The million-dollar question – billion-dollar, in some cases – facing startups is: should we build all our software in-house or use ready-made solutions?
Building everything yourself is attractive to investors; ensures 100% interoperability between platforms; and can lead to new revenue streams if you then licence them out to others. However taking this path is extremely resource-intensive and places great pressure on your technical team to discover and eliminate any bugs with every deployment and update.
Indeed, Gallup reports that one in six internal IT projects have an average cost overrun of 200%, and a schedule overrun of almost 70%.
Therefore existing solutions – known as ‘turnkey’ as you need only to switch them on to start using them – are tempting. However replicating an experience found elsewhere will not set your business apart.
“Without a doubt, the most effective approach is to buy a licence or subscription to an off-the-shelf, turnkey solution,” says Tom Shrive, CEO of Google-backed PropTech firm askporter.
“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.
“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.”
There is a third option: investing in a no-code configurable platform allows businesses to build software applications without the need for coding. This may be a promising alternative to traditional software development for non-technical firms aspiring to build their own, fully formed applications.
“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,” adds Shrive. “However, they give companies much more freedom to tailor their software to their individual requirements and processes.”
He adds: “As a general recommendation, if commercial software meets 60% or more of a business’ needs, opting for a turnkey software as a service 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.
“No-code extensible solutions also allow businesses to easily integrate a wide range of new applications alongside their legacy systems.”
Askporter’s property management software enables organisations to manage their customers, places and real assets autonomously with AI.
As well as Google, the London firm is also backed by Silicon Valley VCs including Venture University, Pi Labs, Plug and Play, WISAG FM and Henley Investments
“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,” says Shrive.
“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.”