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Build vs Buy a Site Search Solution – Part I

You are making some regular choices every day – pancakes or waffles, full-dress or skirts, pop or jazz, Netflix or Amazon Prime, drive to work or hire a taxi, eat out or home-delivery, Android or iOS, mountains or seas for the next vacation, etc. They are not-so-tough choices to make.

But build vs buy a software decision. It has always been a tough nut to crack! You cannot just flip a coin and make a choice. We all wish we could but unfortunately, that is not how it works.

The need to make this choice between build vs buy arises from your need for a software that is going to solve specific business problems for you.

Once you have identified that you need a Site Search system, the challenge is where do you start. Because all you know is that you have a problem that needs to be addressed. The other thing you know is either you can solve it on your own using internal resources and capabilities or probably you can go ahead and buy the best solution available in the market. But you have no definitive direction forward. You are stuck with a series of questions haunting you forever.

 

There needs to be a way to address these questions and decide on the option (build or buy) that works best for you.

In this post, we are going to help you solve this dilemma of building vs buying the software forever. We are also going to share an elaborate list of tasks and activities that you will have to cater to when it comes to implementing the Site Search solution for your eCommerce site.

Imagine you are in the apparel business and you want to be the best-in-industry with the latest labels and trends available on your online store. You are always figuring out which inventory to move fast and first. Amidst these important decisions,  you find yourself solving the problem of Site Search which is not showing the right products to online shoppers. What a bummer!

Or let’s say you are a home improvement store introducing new inventory every month and keeping up the pace with the fast-changing lifestyle and needs. You suddenly find your customers struggling with the search results on your eCommerce store – getting the wrong products listed for the products being searched.

Now, what will you do – solve for the core problem your business is trying to solve or start building an efficient and effective search solution that can help your online shoppers find the right products. These dilemmas are always going to demand your attention and have you make tough choices or compromises.

Well, it is not that tough if you do a quick step-by-step analysis of the situation. Always start asking for:

  1. The uniqueness of the problem
  2. Maturity of the software that is going to solve this problem

This will give you a fair understanding of the situation and give a direction forward.

Build vs Buy Decision Matrix

However, to further build your case, let’s do a deep dive into the 3 basic elements – The Problem, The Risk and The Cost involved.

3 factors to consider to make an informed decision

It is important that you identify if the problem you are solving for is core to your business or peripheral to it. If it is a common problem and can be mended with a quick fix, then go for it and build on your own. But if it is a complex problem like Site Search with multiple use-cases and elaborate backend functionality – you might want to think of outsourcing this rather than building it from scratch. (unless you have tech resources that can get you going fast and right).

Secondly, identify all the different kinds of risks involved: ranging from the time needed to get the problem solved, forfeiture of data, control over the insights and analytics (if needed), long term need for a change of software. This will require you to have clear asks from the solution and foresight into the expectations from the software in the future.

Lastly, evaluate the overall cost – upfront and ongoing (CapEx and OpEx both) to build this software in-house or buy licensed software from a vendor who is an expert in solving these problems for you. This will be a typical cost to build vs cost to buy comparison. You also might want to consider the opportunity cost associated if you plan to build on your own and wait for the software to start showing results.

You are almost there! This analysis will help you make up your mind. But in the business, you cannot be half-sure about making such an important decision. So get objective, chalk out the pros and cons of both the approach. Identify the non-negotiables, weigh each of the parameters and make an informed decision for yourself.

Here’s a quick look into the pros and cons of both Build vs Buy approach:

Pros and Cons of Build vs Buy

This approach helps you evaluate the market scenario, assess your internal capabilities and vendor’s expertise in solving the business problem for you. So, once you have considered all these factors, it should not be a herculean task for you or anyone to make a decision for their business.  In our next blog post, we will be looking into what does it take to build the Site Search solution from scratch.

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