Bespoke vs out-of-the-box SaaS solutions: making the right choice for your business

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  • Digital product

Digital transformation is a key business growth driver for any enterprise today, and the challenge is not going away any time soon.

The stakes have never been higher – the digital space is now touching every business sector, from agriculture to aerospace. As the e-commerce evolution continues, tech-savvy industries are finding more traditionally ‘offline’ industries infiltrating the digital space.  

It’s a brave new world of hyper-connected digital deployments that require a deep technical understanding to leverage. 

YOUR WAY FORWARD 

Rethinking your digital offerings today can elevate your business to the top of your competitive landscape tomorrow.   

Sounds great, but how do you get there?  

If your organisation is new to digital transformation, the reality of this complex, multi-faceted process can become overwhelming.  

Anyone who has led the digital transformation of their company will agree that finding the right digital solutions for key areas of their business, from customer service to HR, and forming the right partnerships to design and implement these solutions, is the secret to success. 

Essentially, a digital transformation can take one of two paths:  

  • Implementing a set of existing out-of-box enterprise solutions and SaaS platforms; 

  • Building a tailored digital architecture based on your preferred technologies and business outcomes.   

To make the right decision for your business it’s critical to have a clear view of which solution allows your business to fully realise its strategic vision. This is vital, as what fundamentally separates a strong and effective strategy to one that misses the target, is the precision of the solution.  

SO, WHICH IS BEST? 

Should you deploy an out-of-the-box digital asset instead of a solution tailored to the specific needs of your business and its customers? 

An out of the box SaaS solution gives you a Swiss army-knife of functionality and a quicker path to implementation. Building your own digital infrastructure from scratch means you can build something uniquely tailored to your business needs and, most importantly, the exact needs of your customer. This will give you a competitive edge and perhaps even set new standard for other players in the market. 

THE “CUSTOMISABLE” OUT-OF-THE-BOX SAAS SOLUTIONS   

As with many products, a 3rd party SaaS platform (e.g. WordPress) can only be configured and customised to a certain degree, as it is essentially owned by the supplier. If you are going for an out-of-box solution, it’s important to study the product documentation thoroughly and ensure the solution you are looking at will work for your exact needs. Sometimes, it’s a seemingly minor feature or the lack of it that can be a deal breaker, remember, the devil is in the detail. 

You will also need to consider maintenance and support costs, bug fixes, security patches and new releases requiring licensing, all of these will be deployed on the supplier’s timeline.    

COST CONSIDERATIONS 

3rd party SaaS implementations are often deployed cheaply, however these savings can be eroded over the product’s lifecycle as recurring maintenance and license costs accumulate. Pre-packaged SaaS solutions tend to be monolithic rather than modular, further adding to maintenance overheads and reducing agility. Additionally, small “workarounds” accumulate over time to compensate for the limitations of a packaged solution.  

You may also want to consider the costs of being fixed to a single supplier, as well as the loss to potential earnings if the solution ends up being not as agile and precise as expected.  

LONG-TERM VIEW 

With a SaaS solution, your business will be reliant on the vendor for as long as the solution is deployed, no matter how much technical knowledge you maintain in-house.  

The presence in the market and reputation of the vendor matters. A start-up may offer a cheaper SaaS solutions in comparison with their established counterparts, but you may want to factor in the risk that comes with this bargain. If the vendor is acquired by another firm, or is restructured, then feature releases and even security patches may be affected. 

THE ALTERNATE APPROACH, OWNING YOUR OWN DIGITAL INFRASTRUCTURE 

Building a single modular platform or the whole company’s digital infrastructure from scratch is an involved process that will initially require substantial investment and longer implementation timescales.  

That said, if you’re a business leader who sees digital transformation as a robust foundation for business growth, you will want a digital architecture that embodies your vision, is scalable and lies entirely within your control.  

By building tailored composable, sustainable and accessible digital solutions, your organisation will gain the freedom to maintain technical knowledge in house and retain the ability to modify solutions further as the market and your customers’ demands evolve over time.    

CHOOSING YOUR DIGITAL PARTNER   

By engaging a digital partner to thoroughly assess the design and implementation needs of your business, you can ensure that you select the best solution for your organisation’s strategy and maximise the ROI from your tech investment.  

When working with a partner to build your custom digital solution, the success depends on a deep level of engagement and a shared vision. It’s crucial to ensure they understand your business and are well equipped to inject the right knowledge and specialist teams into your business. 

If the agency engages with you and your team to understand the bigger picture, how your business achieves success, and where to focus to maximise the desired outcome of the digital solution, it’s a clear sign you’ve chosen the right partner. 

If you’re struggling to decide which approach would work best for your business then get in touch. We’ll set you up with someone on our technical team to talk through the alternatives, and whether you’d be better to go with a SaaS product or build a bespoke solution for your organisation.

Jeff Mallchok is a Product Lead at MMT Digital. Jeff has nearly thirty years of experience across many domains with the IT industry, including extensive management and product leadership experience in agile environments across multiple sectors including healthcare, government, and mobile IT security. His career has taken him to many regions to support his clients, including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Canada, USA, and throughout the EU where he consulted in project management, customer training, sales, and technical implementations.

Jeff Mallchok

Product Lead, MMT

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