Saturday, September 12, 2015

To Build Versus Buy

Over the course of time that Management systems have evolved - at least in my years of exposure - there seems to always be the question - Build vs. Buy.

I have been in 3 different scenarios that show different perspectives as to where these views come from.  These perspectives include:

  • Product Company
  • Integrator
  • End User

 Product Perspective

From a product perspective, many tend to believe that the product is close enough to the 80% rule that the question of build versus buy should never come up.  In fact, some believe strongly enough to count the end user out as eccentric or lacking. Or they are intimidated by the Integrator.

I always liked the possibilities I could bring about with Log Matrix NerveCenter.  And the functions I put into the menus of HP OpenView.

Some products painted themselves in a corner. Like Netcool OMNIbus.  When they aligned to Telco oriented standards, they mandated to problems outside of the telco realm had to adapt to the Telco standards.   For example, color coding of Severity. But then again, not everything has a real severity or conforms so much to event management.

Some product companies are skeptical and somewhat intimidated by premier Integrators.  Instead of listening to the requirements and approaches, then embracing change, they will shun it.

As an Integrator, I was avoided, patronized, and shunned.  A few select product companies embraced my approaches.

As an end user, product companies seemed a bit taken aback when I told them their product doesn't scale.  Or doesn't fit.  Sometimes to the point of having their lawyers call me (Kinda weird).  And I've seen Sales folks do all sorts of things in lieu of fixing the technical issues.  Like a visit to your VP.  Or a talk with your CEO.  You know you've been sandbagged when your VP comes in with a bunch of glossies and tells you to evaluate this or that.


As an Integrator, products are viewed as something they can use to deliver a value add. While there are a lot of Integrators that prefer to just do installation and setup, the premier Integrators are always looking for products that create a difference.  That segregates them from others.

From an Integrator perspective, I always strived to achieve success for both my team and my customer.  Sometimes, that takes a bit of work. And some thinking out of the box.

Sometimes, it was with a product and its capabilities.  Other times, I did my own code.

In the industry, there are a few folks out there that take products out of the box, put some code around them to integrate with other products or to add capabilities, and sell that and services around the extended capabilities and services.   Product companies don't always know how to leverage these folks or even consider them viable.

End User

From an end user perspective, some products just don't scale enough to make it.  Or they lack critical capabilities. And yes, price can be a factor.

I've been in places that could not use commercial products without significant work to make it work. For example, I know of a place that had 8 separate and distinct eHealth instances. And they ended up with 8 people supporting the product.

In instances where Build has evolved into a viable option, cost, capabilities, and scalability are the primary reasons.

In the immortal words of Larry Wall -- "There's more than one way to do it!".  Product companies don't have a stranglehold on innovation.  In many cases, quite the opposite is true. Its hard to do something different if the product does 50% or less of what the requirement is if it means refactoring and redeveloping code.  In fact, many developers consider that the product is done once coded.  Of the ones that have evolved, you see a lot of refactoring and reworking to achieve more capabilities and scale.

In Summary... EMBRACE the Innovator.

Product Companies - Use these Innovators to expand horizons, empower repeatable integrations, and drive solutions over tools.

Integrators - Want to get to the next level? Get you some Innovators and start productizing your Value Add.

End Users - Use Innovators to work through problems and get to solutions.  Tools aren't much it they don't fit your organization form and function and its workflow.  Innovators do that.  Embrace innovations that enhance your business in meaningful and distinctive ways. Keep driving efficiency and customer satisfaction up.