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In-house vs Off-the-shelf Procurement Software

When making a case for the best procurement software investment, any business with a sizeable IT function will inevitably need to consider building that software in-house or using a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) system.

Either option should prove better than relying on manual processes or a system that no longer fits its purpose. However, unless there are some very specific circumstances or unique business requirements, then the case for COTS is generally overwhelming, as demonstrated in the diagram below, plotting the relative strengths against four key benefits:

Deep Domain Expertise

In recent years, the best procurement software has evolved as vendors work closely with leading procurement professionals, taking advantage of their knowledge and experience. That expertise is helping the procurement systems to be consistently refined and updated to improve features, process enablement, time savings, and usability.

Does your IT team have the expertise and knowledge to fully understand how a successful procurement or finance system should look?

Known Unknowns

Developing any system without experience or user knowledge will always be a challenge, and often, your team will not know what they have missed until the project ends. Furthermore, any future development, refinement, or improvement is subject to a whole new project which limits the capabilities, updates, and necessary changes needed to keep up with the ever-changing procurement function.

Solution Fit

If your procurement or finance team has specific and strict requirements, it may seem like it will be challenging to find a COTS system that will fit your needs and budget. However, before making any decisions, your business should check what is out there first. The procurement and supply chain software market offers exceptional functionality and flexibility across various solutions at competitive market rates.

Market analysis from prominent industry analysts, such as Gartner, can help narrow down the options and identify the best solution applicable to your firm’s needs and requirements.

Time to Market

Even the most motivated, experienced, and well-run IT development teams with clear and comprehensive specifications can run into delays, as they are usually very busy with many other ongoing projects. On the other hand, most best-in-class procurement software providers have many years of experience delivering both the software and the change management necessary to deliver a successful project.

Risk, Cost, and Savings

When developing any solutions, there is a high risk of the project taking longer than anticipated and, as a result, costing more than buying a COTS solution. In addition, any delay of the implementation and go-live process will decrease the project returns, with lost opportunities for savings, controls, and process enhancements.

Additionally, it may often be challenging to secure the needed development resource for the whole project, including planning, designing, development, and implementation, due to high demand within the business and other high-priority projects.

However, some would argue that building a solution will minimize the issues and costs when integrating with the necessary systems and data sources already used within the business. Technology integration has advanced rapidly in recent years, and solutions such as Medius Connect platform now allow organizations to integrate with existing finance and any other third-party systems.

So, which one is it?

No one answer fits all when it comes to finding the best software. Building and buying any solution will always involve different risks and benefits. The key is to find the right option for your business. So, if you would like to learn more about evaluating the decision, download our white paper or contact us, and we’ll be delighted to talk through the options with you.

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