By Tom Shrive, founder and CEO of askporter
When looking to adopt automation to streamline processes and drive efficiencies, businesses are often faced with an important decision – whether to purchase a ready-to-use turnkey solution, or to invest in custom software.
As the name suggests, turnkey solutions simply need the end user to ‘turn the key’ to get started, and as such can often be easily deployed across an organisation. Custom software, meanwhile, gives businesses the freedom to design, create and populate their own software to meet their specific needs.
While both custom software and turnkey solutions have their merits, there is, however, a better choice to make – namely to invest in a no-code configurable platform, which allows businesses to build software applications without the need for coding. In this sense, it is a popular and promising alternative to traditional software development for non-technical firms aspiring to build their own, fully formed applications.
In order to understand why no-code offers the best option to businesses though, it is first necessary to explore the constraints associated with both custom software and turnkey solutions.
It is understandable why companies will often lean towards the most cost-effective and efficient automation solution for their business.
Without a doubt, the most effective approach is to buy a licence or subscription to an off-the-shelf, turnkey solution. With these solutions, all of the research, development, and testing have already been paid for, and users can be assured that they will work – otherwise they can simply cancel their subscription.
Building custom software in-house, on the other hand, has many costs, some of which are particularly well hidden. Furthermore, the software often takes longer than expected and can end up costing far more than was estimated, with Gallup reporting that one in six internal IT projects have an average cost overrun of 200%, and a schedule overrun of almost 70%.
After factoring in the cost of the initial build, testing, support, bug fixes, upgrades, etc., businesses that decide to deploy custom software may find that they have racked up a considerable bill, thereby negating the cost-saving benefits that they set out to pursue. There’s also no guarantee that, after all of this, the software will actually work.
No-code platforms are essentially the same as turnkey solutions from a cost perspective, but can carry a slightly higher upfront cost to configure to a specific business case. However, they give companies much more freedom to tailor their software to their individual requirements and processes.
The biggest appeal of building software in-house is the notion that it can be moulded to meet a company’s specific requirements as they arise, whereas turnkey solutions do not ascribe users much in the way of flexibility. For example, if a business purchases Microsoft Office, there is little that they can do to modify the solution to their specific needs.
What choosing to build software in-house also means, however, is that organisations will be heavily reliant on the developers responsible for building or updating their software, and this can be expensive.
Unfortunately, it is a common occurrence for companies to be left with software that is written in outdated or unknown code bases which aren’t well supported, which adds a significant ongoing maintenance cost, and may require a complete and very expensive rebuild.
As a general recommendation, if commercial software meets 60% or more of a business’ needs, opting for a turnkey software as a service [SaaS] platform is the smartest option. Businesses may not have full control over the product roadmap, but many vendors will work closely with customers when designing or improving their products.
No-code extensible platforms, however, can be customised and adapted by businesses and new functionality can be added. In this way, it is feasible for the software to fulfil 100% of an organisation’s requirements, without the company having to develop anything, or certainly only having to develop a small container piece of functionality that adds real value to that specific business.
Every company has its own systems in place that play a fundamental role in the efficient delivery of practices and processes. As such, it is vital for any additional purchased software to be compatible with existing systems.
While turnkey solutions may provide a raft of useful applications that can easily and quickly be rolled out across an organisation, they may not connect particularly well with the existing tech stack due to the lack of flexibility afforded by them. As a result, the integration process can end up taking much longer than was originally hoped or anticipated.
By building their own custom software instead, businesses can help ensure that these connections are made, However, this approach is contingent on teams having the capacity and the ability to undertake the extensive process of stitching together various smaller solutions, which is highly unlikely for most companies, particularly those that lack the technical knowhow that is required.
No-code extensible solutions allow businesses to easily integrate a wide range of new applications alongside their legacy systems.
By choosing to build their own custom software in-house, businesses are not reliant on an external team to develop new features or roll out upgrades to their automation systems.
The problem with this though is that most internal teams do not have the same availability or expertise as an external team when dealing with complex architectures that are typical of global companies.
From multi tenancy requirements – the software architecture where a single software can serve multiple, distinct user groups – to data compliance, an experienced team equipped with the best practices and latest market insights will typically be better placed to handle maintenance for enterprise-scale software.
Furthermore, businesses building their own custom software are also likely to find there are considerable maintenance costs involved in doing so, whereas with SaaS solutions, the cost of maintenance is typically included in the subscription price. Therefore, both turnkey and no-code platforms are the cheaper options in this regard.
The bottom line
It is evident that the main benefits of building custom software are high adaptability, as well as the level of control that doing so can ascribe to businesses, enabling them to build their own unique selling points [USPs] around the technology.
Despite this, a business embarking upon the task of building its own software will need to bear in mind the high cost and slow deployment times that may be involved, in addition to the level of expertise that is required – something that many organisations lack.
Similarly, buying turnkey SaaS software – while quick and cheap to roll out and requiring no maintenance – really limits the control a business can have over its software, as well as the software that it uses as a company.
Investing in a no-code platform delivered by a specialist provider can often be the most sensible and seamless option for the vast majority of companies looking to automate their processes and practices, being that it incorporates all the best parts of custom and turnkey solutions without the constraints associated with them.
Now, it is in almost no situation better for a business to build its own platform or buy an off-the-shelf turnkey solution that offers little or no flexibility provided a mature enough no-code solution exists.
It is, far smarter to choose a no-code configurable platform that enables teams to focus on mission critical tasks, and not spend time building and testing software.
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