Build or Borrow – How Should You Go About Custom Software Development?


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As a technology leader, you are certainly made to take tough decisions, as a part of your job. And, not to miss the toughest of all – facing the board of members, proving the ROIs across IT budgets spent!

It’s that time of the year again!

It’s time to make those important decisions and prove them right!

Building custom software that serves as an integral part of your technological growth, is one of those crucial decisions.

The global custom software development market size is expected to reach USD 146.18 billion by 2030, registering a CAGR of 22.4% from 2023 to 2030. ~ According to a new study conducted by Grand View Research

If you have already made it, this isn’t for you.

But if you are contemplating the smarter alternatives to build custom software, then this is for you.

You will find nothing related to –

“What is custom software?”

“How do you build custom software?”

“How to choose a custom software development company?”

We believe that you have already made those calls.

What is in here for you, is –

“How do you right-size the approach for custom software development?”
“What metric to track the success of custom software development?”

It is tough to right-size the approach!
It is tougher to do it within limited budgets!
It is toughest to face the board to prove it all!

Bad news – You got to do it, anyway!

Good news – You will have a success metric to prove your call, by the time you reach the end of this piece. (Voila!)

Let’s begin!

Build vs Borrow – Rightsizing the Approach!

Before entering the debate of rightsizing the approach, it is essential to begin by setting the right expectations.

How do you set the expectations right?

Simple – pose the following questions to yourself.

Does the technical feasibility align with the business objectives?
Do we have the domain/technical expertise available at ease?
What is expected the time-to-market, indicating success?

Ready with your answers?

Now, let’s explore Build and Borrow, one by one!

Build – As the name suggests, this approach refers to building an in-house team of experts to develop custom software in-house.

Building a team of expert professionals in-house to turn your IT vision into reality – there is nothing like it!

But it also involves the risk of –

  • Landing wrong hires
  • Sudden data breaches
  • Losing track of progress
  • Inability to scale the team size
  • Painful micro-management overheads
  • Administrating, maintaining and retaining the hires

Borrow – Partner with a technology company to borrow the expertise as an extension of your in-house team.

Having a technology partner is yet another reliable choice.

But it also involves the risk of

  • Breach of integrity
  • Hefty hidden charges
  • Lacking domain expertise
  • Losing the track of project
  • Surprisingly painful exit clauses

With the risks exposed in both approaches, you might feel that you are in a better shape to make your call.

But do not forget that your business requirements are bound to change over time.

You can’t really be rigid while choosing the approach, as there must be flexibility that allows you to cope with changing business needs.

Now, that you know the risks involved in both approaches, let’s understand the metrics to track the success of your bespoke software development.

The Success Metric

No matter if you choose to Build an in-house team or Borrow specialized expertise from a technology partner, the success metric won’t lie.

The metric brings the outcome to light, to make success more tangible for you.

Factoring IT Investments

IT investments are factored in two ways –

  • Cost first and benefit second
  • Benefit first and cost second

This parameter helps you in deriving the progression of your IT endeavours.

If your organization factors IT investments on cost first and benefit second basis – You must focus on saving costs at the possible instances.

Because Cost is the parameter that your IT investments are being judged upon.

If you organization factors IT investments on benefit-first and cost-second basis – You must focus on harnessing the maximum value of your investments.

Because Benefit is the parameter that your IT investments are being judged upon.

Restructuring ROI

ROI is often confused as a standalone parameter denoting the success or failure of any investment.

And, even worse, ROIs are still calculated with the same old formula –

Net Returns Gained/Investments Made

You need to realize that this only gives you a partial picture in terms of commercial investments made.

Major parameters such as –

  • Workflow optimization
  • User/Customer satisfaction
  • Process level improvements
  • Productivity gained & man hours saved

These factors get lost in the dust of revenue yielded off the IT investments.

Thinking how this can be solutionized?

Simple – devise ROI goals into two categories –

  • Revenue generating goals
  • Value generating goals

Revenue-generating goals depict the commercial benefits that you gain from IT investments made.

And value-generating goals depict the impact that you harness off those investments.

The Cost of Rework

Cost of rework – the most significant factor that often goes unnoticed while measuring the success of IT investments.

Cost of Rework = Time, Effort, or Money spent on redoing something as you couldn’t do it right the first time.

Rework is the byproduct of –

  • Inadequate communication in the team
  • Lacking technical/domain expertise
  • Unclear requirements

It’s essential to proactively calculate the possibilities of rework, to save on the cost of rework in your custom software development journey.


Time-to-market is the last yet the most significant parameter of the success metric.

It can rather be referred to as the decider for the approach of Build or Borrow.

There are a lot of consequential implications that delayed time-to-market drives, such as –

  • Losing prime prospecting customer to a competitor
  • Losing an existing customer’s trust
  • Losing market share

When you think of consequences beforehand, you already know what is there at stake.

And, that is the reason, why time-to-market is the last yet most significant parameter of the success metric.

A Quick Recap

We have given you the success metric –

  • Factoring IT Investments
  • Restructuring ROI
  • The Cost of Rework
  • Time-to-Market

We are confident that you are now empowered to foresee the success of your custom software development endeavours with the success metric at your disposal.

You must put the right values across, and you know where your development initiative is heading.

Still, if you have any difficulties navigating the customized software development, do let us know. We would be more than happy to help you.

Read More – Effective Tips for Start-ups to Reduce Software Development Costs

Abel Willium
A highly motivated and ambitious professional who comes with a robust and resilient personality. I'm responsible for devising marketing strategies for the profitable growth of the company. I also ensure campaign execution, monitoring the marketing channel budgets against projected plans, continuously optimizing the marketing channels, and striving to push them to an auto-pilot mode of lead inflow where minimum intervention is required.


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