Buy or Build (or Build with a Low-code Platform)

If the rigidness of one-size-fits-all software is prohibitive, building custom software (with a fast and efficient low-code platform) may be the cost-efficient solution to propel your business.

In these days of ubiquitous smartphones and fast internet connections, it is not uncommon for businesses of all sizes to realize that they are missing an external opportunity or that they have an inefficient internal process.

It could be a new e-sales site for a holiday-themed gift shop. It could be a mechanism for encouraging employee health. Or it could be the need to simplify a workflow through departments.

Oh, and they need it right now.

Regardless of the reason, the proposed addition of technology often comes with an important decision:

Buy or Build (or Build with a low-code platform)?

Each has their positives and negatives. Here are some considerations to keep in mind while making the decision:


Many assume that it is cheaper to buy commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) software rather than build it in-house. Possibly. But “one-size-fits-all” is not accurate because every business is different and every core competency requires customization.

Additional technology must improve your business and it must align with your business goals. Integration is imperative, lest existing databases become obsolete.

Clearly there are big-name software companies who have large international market shares and well-known COTS offers.

The other option involves using in-house resources to build the app. There are two general ways of building software: the classic route and the low-code route:

Admittedly, it is just a simple app. But it can serve as the core for many useful apps you can build for your clients.

Build (Classic style)

Developing an app from scratch can be complex. The lead programmer, whose experience comes at a not insignificant cost, must have expertise with establishing databases, establishing APIs, designing user interfaces, and implementing security.

And the classic development process takes time, allocation of staff, patience, and effective in-house project management. Often the broad strokes can be straightforward, but fine-tuning and customization takes time. Testing may produce delays, particularly with customized code. Then, when it is published, ongoing maintenance and scaling require continued attention.

Plus, if the final product is not up to the standards of contemporary society, there may be customer backlash.

Build (with a low-code platform)

Low-code platforms offer a more streamlined development process by automating the steps for developing apps. A modest amount of experience enables in-house IT employee(s) to start from nothing, quickly develop a minimum viable product, add and customize appropriate features and efficiently maintain the finished app.

Intuitive graphic displays guide the user and custom code can be added.

They save a huge amount of time through the use of well-tested templates and components. Both senior and less-salary-heavy junior programmers can work together to expedite completion of the projects.

Hosting and cloud storage are often built into the system.

And, best of all, adjustments can be made quickly in reaction to real-world situations (i.e., the societal upheaval of a pandemic) and to realize new business opportunities (i.e., absorbing the customers of a competitor).

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