When faced with the task of selecting a new IT system for your business, the options are vast, and the market. As such, the ability to quickly whittle down your options based on requirements is a much need skill. Yet this can often seem like a daunting task. In this day and age, the temptation to adopt a “built-to-order”, or custom system, can seem like the perfect answer to your needs in the face of countless options.
I want to encourage you that if a custom built solution is something your company is considering, that it is time to start asking some tough questions about the future and actual viability of custom solutions for a growing organisation.
With this all in mind, I want to take you on an open and honest journey around the hidden pitfalls of a custom built solution, highlighting three ways in which such a solution can be problematic.
Upgrades, Maintenance, & Support, oh my!
There is a reason that SaaS as taken off rapidly in this market space, primarily down to the very essence of the acronym, Software as a Service! Ultimately, custom built solutions have this issue at its very core as it is provided as a product, and therefore upgrading & maintaining the solution lands solely with you and the provider. You have to ask yourself, where does the ecosystem of support, continual improvement and maintenance sit? Does a custom built solution really give you the support you need to achieve your goals of expansion and growth over the next 5-6 years, or is it simply filling the gap you see here and now?
It is like buying a car, once that car is off the forecourt, ensuring the maintenance of that car is on you. Taking it to get serviced, getting fixes and upgrades can be a costly process. So costly in fact, that you often find cars being written off in many cases where the cost of repairs is greater than the cost of a new car. We find similar situations with custom systems.
Now, imagine buying a new car that is paid for on a subscription basis, which includes a lifetime warranty and guarantee of updates, fixes, and repairs all for one subscription-based price. Find a fault? Take to the seller and they will fix it, no questions asked, no fees. New regulations require that you have a specific feature? No worries, the product is updated regularly in line with new requirements and regulations, all included in that one subscription.
This loosely outlines the kind of issues custom-built solutions can bring Vs SaaS-based solutions when it comes to upgrades, maintenance and support. There are pro’s and con’s for these scenarios on both sides, but you need to weigh the long term benefits of your investment. What is the real TCO and ROI of your choice when it comes to ease of upgrading, maintaining and supporting your solution.
IT Resource Management
What is the application of knowledge and skills across your organisational IT efforts. At 3EN we often come across organisations utilising custom-built solutions that have come up against a barrier when the member of their team responsible for the administration of said solution either moves on or retires. We find solutions that have been operating up until this stage, but it is at this point where companies are faced with the glaring realisation that the knowledge of the function of the solution, its “upgrades” and maintenance have sat solely with a single team or employee. The main issue here is that there is no availability of external expertise, resources or ecosystem when it comes to a custom solution, it is all internal, and this poses a huge risk to any growing company.
Adopting a solution from an expert NetSuite partner like 3EN, means you have an entire world of resources and options open to you. Solutions like NetSuite have an entire ecosystem of structures in place to ensure your solution does not rest on the knowledge of one body of people. And a partner like 3EN is specifically in place to ensure the expertise and experience is continually developing, maturing, and growing to support your specific needs on your system.
This is the honest evaluation of custom-built solutions, they only take you so far. This is the reality of custom software. At some point you are going to expand, move into new markets, geographies, or to a size where you need a system to follow suit and scale with you. This might seem slightly short, or even dismissive, but ultimately it’s the barefaced truth, you will only go so far until you meet the limitations of a custom built solution. Potentially ending up with a system that is so complex that trying to scale it is going to take a mammoth amount of work and resource to get it up to speed.
This is why when we work with any company, 3EN take the time to understand, evaluate, and incorporate your business plans, ambitions, and strategy, into an implementation plan, approach and solution that will deliver for the short term and long term. This is why we focus solely on providing business solutions through NetSuite, this gives all our customers the foundation for scalability yet the flexibility of custom solutions. Leveraging a robust platform that ensures you can grow and scale, worry free.
To summarise, investing in a custom-built solution to alleviate your issues system will often come up short in the long term. The main question you need to ask yourself is what are you investing in? Long term or short term goals? Ultimately, if you are seeking the answers to today’s problems, then a custom built solution might do the job. Planning to be in this for the long run? Then down the line you will start finding holes in a custom-built system, challenges that even the best custom-built solution can’t mitigate.
Simply put, you won't be the company you are today 12 months from now. So don’t bet all your chips on a solution that only alleviates today’s problems. Have a long term vision for the solution you pick. Ask yourself, will this solution be able to support our plans, goals, and aspirations.
If you have any questions with regards to the content in this post, please feel free to contact us here, or leave a note in the comments section below. Thanks for reading.