To Build or To Buy: The Digital Transformation Conundrum

Posted Apr 23rd, 2019

On the road to digital maturity, the question of build vs. buy often arises for many companies when it comes to technology initiatives. And discussions tend to fall into two camps—customization and cost.

Established companies like to perceive themselves as highly unique with any off-the-shelf package requiring extensive customization to meet their specific needs. And cost-conscious companies, who may be in growth mode or perhaps juggling budget against several technology projects at once, might search for a solution with just enough capabilities to fit current or near-term growth.

Though the conversation may be approached from two different angles, the choice is often the in-house to meet needs and keep costs as low as possible. It's a tried-and-true approach. Or is it?

According to a report from the Project Management Institute, 14 percent of IT projects flat out fail. While 31 percent don’t meet goals, 43 percent exceed budgets and 49 percent are late. Then there’s the time, resources and cost required to maintain and grow the infrastructure once the project goes live. And let’s not forget all those contributing to the ongoing care and feeding of the system that have now moved on to other projects or worse—left the company, taking with them cranial documentation they never had time to write down.

When it comes to automated testing, particularly those organizations focused on achieving digital maturity and integrating continuous testing as part of CI/CD, buying is better. Period.

Keeping up with in-house infrastructure is challenging enough, let alone maintaining access to the hundreds upon hundreds of operating system and browser combinations your apps must support. And developers aren’t super patient. They want access to beta and new browser versions as soon as they are released. Good luck when already limited resources have a hundred other action items to complete that are all equally high priority.

There are operating systems, testing infrastructures, languages, platform configurations and integrations with CI platforms…oh, my! Growing into mobile? That requires a mobile testing infrastructure.

A testing infrastructure must be able to go well beyond the basics to support things like parallel testing at any scale and delivering analytics and performance metrics for a 360-degree view from development through launch. It must provide the insight needed to get new apps out the door at lightning speed and optimize for ultimate customer experiences. This can be quite a tall order for most in-house teams.

In the end, it really isn’t a conundrum. When it comes to a digitally mature continuous testing program, buying is always better. Your teams and bottom lines will both thank you.

Written by

Kimberly Falk