By: Dave Devitt on July 11th, 2018
Enterprise Automation: Choosing Between Packaged vs. Custom-Built Enterprise Software
In an increasingly competitive and technology-driven business landscape, companies are turning to automation to become more efficient and gain the edge over their rivals. According to consulting firm McKinsey & Company, business automation technologies, such as robotic process automation (RPA), can see an ROI of 30 to 200 percent in the first year alone.
When done right, enterprise automation can give your organization an arsenal of competitive advantages:
- Speed: Automation can complete many of your complex business processes within seconds or minutes, orders of magnitude faster than human employees. This allows IT service providers to offer shorter resolution times for their service-level agreements (SLAs).
- Accuracy: By removing manual error from the equation, enterprise automation can make your business processes much more accurate. This is particularly important for financial processes and others that depend on a high degree of precision.
- Cost: Automated software agents may cost up to $15,000/year, a fraction of a human employee’s salary. They can get more things done at less expense to your business.
Although the advantages of using enterprise automation are undeniable, the specific details of the implementation will be individual to each company. While some businesses will find value in packaged enterprise automation software, others will prefer a custom-built solution.
This article will discuss the differences between packaged and custom enterprise automation software, so that you can make the choice that’s right for your business.
Enterprise Automation: Packaged vs. Custom
The “build vs. buy” dilemma is always relevant when choosing to deploy a new enterprise software solution. Weighing your options in advance is important, especially if you’re a large enterprise. The more employees that you have, the more you’ll be paying in software license fees if you choose a packaged software solution.
Of course, partnering with a custom software provider is also a major investment, so you should have a solid idea of what you need before you begin the development process.
Both packaged and custom automation software have their advantages and disadvantages. In the next two sections, we’ll discuss the most relevant considerations for your business in regards to each one.
Packaged Enterprise Software: Pros and Cons
- Once employees have been trained on the use of the software, you can start rolling it out immediately across your enterprise.
- Packaged software can benefit from many different ideations and customer feedback. You can get immediate references to understand how helpful (or not helpful) users have found certain solutions.
- Many packaged software solutions are “one size fits all,” which can be convenient if you don’t have special requirements.
- If you have to obey industry regulations such as HIPAA or Sarbanes-Oxley, packaged software may already come with compliance baked in.
- You have to pay an annual fee for use of the software, which is more expensive for larger enterprises.
- Almost all packaged software is open-source, which makes it difficult to customize exactly how you’d like it to be. Whether it’s integrations, reporting, or the general user experience, you’ll almost certainly want to work around some aspect of the software.
- The inflexibility of packaged solutions might require you to change your internal processes to accommodate the software, rather than the other way around.
- “One size fits all” solutions typically have more features than you need, which means you’re paying for things you don’t actually use.
Custom Enterprise Software: Pros and Cons
- Unlike packaged software, custom-built software is designed from the get-go to fit into your company’s internal processes. It’s much easier to integrate with your existing software.
- Instead of waiting for the vendor to release updates, you can make the changes immediately. Because you have ownership of the code, you don’t even have to work with your original development partner.
- Custom software can have all the features you need—now and in the future. It can scale with your business, instead of having to purchase add-ons or additional software licenses as your company grows.
- Working with a custom development partner typically costs you more in capital expenses upfront. However, you’ll save on operating expenses such as licensing and maintenance fees.
- Custom software can take longer to roll out. However, you can roll it out in waves and add new features as they’re developed.
- You need to plan the development process carefully. If you don’t get the right feedback from key stakeholders, it can cause scope creep or leave you with a product that you’re ultimately unhappy with.
How to Decide Which is Right for You
Both packaged and custom enterprise automation software come with an extensive list of pros and cons. Packaged software is a good choice for organizations that have fewer unique business needs and objectives. Meanwhile, custom software is likely best for businesses that have specific features in mind, or that are planning to grow in the near future. Decide which qualities are most important to you for your next enterprise automation project, and then go with the solution that has those qualities.
Whether you choose a packaged or custom enterprise automation solution, the important thing is that you make an educated decision. Be sure to weigh all of your options beforehand, and speak with a knowledgeable development partner if you have questions about what custom software can do for your business.