Strategic commentary

Should you build or buy a Strategy Execution Platform?

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Are you reviewing your approach to managing Strategy Execution? Are you considering whether to build or buy an enterprise-level strategy solution? Here’s what you need to consider for your business case when it comes to making that decision.

Written by: James Milsom, Digital Marketing Manager

“Why would I purchase a Strategy Execution Platform when we have the resource in house to build our very own?”

If your organization has a CRM, ERP or software solution of a similar ilk, these words will have been ushered at some point during your decision-making process. Despite senior leaders increasingly using data to back choices, gut instinct can still prevail.

You need a serious piece of software to help execute your strategy – an enterprise-level Strategy Execution management solution. Maybe you’re replacing an existing solution, or perhaps you’ve decided to move away from the traditional approach that involves unsecure, error-prone PowerPoint and Excel spreadsheets, but there is an appetite in your business to consider building your own.

Many companies fall into this trap. Should you buy something off the shelf (but customized) that is tried and tested and fits your needs, or should you pay a huge amount of money to start from scratch and create something for your business?

The elephant in the room: ultimately the decision comes down to control and cost

If you decide to build your own, you get to define the entire process and create deeply customised software. But this comes with a huge cost.

If you select a leading Strategy Execution solution, this comes with less cost. One would assume that this means less control, but at i-nexus we offer a fully customised, enterprise-ready strategy solution.

As organizations explore how to digitalize and transform their Strategy Execution capability by deploying a software platform that can help cascade strategy, performance manage its execution and ensure ongoing alignment– the inevitable question of build versus buy emerges.

Whether prompted by an internal IT team using one of the new breed ‘you can build anything with our cool workflow/spreadsheet/magic software’ or a zealous vendor-lead marketing campaign promising the Earth from its magic beans software – it is important to consider the options.

Using data to guide your decision

I’m a strong believer in facts over feeling.

When faced with a seemingly conservative option of buying software vs. building one tailored to your every need in-house, it’s easy to be swayed by the bright lights of ‘getting exactly what you need’.

But there is a subtlety that is worth shining a light on.

Take your CIO/CTO. They may recoil at the thought of another large-scale, resource-intensive project which may have a 12-month road-map, but mis-captured requirements and shifting objectives for the system will quickly erase the silver-lined cloud.

And this is only the beginning:

  • Inexperienced development teams underestimate time and costs
  • You may be attempting to fix the wrong problem – the air gap between strategy and execution is a large enough challenge, adding the complexities of building a solution to this will seriously dampen your chances of meeting your strategic goals or putting out the fires across the company

Still not convinced that building is a costly, risky endeavor? Let’s look at the pros and cons…

Compare and contrast – build vs. buy

Traditionally, these are the advantages and disadvantages of build/buy you’ll reach:

To build

  • Your developers/IT team know your organization best
  • You’ll get exactly what your organization needs*
  • You can ensure compatibility with every system you have*

To buy

  • Building a Strategy Execution system will be expensive, and that’s not including the undiscovered once you’ve completed a requirements analysis
  • You’re unlikely to gain competitive advantage by building – meaning your resource is distracted from the real goal of superior growth
  • Ensuring system compatibility will mean added time to build and deploy, and custom-built APIs can be troublesome
  • Customer support, implementation, reduced total cost of ownership the list goes on…the added value of purchasing enterprise software cannot be overlooked

*This is typically a jumping off point where senior leaders dive into the building option, but with i-nexus this is a moot point. The i-nexus Strategy Execution solution comes with a methodology agnostic approach and the ability to integrate data set and other systems seamlessly into the Strategy Execution powerhouse, meaning your way of working is kept intact.

A framework to consider

As your organization explores how to digitalize and transform its Strategy Execution capability by deploying a software platform that can help cascade strategy, performance manage its execution and ensure ongoing alignment – the inevitable question of build versus buy emerges.

Whether prompted by an internal IT team using one of the new breed ‘you can build anything with our cool workflow/spreadsheet/magic software’ or a zealous vendor-lead marketing campaign promising the earth from its magic beans software – it is important to consider the options. Use this framework to guide your decision:

  1. Write out the challenge you’re trying to address via the software
  2. Gather your requirements, define the expected outcomes and estimate when you need the solution by
  3. Analyse the gap between internal resource, capability and availability vs the needs of the system (i.e. tools required to build, scalability across your organization, integration with systems, ease of user adoption)
  4. Define the maintenance and total cost of ownership in-house
  5. Research the vendors who can provide your solution and use the list from this blog as your guide of what to look for
  6. Compare and contrast the in-house and purchasing option

Crystalizing the build or buy debate for digitalized Strategy Execution

For those who prefer visuals, here are the considerations to keep in mind in the form of an infographic. For more details on each, read on below:

build or buy a strategy platform

What path will you take?

Building or buying a Strategy Execution Platform, or any software for that matter, isn’t a simple decision.

For organizations seeking to scale their Strategy Execution Software across the whole business, covering countless kaizen events, projects, initiatives and a workforce running into the hundreds, if not thousands, embarking on a build it yourself journey is something we’d strongly advise against.

And if that’s where your decision lands, we’re on hand to support your next steps.

To discuss how i-nexus can support your organization, contact our team of advisors on info@i-nexus.com, or click here to book a call.

Continue your reading around this subject

Introducing a Strategy Execution Platform can be difficult in organizations where comfort with traditional strategy tools remain, however, we have a wealth of resource freely available to guide your journey, such as the below:

About the author

James is i-nexus’ Digital Marketing Manager. Bringing a passion for strategy from a marketing angle, you’ll find he loves to intertwine sports and strategy. His background covers industries such as energy, broadband, education and employee benefits.

If you’d like to talk more about your strategic challenges, reach out to James on james.milsom@i-nexus.com or connect with James on LinkedIn for more strategic insights.