Are you looking into developing your own mobile sales solution for your wholesale or manufacturing business? Have you heard the sentence “That’s really simple. I can develop it for you in no time” from your IT, a consultant or a system integrator?
I know, the thought of defining exactly what you want, getting exactly what you need and then owning it without relying on a software vendor or paying to one can seem quite appealing.
And in some cases it may be the right decision.
But there are a few reasons why it is not. Here are a few things you should consider when trying to decide.
1. Can we get a field-hardened, proven solution?
Are your needs really unique? Is there a widely-used solution out there – one that has been used by companies similar to yours, for several years? If this is the case then buying this solution will provide you with something that is tried and tested – and as you probably know, when it comes to software, that is a huge advantage. While beta testing may be fun for some, it can also be costly and time consuming.
2. How expensive and time-consuming will it be to add additional capabilities? What will we need a year from now? 2 years from now?
So you think you know what your needs are. For example, you have sales reps visiting retail stores and taking orders. Easy, right? But is that all you’re going to need a year from today? Already there’s talk about having the sales reps doing other things when they visit a customer. “Yes,” you say “but it’s going to be a year before I have to deal with that”. What you need to remember, though, is that this will mean a whole new project, expenses and, of course, going through beta testing again.
3. How flexible is the solution?
When developing a bespoke solution, tailored for your needs, developers will usually leave little room for flexibility. As the solution is developed just for you, and you have clearly stated what you want, they have no reason to complicate things by allowing you, for example, to add and remove fields from a form, to modify workflows that you’ve defined, or by supporting languages you don’t currently use. But hey, what about your plans to start working with the Latin American market next year? Or what if management wants you to add a couple of fields to the form? Yes, you guessed it – it’s back to the developers and... beta testing.
4. Whose experience is the solution based on? Do we know what the best practices are?
Buying a software solution is an opportunity for your organization. Widely-used software solutions usually evolve based on the needs and requirements of their users – in this case, organizations similar to your own. So by looking at commercial solutions you will benefit from how other companies are operating. For example, you may find out that an order taking solution offers upsell and cross-sell tools that can greatly benefit your business results – something you wouldn’t have thought of adding to your order taking in-house developed software.
5. What will happen when there is a new device or operating system in the market?
Mobile sales apps run on mobile devices. If you develop your own mobile app, you have to develop it for all the devices your users may want to use it on. Today and in the future. Even if you buy a specific device for the use of your entire user base, version updates of the operating system will require you to keep updating the software you developed – and this, again, means more money and more time.