Why Buy Software vs. Building or Partnering?

Dan Ward and  Ira Brooker    November 7th, 2023

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There is no such thing as a static business. Any business that isn’t constantly changing, growing, and evolving to keep pace with trends and technology is unlikely to last very long. The past several years have provided a number of clear illustrations of why organizations need a clear plan for how to accommodate growth. Shifts in workplace culture brought on by the pandemic, changes in regulatory compliance, and rapid advancements in technology are just a few of the factors that can impact the growth and development of a modern business.

Software solutions frequently play a major role in an organization’s plans for growth, even in industries that are not focused on technology or IT. No matter your industry, growing to keep pace requires speedy development and delivery across multiple channels, attention to privacy and data security, personalized communication with customers and suppliers, and other key functions that can be greatly improved with the help of dedicated software solutions.

How exactly to implement those solutions is an important question for businesses to think about. There are generally three main options to consider:

While the option that works best for your organization will ultimately depend on your industry, goals, and existing internal systems, this article will make the case for buying a proven software solution from a trusted supplier.

Build vs. Buy vs. Partner in Enterprise Software

Let’s take a closer look at those three options and explore what each one entails, the advantages each presents, and some of the situations and conditions that may lead an organization to choose one over the others.

Option 1: Buying Software

Buying software may sound like a straightforward concept, but it can be a complicated process that requires serious thought about your organization’s specific needs, goals, and resources. Choosing the right software for your business may require some shopping around to find the features, price point, and integration that make the best fit. Be sure to look for an established, reputable vendor with a proven track record in your industry.

When Should You Buy Software? 

More so than building or partnering, buying software is a viable option for nearly any business. Purchasing software from a reputable third-party provider is an especially appealing option for organizations that:   

Need a quick solution that will work right out of the box       

Have limited budget for a long-term project

Lack the in-house skills or resources to build their own solution

Have the flexibility to integrate a new solution into existing systems    

Why Buy Software for Enterprise?

For an enterprise business dealing in high volumes of documents and transactions, buying software from a trusted supplier is often the best course of action due to the speed, ease of use, and adaptability of a pre-built software solution. Key advantages of buying software rather than building a solution or partnering with another organization include:

Faster implementation. Buying a solution that has been professionally vetted, designed for easy integration with existing systems, and successfully employed by other organizations allows a faster transition to a new system.

Affordability. While high-quality software solutions can be a costly initial investment, they are generally far more affordable than the complicated processes of building a solution in-house or creating a formal partnership.

Flexibility. If a purchased solution turns out to be a less-than-ideal fit for your organization, moving on to another option that better suits your needs is much easier and less expensive than scrapping a partnership or a newly built solution.

Less disruption. Building a solution internally is often a long and stressful process. Launching a new partnership involves changes in company culture and personnel. Buying a proven solution is less disruptive to your employees and existing processes.

Customer support. If issues or questions arise with a purchased software solution, a reputable supplier will have a customer support team ready to work with your organization to get things resolved.

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If you’ve decided that buying a proven software solution from a reliable supplier is the right path for your company, MHC offers full-service CCM solutions that automate and streamline communications from end-to-end. The MHC EngageCX platform provides robust solutions from document development to distribution and analytics.
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Option 2: Building Software

For enterprise businesses with a large IT and tech infrastructure, building a software solution in-house is always a consideration. Building your own software gives a business unparalleled control over the creative process and results in a proprietary system that is unique to your company. While the scope and time investment involved with this approach puts it out of most organizations’ plans, it remains an appealing option for an organization with the means to make it happen.

When Should You Build Software?

Building software in-house will probably not be a strong option for smaller businesses without a large and experienced tech team. A software build may be worth considering for high-volume enterprise organizations that have:

A large and experienced in-house IT team

Specific software needs that are not easily met by third-party vendors

Flexibility to take some risks with their tech

Time to commit to what can be a lengthy building process

Why Build Software for Enterprise?

While building software in-house often comes with more risks and unpredictable outcomes than buying a solution from a trusted supplier, it also offers some notable advantages for enterprise businesses that have the personnel and experience to make it happen. Some of those advantages include:

Proprietary software. Building a solution in-house gives your organization the competitive advantage of a unique software system with industry-specific functions that competing businesses can’t offer.

Personalization. Building your own software allows your team to tailor functionality to meet the specific needs of your business and your customers. It can also make it easier for your team to add features as those needs evolve.

Smooth integration. A software solution that is designed specifically to integrate with your business’s overall operations will often integrate more easily with internal systems than a solution designed by an outside party.

Employee engagement. Building an in-house solution provides a unique opportunity for employees to offer feedback and guidance, as well as a sense of ownership and pride for the team creating the solution.

Cost-efficiency. Since your organization controls the build, you have the flexibility to tailor the budget to meet your business’s financial realities. (On the other hand, building in-house can also lead to unpredictable budget overruns.)

Option 3: Partnering with the Right Software

An organization with a strong network of connections may look into procuring a software solution by partnering with another business that provides the specific products or services they need. This approach appeals largely because it provides expert knowledge of a ready-to-use software solution, with considerably less risk than an in-house build and more hands-on guidance than purchasing from a third-party provider.

When Should You Partner with the Right Software?

Partnering with another organization whose software meets your needs can be a quick solution, although it isn’t an approach that works for every business model or budget. Seeking out a partner may be a feasible route if your organization:

Lacks the in-house skills or resources to build their own solution

Does not wish to risk investing in an unproven solution

Is interested in other facets of a partnership beyond software

Needs a solution that is ready to work immediately

Why Partner with Software for Enterprise?

