5 Factors to Consider in the “Build or Buy” Decision for Reporting Software

By Jillian D'Arcy on September 15, 2015

third party software internal software build or buy reporting data beekeeper

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In our last blog post, we discussed 3 tips for crafting a successful customer reporting strategy for your SaaS business:

  1. Figure out the usage patterns of your users
  2. Customize reports to the type of user
  3. Ensure a quality experience

The next step is to make the leap and deploy a piece of software. But should you buy something off-the shelf, or build it yourself?

Here are five factors to consider before making this decision.

1. Cost

Buy

The costs associated with purchasing third party software varies depending on the solution. Some vendors charge upfront integration costs, annual recurring fees, support fees, or per user. It’s important to understand how you are going to use the software before making a commitment so you can find a vendor who’s pricing strategy works for you (otherwise you could end up writing some big checks!).

Some reporting vendors (like us at Beekeeper Data) have simple, flat pricing structures designed to let you scale the solution to all your users.

Build

Building and maintaining reporting software is expensive, and building a robust reporting system is no small undertaking. You will need developers, product managers, testers, designers, and plenty of time. There are also often-overlooked costs such as installation, deployment, maintenance, and training costs.

2. Return on Investment (ROI)

Buy

Vendors should be able to demonstrate a clear path to return on investment, backed by case-studies of similar deployments. A key benefit of buying software is that you can deploy it relatively quickly and start realizing benefits immediately – although how quickly depends on the vendor.

Build

It’s important to calculate whether investing in building, maintaining, and supporting an internal solution can generate positive value. Rolling your own software requires significant up-front investment, so you’ve got to be pretty sure you know what you are doing to realize returns.

3. Time

Buy

How long will it take you to integrate third party software, and train your staff to use it? Some software requires you to change how many other parts of your systems work, which can be time consuming.

Build

Building a reporting software takes countless hours of research and development. Contemplate whether building a solution is the best use of development budget. The longer it takes to build, the more time you have to go without it.

4. Support

Buy

A good software vendor has a dedicated customer success team in place that provides in-depth employee training, quickly fixes bugs, and is readily available to answer questions and concerns.

Build

Are you prepared to dedicate on-going resources to training, enhancement, fixing bugs, and more? Determine whether the development team has time to support employees using the software.

5. Features

Buy

Companies should choose a vendor that has a strong track record for adding state of the art features to their product that are customizable and scale with growing business needs. It’s wise to research what current and former customers think of the software and to ask the vendor what their future plans are for updating features and adding new ones.

Build

Successful internal reporting software can be tailor built to your needs, but as the company expands it might start to outgrow the initial feature set. I’ve said this already, but be prepared to invest in continual improvements and maintenance.

What’s the take-away? You should probably consider Beekeeper Data.

Beekeeper makes it quick and easy to send reports to customers, partners, and honestly whoever you like. We offer reasonable flat pricing with unlimited users and simple installation. Get in touch to learn more.

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Jillian D'Arcy bio photo

Jillian D'Arcy

Sales Associate. Travel Enthusiast. Sweet Tooth.

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