Build vs. Buy: Contract Management Software
Many companies have both the drive and wherewithal to solve their own problems, and this frequently involves the development of company-specific software to handle various business operations. There is a raging debate - okay, that might be an exaggeration - but there is definitely disagreement as to whether it makes more sense to build needed software solutions in-house or buy them from an outside source. Here are some of the pros and cons of both approaches when it comes to contract management software:
Pro: Create What You Want
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits to doing your own thing is the fact that it ends up being your own thing. Your company can make exactly what it wants and how it wants it, and this is certainly helpful because only you truly know what it is that your company needs to manage its contracts effectively.
Con: You Might Over Complicate It
The downside to this ambitious endeavor is that the process and ensuing product may become too convoluted. Several people may be trying to provide input and expectations are often unrealistic.
Pro: Spend All the Time You Desire
Just as you can make what you want, you can also spend the time you want perfecting your desired creation. More than likely, if your company is investing dollars into such a project, it is willing to invest some time as well.
Con: It May Never Get Finished
The problem with taking the time to perfect something is that it may never actually reach perfection. Depending on who ends up taking on this task, the reality is that the final deliverable the company expects simply may not get delivered when or as expected.
Pro: Potential Cost Savings
This is probably the biggest reason companies think that building their own solutions is the wisest course of action. If you have fantastic developers in-house who, and here's the kicker, have the time to build what your company needs, then these savings may actually be realized. However, if you have to hire someone from the outside to create your customized solution, there probably won’t be the savings you were anticipating.
Con: Definite Time Drain
Regardless of who gets assigned this DIY project, it will take quite a bit of time to plan and execute. If that lucky person has dual roles or multiple responsibilities, precious time will no doubt be wasted and productivity lost.
Pro: Software Created by Expert Developers
Company leaders may get bogged down in the details that a software development project inevitably entails. However, buying contract management software that is ready-made merely requires a brief leadership meeting for everyone to review and discuss the different options that are available. Plus, with the right research and investment, you can rest assured that the solution has everything your company will want and need to manage a contract portfolio.
Con: It May Not Be Tailored to Your Needs
Okay, so the solution may not actually have everything that your company wants and needs. But, if you select the right solution provider, you will likely find a solution that will solve 80-90% of your contract management problems. And if you select a service that welcomes feedback and uses that input to improve its service, then you can expect to see the software advance over time.
Pro: Tested Implementation Process
In addition to knowing that the software you purchase was specifically designed to facilitate contract management, it is very likely that it is quicker and easier to implement than the homemade version. After all, the service provider should have worked out all of the kinks at that point, so your contract management team can hit the ground running.
Con: Learning How to Use It
It can be overwhelming adding new software and applications into the mix. It always means that there will be more usernames and passwords to remember, as well as new tools and features to learn. Hopefully, the solution you choose will be easy to learn and offer solid support staff and training.
Pro: Outsource Troubleshooting
If you take on the responsibility of creating the software, then you also take on the responsibility of fixing it in the event that something goes wrong. However, a good contract management solution that is purchased from an outside source should provide ongoing technical support and troubleshooting.
Con: Relying on External Support
There are understandable concerns that the external support needed may not always be available. Everyone has probably called the technical support line at some point and heard that awful recording letting you know that service representatives are only available during a specific window of time on weekdays. However, there are reputable, affordable, and frankly preferable contract management providers who understand that things happen past 5 p.m. on Wednesdays, and thus make their support team available 24/7 (hint: choose a provider that does this).
Pro: Continuously Updated & Improved Software
As companies grow and processes change and industries change, new ways of doing things is inevitable, and you will want software that can change with you. If you select cloud-based contract management software, you can count on updates being made to the product so that it is always secure, easy-to-use, and has new features available as contract management needs change, all of this without any disruption to your company. If you build your own software, making updates will require more company investment- both in time and money.
Con: Will Have to Learn New Features
Anytime a software that is used frequently gets updated, it is likely that those who use it will need to spend a few minutes understanding the new (and hopefully improved) functionality. While the time investment to do this is rather small, some people are resistant to change and might not like continuous updates within a software service. Ultimately, though, the benefits should outweigh the effort involved.