Is IT more focused on buying or building solutions?

1.8k views24 Comments

Advisor | Investor | Former CIO in Services (non-Government), Self-employed
In the world of IT, there's so much more emphasis on buying as opposed to building. That’s the model for IT going forward; there’s much less focus on the heavy-duty R&D work. And it means that you have to be very skilled at orchestration and configuration. But you need some form of architectural discipline. Otherwise, one day you’ll discover that your SAP environment is configured so much that you've customized yourself into a corner, and you're adversely impacting the business. Concerning the security space, the configs that have gone haywire in your environment are an attack surface; so what you thought was secure turns out not to be. That's a tough issue to address because in some respects, the SAPs of the world make it too easy to customize all these configs.
CIO Strategic Advisor in Services (non-Government), 2 - 10 employees
Having gone through that process of building and recreating snowflakes of ERP packages through SAP and Oracle, among others, I have a few scars there. But there are a couple of dynamics to consider. If you look at it from a superficial perspective, there's a buy versus build dynamic. The buying aspect is just dropping everything into one line, which is not reality. Then there's another dynamic that starts to change that, depending on what other components go with it — how much is it tied to your core business, and what is the cost to be able to manage it? And that gets you to the second phase.

If you move from a project perspective to a program or product perspective, you start to realize that while you could customize something, you need to know the cost of that customization over time. And you have to project that cost from day one. If you instill that thinking in your staff, they start to see customization very differently. They’re able to recognize when the cost to customize something outweighs the value we're going to get out of it. That changes the dynamic.
IT Operating Unit Director in Education, 10,001+ employees
Buying, no question at all, at least in hi-ed IT. 10 years ago, maybe 50/50. But now "building" a system almost does not come into discussion for any substantial needs/systems. 
VP of Cyber & IT Infrastructures in Finance (non-banking), 201 - 500 employees
Absolutely buying. This actually allows a dynamic environment. When you put your efforts on building it is usually for a large scale solutions which means putting lots of resources. When a change is required, you will be opposed by management as it will be hard to explain why all that effort should now be thrown away. When buying, the efforts invested are usually way lower thus easier to replace. 
VP, Technology Manager in Education, 10,001+ employees
Our organization  emphasized but over build for several years. This has led to quite a mess of SaaS solutions and frustration from our business partners that they never truly have the solutions they need. Custom built solutions are still necessary but have become they solution of last resort for many teams.
CIO in Consumer Goods, 11 - 50 employees
I think that today, with uncountable tools that you can grab from the market, having a huge Development Team is like trying to reinvent the weel.
Customization is a different chapter from DEVELOPMENT, may be Personalization. In doing these activities you will need a small but broad team (internal and/or external) with flexible capabilities.
On the other hand, we must discuss Low-Code/No-Code apps, I was using one for more than a year, and really is amazing the power and time saver that could be for your IT team.  Sometimes other areas are looking for quick-esay-cheap apps/response, from my perspective that's no longer Development in-house. 
Global CIO in Telecommunication, 5,001 - 10,000 employees
Buying is the focus specially industry is on cloud and SaaS is going trend. 
Director Of Information Technology in Healthcare and Biotech, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
I think IT is more focused on buying a needed proven solution that is customizable to their environment. 
Head of IT Operations in Healthcare and Biotech, 201 - 500 employees
I think the majority of organisations are buy before build these days. There is still very much the need to build your own, specifically in certain markets where you need to be able to offer a difference to retain/attract customers, however even with building your own, you should still be building on reliable products suites.  I.e not starting from scratch. 
VP of IT in Retail, 10,001+ employees
As with everything with IT, it depends. I think there are great commercial solutions out there that provide core capabilities that business needs.  Why build accounting and financial solutions when there are are solutions available?  But if there’s something unique to your company that can give you a competitive edge, build it yourself.  Don’t buy what everybody else is doing.  Find that niche that makes you different, build your own systems and leverage the heck out of that with your customers. In a B2C world, that makes a world of difference. 

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