Build versus Buy: What considerations should you be contemplating?

There are a few blogs and newsletters that I read religiously.  One of those that is on my “must read” list is Michael Rasmussen’s Corp-Integrity blog.  Mr. Rasmussen is a self-proclaimed “GRC Pundit” – and his blog posts are always worth checking out.

Just this morning, an article on the considerations of building a policy management program in house versus buying a policy management solution caught my attention.  The same considerations are a consistent topic of conversation in our office – not just as they apply specifically to policy management, but as they apply to content management in all areas of the business.  We on the policyIQ team obviously have a vested interest in an organization’s decision to build versus buy – and we believe that most organizations benefit from buying an existing solution.

youneedThere are certain essential features that you need in order to fully support your content management initiatives.  You need an easy to manage workflow, security at various levels, reporting for analysis and oversight, communication tools to keep everyone apprised of changes, and electronic forms to track sign-offs.  You also benefit from the ability to identify relationships between related or supporting content, create consistency in the creation of content, and build an easy to navigate structure to organize your information.

When you are deciding whether to build a solution or buy, the decision comes down to a simple question: Can you do it less expensively yourself? Building a solution in-house, whether it is through a simple intranet site, SharePoint or by building a proprietary program from scratch, is not a small undertaking.  The initial development costs are high, and those development resources must be retained in order to maintain the application and support the users of the application going forward.  (If new features or updates are requested, those development costs continue to build every year.) 

Buying a solution is more straightforward, but may require some compromises.  It is unlikely that you’ll find an application that meets every requirement exactly as your users request it.  If your users have identified a very specific requirement that is a “must have” and it doesn’t seem to exist in an existing system, consider whether there might be a different way to accomplish the same end goal. 

For example, a policy manager may require that policies be stored as PDF files.  Is the reason behind the requirement that you need to limit the ability to update a document and print it as though it were final?  Security in an existing application may easily accomplish that same goal – without requiring PDF files.  (In policyIQ, you have the option of either storing content as a file attachment – such as a PDF – or within the body of the page.  The same version control and security applies, but by displaying the content directly in the body of the page, you can better control the consistency, reduce ” clicks” for your users and eliminate the need for add-on software like a PDF reader.)

If you have worked with the policyIQ team, you know that we’re passionate about our jobs and our product.  We believe we offer a product that meets the content management needs of most businesses – and we do it with an easy to implement and low cost product that’s much more efficient than custom developed solutions.

We’re interested in hearing what you think!  What features are most important to you in a content management solution? Contact us or reply in the comments with your feedback on the build versus buy decision.

This entry was posted in Business Lessons by Chris Burd. Bookmark the permalink.

About Chris Burd

Chris is the Managing Director of the policyIQ group at RGP. She gets geeky about compliance and technology, and gets to spend every day working at the crossroads of the two. With policyIQ since 2005, Chris has worked with hundreds of policyIQ clients to implement technology and enhance their internal compliance environment. In the past few years, she's focused on enhancing policyIQ's offering as a Conflict Minerals and Anti-Corruption tool. In past lives, Chris worked as a system implementation consultant, a e-commerce specialist, a customer service call center manager, and - for one short but memorable summer during high school - a machine operator on midnight shift in a plastics factory. In her free time, she spoils her nieces, volunteers at her local food bank, and spends more time than she should taking photos of her cats. She would like to be a rock star when she grows up.

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