In theory, a tech company could ask its internal IT department to build the maintenance and revenue management software it needs. From cost savings to faster deployment, there are numerous perceived advantages to developing contract renewal solutions in-house. But in reality, multiple roadblocks stand in the way of realizing these benefits.
While some niche organizations are capable of developing internal software themselves, most do not have the expertise, resources, or time to build a solution that so often needs to be customized around existing systems and channel needs. Ultimately, the decision to build, buy or partner with a trusted vendor will depend on your unique needs, the complexity of your service ecosystem, and your IT department’s technical aptitude.
Off-the-Shelf, Custom Builds or Third-Party Vendors: Which Should You Invest In?
New software – both commercial and custom – is no minor investment, so organizations should make sure they are truly in need before pursuing one or the other. You’re likely due for a new revenue management system if:
- You consistently work around existing software: Rigid, outdated products can create more problems than solve them. You feel like you’re making constant adjustments to get your legacy software to cooperate on a daily basis.
- You supplement existing solutions with extra products: Many solutions come with a limited number of built-in features that, while they once served your business well, are no longer enough to support current and future operations. You regularly invest in add-ons or complex integrations to supplement your current tool.
- You spend more time managing internal software than on sales and customer service: Spending excess time on software means less time focusing on growing your bottom line. Software should empower teams to be more productive and efficient; if your solutions are slowing you down, it’s time for a change.
Commercial software has long been the go-to answer for the majority of businesses that don’t want to reinvent the wheel, or need an immediate solution. However, OTS solutions do not account for the complexity of a global technology providers service ecosystem. For companies lacking a robust technical department, commercial products can be deployed quickly for a low upfront cost, but for the more complex tech provider organizations, custom solutions offer a more complete option – one that considers existing data, systems and channel requirements.
Even for the more complex providers, those with well-staffed and knowledgeable support staff, developing software in-house may seem appealing at first, but plans to build it yourself can backfire quickly. Here are five common pitfalls companies can run into if they let their IT teams pursue a DIY project:
- Massive cost overruns: Developing software in-house can be considerably more expensive than simply buying an OTS product, or investing in a solution customized to your business needs. It can also take time away from other time-sensitive responsibilities. Your IT team is likely juggling several projects at any given time, so asking them to divert their attention to building a customized service contract management and renewal application is probably not the best use of their hours.
- An unfinished project: The last thing you want is to get halfway through a custom build only to realize your IT team can’t finish the project. IT teams are unlikely to turn down a software request handed down from executives, but many lack the technical capabilities to see such an initiative successfully through to the end.
- Your IT Teams don’t understand your business or your data: There are many nuances of tracking, renewing and reporting on service and support contracts. While your IT team might be able to build simple systems for tracking service contracts, developing a customized solution that accounts for the diversity of data, systems, and processes involved in contract lifecycles is something else. As Lenovo learned after attempting to build a global contract management solution internally, rounding up the right technical and subject matter expertise in-house is easier said than done.
- Long-term adoption and maintenance aren’t taken into account: After development and testing comes not only adoption, but also ongoing support and updates. Plenty of companies forget to consider a software’s longevity beyond the first iteration, resulting in software that will need to be replaced again down the line or broken features that go unresolved.
- A stale product: Software needs and customer trends shift over time, so IT teams need to be agile enough to respond to unexpected changes along the way – not only for their business, but for the channel that might rely on this application for managing service contract data. Companies that wait to iterate final products are likely to be caught flat-footed and unable to keep up with evolving software trends.
Even global IT organizations with vast resources find that a build-it-yourself mentality can’t match their pressing, fluctuating revenue management needs. For businesses still on the fence about DIY software, third-party vendors can deliver customized tools based on a your desired goals, workflows and revenue management nuances.
Third-party vendors combine the best of both DIY and commercial products – you get the tailored solution you want without having to stress about building it yourself. Contact MMI’s team of contract management experts to learn how we can help develop and deploy the tools you need to meet your contract and service renewal goals.