Buy vs Build Discussion Question

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Your manager just asked you to join a meeting in progress to speak for five minutes about a build versus buy decision the company is about to make. Describe how you would spend those five minutes in presenting the most important element of the decision.

List and describe the advantages and disadvantages of building a system from the ground up.

If given a choice between a packaged solution and building one, which would you choose, and why?

Jun 14th, 2015

Thank you for the opportunity to help you with your question!

Step 1: Validate the need for technology
Many organizations often choose an enabling technology before identifying any legitimate business need. Sometimes this "cart before the horse" approach is due to rigid business processes, lack of technical knowledge, or pure product hype, which commands many a tech guru’s attention. Decision makers are very often awed by product suite success stories, dynamite product demonstrations, and industry analysts' evaluation of technology—even when they haven’t formally identified a need for the technology.

To compete successfully, managers need to focus on validating that a business need exists prior to deciding upon the enabling technology and that the need can be readily associated with one of the organization's strategic goals or objectives.

Last, but not least, tech leaders need to provide an estimated return on investment (ROI) or added value, along with how ROI will be measured. It is surprising how many programs are initiated without considering ROI or added business value up front. Many of these projects consume a lot of profit before leaders realize that either the solution will not add value to the organization or there is not a real business need.

Step 2: Identify core business requirements
In large organizations, pinpointing core business requirements is often easier said than done but is nonetheless critical before enabling a business solution. A core business requirement is one that must be supported by the solution to continue. If a requirement can be only partially met or not addressed by a solution, it is not a core requirement.

It takes effort to identify these requirements, and involving the right businesspeople determines the success of the process. It is extremely important to focus on identifying business requirements—not technology or design requirements. Remember: Business first, technology last.

Step 3: Identify architectural requirements
Most organizations are already using technology to enable their business processes. To reduce the cost of operation and maintenance of this technology, these organizations have established standards to which all solutions must adhere.

It is extremely important to identify any architectural requirements or standards that a solution must support before determining if a COTS or custom solution is the best choice.

Some factors that may restrict the solution choice are as follows:

  • Information security strategy
  • Existing or planned technology infrastructure
  • Existing systems with which the solution will be interfacing
  • Preferred architecture framework, such as J2EE or .NET
  • Existing corporate standards, such as Web servers or browsers
  • Operating systems in use by the organization and its business partners

Please let me know if you need any clarification. I'm always happy to answer your questions.
Jun 14th, 2015

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