The simple reality is that hiring a proven partner like iControl saves you the uncertainty and provides you with the confidence that your project will be predictable in the positive sense of the word: You will know what it will cost, and you can have confidence that the outcome will match your goals.
Build or Partner? Critical Points to Consider When Making Your Decision
Your organization has decided that Information Integration is mission critical for your future, and you are now ready to embrace the concept. That is a big step forward, congratulations!
Whether your Information Integration project is about creating a vendor portal; deploying a VMI solution; implementing pay-on-scan (aka, Scan Based Trading), or upgrading your forecasting and price optimization capabilities, the next question you need to consider is whether to rely on your own solution in-house, or partner with a third party which can provide a packaged Information Integration & Decisions Solution to you.
So should you build it in-house yourself (or expand what you might already have), or partner with a third party? And if it’s the latter, how do you choose the right third party, both in terms of the solution it offers, the support functions it provides, and a cultural fit with your organization?
When Does It Make Sense to Do it Yourself?
In the specific space of Information Integration, building it yourself very rarely makes sense. Experts agree that there are three scenarios under which an in-house solution is the right decision:
Your Needs are Extremely Unique. If your systems or processes are “like nothing the world has seen before”, in the words of Tech Republic’s Jerry Loza, then building in-house might make sense. However, very few retailers or CPG companies fit into this description, and those who might would find it challenging to move forward with meaningful Information Integration – alone or with partner. The good news is that iControl has built its system in a modular fashion so that we can address unique scenarios in a manner that is both cost effective and custom-suited to the individual needs of our clients.
No Solution Like It Exists in the Marketplace Yet. If you are attempting to solve a problem that has never been solved previously, and there are no existing solutions available for you to consider, then building yourself might make sense; obviously, when it comes to information integration & decisions, there is at least one credible solution in the marketplace: iControl
Integration Would Be Nasty Business. If you believe that an interface between your data and a third-party provider would be too difficult to pull off, then its probably not realistic of you to believe that embracing an Information Integration strategy that might involve dozens of partners in the first place. iControl has a great deal of experience working with partners that rely on archaic legacy systems. We have yet to run into an interface we could not solve.
When Does It Make Sense to Partner?
It’s simple. If the following three questions are ones you’d answer affirmatively, you should partner instead of build:
A Partner Would Accelerate Your Time to Market. As Morris Plains wrote in Scientific Computing, “the deciding factor is Build vs Buy is often how the decision will affect the bottom line.” If getting to market fast is a priority; if the ROI on an Information Integration program is high enough in your estimation that delays of any kind will cost you money and put you at a competitive disadvantage, then partnering is right for you.
A Partner Brings Added Value You Need for Success. If you are starting something new and strategically important, you want to stack the deck in your favor. One key consideration is credibility. A strategic partner which has existing programs similar to the one you envision, and relationships with key trade partners whose participation, cooperation and support you need to be successful, can help you ramp up your own program far faster and with many fewer obstacles - increasing your ROI exponentially.
When You’re Not Sure What You’re Building Exactly. If your company’s core competency is selling groceries or general merchandise, or fuel, then it is probably unrealistic to believe you have sufficient expertise to build a “robust, reliable and trusted” application in a sphere that is outside that core competency, the way that an expert provider such as iControl can deliver to you. Don’t overlook the important of your application being trusted. In order to attract trade partners to work with you on your new project, it is crucial that they view participation not as an unknown quality but as something solid and predictable. This is why people choose Subway over a mom & pop hoagie shop. As Morris Plains writes in Scientific Computing, an “ability to focus on core competencies can mean the difference between a software project that is bogged down . . . and a project that successfully hits milestones and makes it to completion.”
When You’re Not Sure What It Will Cost to Build It. A Joint study by Oxford University and Harvard Business School published in September 2011 by Bent Flyvbjerg and Alexander Budzier, concluded that the average cost overrun of an IT project was “27% - but that figure masks a far more alarming one . . . Fully one in six of the projects we studied was a black swan, with cost overruns of 200% on average, and a schedule overrun of almost 70%” The fact is that IT projects are expensive and unpredictable, especially when you are attempting something new and out of the box.
When You Need to Scale. You may have something in place today that "sorta, kinda" meets your needs. If you are serious about Information Integration, however, the most important question you should ask yourself is: Does what I have scale well? Scaling well is about a combination of factors: time, effort and cost to scale up for you and prospective partners, and the costs to maintain both the software and the hardware required - as well as trained and skilled personnel to execute. If you are not sure whether you have the internal bandwidth and human/system resources needed to be successful for the long term, can you risk your company's reputation and the success of the project by trying to do it alone?
The simple reality is that hiring a proven partner like iControl saves you the uncertainty and provides you with the confidence that your project will be predictable in the positive sense of the word: You will know what it will cost, and you can have confidence that the outcome will match your goals. As Morris Plains writes, “Just as it is not efficient or advisable to build your own car, it is not good business to try to build what is already available in the commercial marketplace.”
If you've decided to partner, the next question is who to choose. Click here for a handy checklist of key questions to consider.