While integrating new software by forming a partnership with another organization is less of a risk than some other options, it also requires adaptability and commitment that not every business can afford. Identifying the right partner for your organization can be challenging, but some of its advantages include:

Speedy implementation. Partnering with an organization that already has a proven software solution and a workforce who knows how to operate it allows for fast integration and adoption of new processes.

Less risk. In the event that a software solution does not work out for your organization, forming a partnership helps to reduce the impact and opens more avenues to work toward a resolution together.

More expertise. Partnering with an organization with an established software solution means working alongside a team that knows how to use it. That helps reduce the learning curve for your employees.

Future possibilities. A partnership initiated by a software solution can lead to other opportunities for your organizations to work together. Depending on your industry, this can open many useful doors for future collaboration.

Industry credibility. Working in partnership with an organization that is recognized as a leader in its industry helps to establish more credibility for your business, and for the software systems you both rely on.

Build vs. Buy vs. Partner Analysis
What’s the Right Decision for Your Company?

Every organization has its own specific software needs, and that extends to choosing the means by which they obtain their software. For organizations with a longer time frame and an established IT infrastructure, that might mean building an in-house solution. For those looking for quicker turnaround and a more plug-and-play solution, buying software from a reputable vendor may be the better option. And for those who are willing to commit to a more direct working relationship with a supplier, finding a partner who matches your software needs could be the right approach. To determine which category your business falls under, ask yourself these key questions.

What is your budget?

Setting a budget for a software solution involves not only determining an initial spending limit, but also deciding whether your business is more in the market for a one-time investment or a longer-term budget. Buying software is the most straightforward option from this perspective, while partnering and building will likely require more complex budget logistics.

What is your learning curve?

Taking on a new software solution requires some getting used to, which can have a big impact on which route your business takes. If you have the time and resources to train your workforce on how to operate a new system, buying or building may be the way to go. That makes it worth the effort to bypass the learning curve and seek out a high-quality solution that is intuitive enough for your team to use right out of the box.

How is your IT support?

Any software solution will require a good deal of involvement from your IT team, but the degree of their involvement will differ between each option. Buying a proven solution designed to integrate seamlessly with your existing system will likely place the least work on IT’s plate. A partnership may require extensive collaboration between the two organization’s IT staff, while a build entails a great deal of IT involvement from beginning to end.

What is your growth plan?

Whatever route you choose, you should keep in mind that no software solution is forever. You’ll need to consider an option that is scalable and flexible enough to grow and change at the same rate as your business. For some organizations, that means building an in-house solution tailored to follow a set growth plan. For others, it means buying a solution with a dedicated support team to help adjust to your ever-evolving business needs.

What is your risk tolerance?

The fact is that there is seldom such a thing as a perfect software solution. There is always a chance that the system you choose just will not work out for your business. Building an in-house solution can help tailor your software to your needs, but there is no guarantee that the build will go as planned. The best way to ensure a good fit is to carefully research your options, paying special attention to compatibility with your existing system and ease of integration. Buying a solution that is designed with smooth integration in mind is often the most dependable approach.

Who will be using the software?

Usability is a key consideration as well. Does your business need a solution designed to be intuitive enough for non-technical employees to operate? Will this software be used mainly by IT and other tech-savvy teams? Do you have a plan for who will handle troubleshooting and maintenance when issues arise? Different types of software solutions offer different eases of use. Buying a software system specifically designed to be usable by both technical and non-tech employees is the surest way to achieve maximum usability.

Ultimately, your organization knows its business better than anyone else does. Choosing a software solution option that works best for your specific goals, needs, and level of expertise may take some effort, but the decision you make can play a major role in your company’s future growth, development, and success.

Build vs. Buy vs. Partner Software:
Making Your Decision

There is no single answer to whether it’s best to build, buy, or partner software solutions for your business. As we’ve addressed in this article, there are a lot of factors to consider, from cost to ease of use to your long-term business goals. The solution that fits your needs best is out there, and taking a good look at all of these considerations can help you find it.

If you decide that buying a software solution is the best route for your organization, MHC offers a range of flexible and scalable software systems for businesses of all sizes. Our team of dedicated tech experts is ready to work alongside your teams to understand your company’s particular needs and goals. That helps us to create personalized, tailored solutions designed to integrate smoothly into your existing systems and help you hit the metrics that matter to you. Contact us today to schedule a demonstration!

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Dan Ward

Dan Ward is the Chief Technology Officer for MHC. With a software engineering career spanning 25 years, Dan has worked for a variety of organizations ranging from fledgling start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. With experience ranging from aerospace, manufacturing, ERP mobile expansion, EdTech, loyalty rewards marketing, and finance, Dan is adept at growing software engineering organizations from small local teams to large multinational divisions. When Dan isn’t benefiting MHC with this immense skillset, he and his wife can be found proudly watching their three children participate in lacrosse, hockey, football, and dance. He also enjoys traveling to warm locales with his family, biking, running, and weightlifting.

Ira Brooker

Ira Brooker is a freelance writer and editor based in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He has been writing blogs and copy about software-as-a-service solutions for most of the past decade. Before exploring accounts payable and workflow solutions with MHC, he wrote about fields including cybersecurity, workforce management, online accessibility, audiology, retail sales, and much more. When he’s not doing business writing, he also indulges in writing fiction, journalism, arts criticism, and bar trivia.

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