out this post if you’re interested in 4 symptoms that your business needs software in the first place.
June 13, 2023
Data is like a vast set of building blocks, each has different shapes, sizes, and colors. Just like each brick has its unique utility, every piece of data carries a unique piece of information. As a business owner, how can you possibly start understanding what all the pieces of data from those fancy reports mean? […]
June 2, 2023
For small manufacturing companies with less than 100 employees and revenues of around $20–50 million, several key factors contribute to their success. Here are some important considerations: By focusing on these key factors, small manufacturing companies can enhance their competitiveness, achieve sustainable growth, and maintain profitability. It’s important to adapt these factors to the specific […]
June 1, 2023
Several years ago, I was working on a product that required some attention from the software product teams. This happens to all software over time because a user’s needs change, features need to be added, and bugs happen (naturally). The undertaking was large enough, so our team agreed it would be ideal to talk with […]
May 30, 2023
There’s an ongoing debate: custom software versus off-the-shelf Software as a Service (SaaS). A few misconceptions tend to cloud everyone’s judgment and influence decisions in this area. It’s time to put these myths to rest and bring clarity to the conversation. Myth 1: Custom Software is Outdated Custom software is inherently outdated, which couldn’t be […]
March 15, 2023
Why continue to utilize a mess of spreadsheets to run your operations? We think there’s a better way. Here are the top 7 reasons you should switch to custom software.
February 3, 2023
Wait. What’s the problem again? Several years ago I was working in Healthcare for a tech startup. At the time, healthcare systems could not bill patients until a chart was signed off and locked by a provider (MD, PA, or NP). The provider had to step through every single screen and check a box regardless […]