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Build or buy? Three reasons “Buy” gets the nod

Fifteen or twenty years ago, build or buy? was a bigger question than it is now.

When online registration software was still a relatively new thing, many organizations began moving from paper registration to a web version. Once they decided to make the move, organizations Person wear a tool belt to represent the build option in build or buythen had to decide whether to:

  1. Request a developer to build their own system.
  2. Buy software they could install on their servers. They would then pay an annual maintenance fee.
  3. Pay an annual fee to access software hosted elsewhere via the Software as a Service (SaaS) model.

Depending on the situation facing an organization—budget, time, unique specs, etc.—any of the three could be the right choice.

Now, purchased and locally-installed registration software is a rare option because software housed in a cloud environment is much easier and cost-effective to upgrade and maintain. Homegrown options are becoming rarer by the day as well. If we could narrow down to three reasons why homegrown solutions built several years ago are now being phased out in favor of SaaS, it would be:

  1. Browsers
  2. Security
  3. Functionality

Ten years ago, when build or buy was still a big question, most casual web users opted for either a version of Internet Explorer or Firefox as their primary means of surfing the web. Google Chrome wasn’t introduced until late 2008. It’s now by far the most popular browser. But there are eleventy-seven other browsers getting regular use as well—for PC, Mac, tablet, iPhone, Android, this, that, and the other. Any web-based software must work with all those browsers. Failing to work with just one could place the product at risk of becoming inaccessible to a significant chunk of its audience. When any of those eleventy-seven browsers releases a new version, the software must be able to handle it. Yet, the developers of a homegrown system may not be available quickly, or at all, to address the issue.

Software security breaches are nearly as common as weird Kanye pronouncements, but with a lot more at stake. It often turns out that information isn’t hacked by some eastern European cyber masterminds, but as the result of human error. Still, software security is a big deal, and staying ahead of the game is much easier for SaaS solutions than for homegrown software. SaaS providers are focused on security all the time. Keeping customers’ data secure is paramount to a software provider’s viability. SaaS systems are positioned to make upgrades quickly as security protocols and techniques improve.

Registration management, as an example, is a lot or than just filling out an online form anymore. It used to be that way, but it can now involve highly complex pricing scenarios that look like algebraic equations, automated emails for every scenario one can imagine, and precise records of who did what, when, and for how long. As user requirements increase, it’s hard for homegrown systems to keep up. SaaS solutions like Learning Stream are constantly updated to keep pace with user requirements. Conversely, organizations fortunate enough to have internal IT departments can find it hard to get on their schedules for routine updates and improvements. An organization’s registration management needs can quickly outpace what their internal solution can deliver.

If you have a homegrown registration management system that is starting to show its age, or if you are asking the build or buy question, please contact us at your convenience.

Article By:

Ron Smith

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