Build vs. Buy: Beware of the Build

Long before companies start evaluating solutions, the desire to build vs. buy is based on a corporate culture that some IT leaders may not want to hand control over to other entities for fear that solutions may be more of a black box, come with more than they need or offer little ability to tweak or customize. A lot of IT professionals would prefer to have more intimate control over resources, how the tech works, etc. Not to mention, for an IT technologist building can be more fun and exciting. However, building and operating your own solution is no walk in the park. In this blog post, we’re taking a closer look at some pitfalls and cautionary tales of building your own tech. Keep reading to learn more!

You’re Not Amazon

Yes, Amazon is a great example of build in action. The foundation of the company was built on the concept of using technology to drive the economy of scale around selling all the products in the world to any individual and getting into their home as quickly as possible. As a result, Amazon built a massive organization of technologists. We can all agree that Amazon has crushed it in the build scenario, but it has required a significant amount of capital investment and trust from investors and Wall Street that the company would actually become profitable someday. That’s not a realistic scenario for most companies.

You Haven’t Thought Beyond the First Use Case

People generally underestimate the amount of investment required because they only evaluate the first use case. (Because everything always seems so simple through the lens of the first use case.) Once you deploy beyond that use case you open yourself up to a cascading, exponentially growing set of variables in your environment that are going to influence what you need to do next, and only the most disciplined individuals can actually avoid having to support that.

Time is relative; effort is relative; investment is relative, but you will probably underestimate how much time it’s going to take; how many people it’ going to take; how many experts it’s going to take your first go round.

You Don’t Have the Expertise

The expertise component is something that often gets undervalued and overlooked as well. People tend to assume that any technologist can apply his or her wares to any technology, but there are technologies in the cloud space that require years of expertise in order to operate at scale, especially within a very large organization that has a lot of customer engagement, a lot of traffic or a lot of transactions per second.


You Don’t Have the Resources to Operate at Scale

There’s a big difference between building something and operating it at scale. You may have figured out how you’re going to build exactly what your organization is looking for, but do you have a plan and the resources to deal with things when they go wrong? And things will go wrong; it’s software. How will you respond to worst case scenarios? Who is going to be responsible for that? If your plan is to figure things out as you go, you probably biting off more than you realize.

You Don’t Have A Plan for Employee Turnover

Employees will inevitably leave your organization. This turnover creates a great deal of technical debt related to a lack of knowledge about how code was written or how it worked. As personnel changes over time, the stuff your organization had built will become unrecognizable and unusable to the new people in the organization.

Keep in mind that the innovations you build today are likely to become someone else’s pain in the future. It’s hard to imagine that you won’t always support your current organization, but it’s crucial that you think long term when building an infrastructure to ensure it’s going to evolve with the company after you and your team are no longer there.

In the data management space and the martech space there are many companies with a high level of expertise using and leveraging specific technologies to solve specific problems for your organization. In some cases, they’ve invested hundreds of millions of dollars in perfecting, managing, deploying and operationalizing these technologies. However, some organizations decide to build their own custom solutions with similar tech without recognizing the amount of investment that they would need to make in order to be experts at that technology. Avoid that mess and eliminate technical debt by partnering with the best companies in the world across different domains.