Why DIY Software Isn’t Worth The Risk

In-house software development can resemble a wolf in sheep’s clothing


In-house software development can be something of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. At first, it seems like the inexpensive, hassle-free alternative, but in the long run, it’ll come back to bite you, sometimes at double or triple the original projections of time and money.

The DIY approach is popular among businesses tempted to cut financial corners, while simultaneously homing in on specific needs. But many companies hire experienced teams to build and scale solutions because it’s never as easy as it seems, and devoting so much energy into it takes away from a company’s strength — making (or creating) the core product.

You can leverage the experience of a team that builds software to solve the specific problem your company faces. This is a group that has literally been thinking about this problem for decades, including every use case, edge case, and 'gotcha' out there.

It’s not in your best interest to run with the wolves. When it comes to marketing, DIY software is not a good use of time or resources.

Why the Right Approach Is Key

Aiming your focus to something that isn’t in your expertise is a risky business decision, especially for programming needs. Software companies, on the other hand, are professional troubleshooters; their living depends on analyzing, dismantling, and reassembling concepts.

Instead of putting hours of mental bandwidth into implementing something that’s likely incorrect, outsource the expertise to a company that has a proven track record. Companies tend to drastically underestimate the time, energy, and ongoing maintenance required to build functionality that scales with your growing business.

Many of our best customers originally built and managed in-house referral programs. Their first instinct was to be scrappy and stash some cash, only to come to us a few months later with the tracking, scaling, or fulfillment struggles causing them to lose credibility in the eyes of their ambassadors.

DIY has no finite costs, meaning the time and energy investments can be literally unlimited. Conversely, with a software solution, there is a specific product with a set of features that are known and vetted prior to purchase. Your results should likely match your expectations, but with DIY, there are many unknown variables.

If you still feel inclined to take a step into this unknown territory, ask the right questions before deciding to get crafty: Is this functionality integral to what your organization does or sells? Do you have the in-house expertise and resources to build and maintain that functionality over the long term? If you do, what will it cost?

Ask yourself whether your team is uniquely qualified to solve this problem faster, better, and for less time and energy than a possible third-party solution. It’s not worth building software yourself if you don’t have all the resources needed to do so.

Do It Right

Whether you hire a software company or do the dirty work yourself, it’s important that a business leader meets the company’s needs. Use these three tactics to develop a software strategy that unifies the team, engages vendors, and maps out a strategy:

1. Get everyone on the same page. Ensure all relevant stakeholders are included in the planning process so alignment exists across teams and departments. Most organizations have collaborative strategies, but less than 10 percent actually fulfill those plans successfully.

To boost communication, progression, and completion of your approach, aligning your team is crucial. No matter what tactic you take for your software, get everyone on the same wavelength so the next steps are clear.

2. Don’t keep vendors in the dark. Like your own employees, your vendors should be kept in the loop. Take the time to communicate your launch strategy with your vendor upfront. You may be surprised to see the vendor’s expertise or insights allows for a smoother transition.

Our company loves playing a part in helping roll out relationship marketing across an organization’s marketing stack. We’ve assisted global unveilings and many multi-team, cross-departmental launches.

But none of that happens without diversity. Not only does diversity increase creativity, but it also improves problem-solving and decision-making logistics. Exposing your business to an assortment of vendors, ideas, and insights can change your thought process and seriously spark innovation.

3. Plot the journey. Map out how the specific software fits into the overall strategy, and make sure your team understands the process. After all, it may not be realistic to expect those with the boots on the ground to have high-level visibility.

A great example is a customer of ours that we help with payout fulfillment. When the customer came to us, a person’s only job at the company was to manage payroll and communications to partners. We automated this for the customer, and it went from being a full-time job to a task that required just a few hours a week, allowing the employee to focus his attention elsewhere.

At the end of the day, software should be used to automate processes and duties that would otherwise be manually completed. The value comes not only from the ROI of new customers, but also from the ROI of focusing team members on higher-leverage items.

Be aware of that when deciding how to go about software development. Create something that will prove both beneficial and worthwhile for your company

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