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Written on 14th June 2019 - 3 minutes

Build or buy? The data software systems debate.

Build v Buy

The decision has been taken to update your software system (never one to be taken lightly). The requirements are done and the spec is written. What next?

Now one of the toughest decisions you face is whether to build or buy your system! This is a contested topic often full of complicated jargon and contradicting claims as everyone battles to sell you their ‘perfect’ solution!

Having been through all, and part, of systems development and implementation with our clients on many occasions, we can help by shedding some light here on the decision-making process and potentially save you some valuable time and a lot of painstaking research.

Build or buy? To help you choose the system that best suits your business needs, we’ve listed some of the pros and cons of each.


If there are existing products out there with the functionality to meet your requirements, off-the-shelf software may be the solution for you.

The pros:

  • This route offers a lower entry price and for internal, non-business critical systems an off-the-shelf solution can be very cost-effective.
  • It is generally quicker and easier to implement causing minimal business disruption.
  • Significantly functionality testing has already been carried out by someone else so you don’t have to put in the extra hours.
  • Research and development and bug fixing sits with the software owner, so your business doesn’t have to cough-up the extra.

The cons:

  • The software may fit your business now, but you have no control over the road map of the system going forward.
  • You can’t simply just add another user or add additional modules to the system of pre-existing software as your business activity grows.
  • When fixing glitches, you are totally reliant on the software supplier and can’t take matters within your own hands.
  • Complex licensing agreements can be difficult to control and very costly when they are out of your hands.


If you are looking for a more personalised experience and don’t want to settle for a part-solution based on what’s available, you can choose to build a tailored software data system instead.

The Pros:

  • Bespoke systems do tend to cost more, however the investment usually offers better ROI due to downstream adaptation and upgrade costs being lower.
  • The data systems are functionally tailored around your business and you control what happens going forward removing the need for additional costly modules that may only then be a part fit.
  • Bespoke systems which are client facing are far better at representing your individual brand and simply by being bespoke, offer you a USP amongst competitors.
  • Work on bespoke systems is often eligible for R&D tax credits which can help to offset a proportion of the cost of the system.

The Cons:

  • Bespoke systems usually cost more than off the shelf solutions.
  • There is often a longer lead time for implementation and before ROI is realised.
  • The R&D behind a bespoke system can be time consuming and costly.
  • Testing has to be carried out at your time and expense to ensure that the software system is perfect for your business needs.

Plenty to think about therefore! We hope your business-brain is a little less clouded and opportunities to improve your software systems are on the horizon.

Software Solved specialises in custom and bespoke development, data visualisation and insurance risk management systems, delivering over 1000 successful IT projects since 1998. If you’d like to view a FREE webinar we held on this subject entitled Build v Buy: choosing your next software systems supplier.

If you have any more pressing systems requirements that need  talking through now, contact us on 01392 453344 or We’re happy to have a chat.

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