4 August 2022

Should You Choose an ISV or Customize Microsoft Standard Solutions?

ISV vs Customized Solution


As an ISV partner, one challenge you may constantly face could be the need to satisfy your customers' demands while struggling with limited development resources and time. And you often find yourself in a 'Build vs. Buy dilemma,' i.e., should you work on customizing the standard solution or purchase an ISV (Independent Software Vendor) solution.

With an experience that spans almost two decades, our deep domain expertise, and the experience of working with multiple partners across the globe, at To-Increase, we understand how important this decision can be for you.

This article will help clear the 'Build vs. Buy dilemma' so that you can maximize operational efficiency, overcome resource constraints, and, most importantly, grow your business. It will also help you understand the best route to choose when you have a customer requirement for multiple solutions.

How to decide between an ISV solution and customized solution?

To make this decision, answer the following questions:

1.    What is the go-to-market timeline for your customer?

Today's customers don't just want the best solution; they want it quickly and done right. If you decide to take the custom route, be prepared to start from scratch, from gathering customer requirements to doing design sessions and then developing the solution from the ground up. Do you have the luxury of time? If yes, you could consider customized solutions.

On the other hand, when you have tight deadlines to meet your customer's go-to-market strategy, you would benefit from buying a readymade solution from an ISV. Not only does it save your time and cost but also meets your customers' needs quickly. In short, they can achieve a faster go-to-market rate.

2.    Do you have the domain expertise?

This is a decisive factor because you could be misleading your customers if you do not have the expertise and implementation knowledge.

Let's consider an example of a PLM-ERP integration. If you don't know the ins and outs of the integration process and try to build knowledge quickly, it might take your customers on the wrong path. You also have to consider the usability and acceptance tests with customers. If you do not know how to use the solution, you could get into endless loops of reiteration to get the usability to a level that's easy to adapt. Your trial and error methods may cause customer dissatisfaction and, worse, never-ending improvement requests.

On the other hand, when you choose a PLM-ERP integration solution from an ISV, such as To-Increase, we use the concept of proven solutions. Apart from testing solutions in and out from the code perspective, our deep domain knowledge helps us understand what customers need. Having spent 1000s of hours on testing and usability, we can cater to your customers' exact requirements on the Dynamics 365 ERP.

3.    Do you have dedicated resources to build documentation?

When you opt for custom development, ensure that you have the time and resources to create extensive documentation for end customers. It's also possible that the documentation is forgotten, and that's not something your customer would appreciate.

Keep in mind that you will have to build custom documentation that matches the specific requirements of each customer. While developers may enjoy building the solution, if you expect them to double up as documentation specialists, then be aware that it may not be a task that they particularly enjoy. Also, if they have to balance several priorities, it would only end up delaying the documentation process.

On the contrary, documentation is part of an ISV solution, and the ISV takes care of providing all the relevant material and training so that you are equipped to help your customers use the solution without any hiccups.

4.    Have you considered the customer's regulatory requirements?

Your customers may have regulatory requirements to meet or have additional market requirements. For instance, sustainability is key in the manufacturing space.

So, there's every chance that they may ask for additional features after you have built the customized solution.

With an ISV that stays focused on being competitive, these additional features are already inbuilt, as they know the market and the industry quite well. With an ISV solution, your customers get more value for money as they have access to additional features that come with the solution.

5.    Have you factored in the cost of maintenance?

You may probably factor 10% of the initial development costs to cover annual maintenance. But is that enough? Microsoft has made its release cycles faster; there's more innovation, more integrations, and this pace is only going to increase rapidly. Are you prepared to handle these rapid changes, which would also mean changes to the customizations you've already worked on? Your developers may not look forward to working on routine maintenance tasks.

Also, your expenses will multiply as your custom solutions cater to different requirements of customers, and it would be challenging to stay up to date with all the changes in the Microsoft Standard solution and build a practice of rigorous testing before deployment.

With an ISV, you do not have to worry about maintenance or changes from Microsoft. The ISV takes care of working with Microsoft to ensure that the solution stays updated. So, you can still appear custom to your end customer without the additional hassles of ensuring your code stays up to date.

If you have the luxury of time and answered 'yes' to questions 2-4, then you are well equipped to take the custom route. But if you've answered 'no' to even one of them, you might want to reconsider your decision to build customized solutions.

Can an ISV take care of all the requirements of your customers?

You may wonder if an ISV can meet all your customers' requirements every single time. Occasionally, you may get a requirement for a specific feature that may not be available in an ISV solution. But in 80-90 percent of cases, the ISV can fulfill the requirements. Most often, your customer's requirement could be a nice-to-have feature rather than a mandatory one.

We recommend applying the 80/20 rule for decision-making and focusing on maximizing your business impact.

The next steps

If you want to go ahead with a custom-built solution, clearly state your requirements. More importantly, avoid assumptions as you may miss out on getting essential features that you assumed would be added and end up spending more.

If you want your resources to focus on their core expertise, you might want to consider incorporating the ISV solution in your offering. Also, with an ISV, the development and maintenance costs depreciate over time, unlike a customized solution.

As a partner, you know that working with a competent ISV can make a huge difference to your customers. An ISV that offers a whole range of solutions that can satisfy your customers' requirements makes perfect business sense, as it is profitable for you as well.

You may have more questions, and understandably so! If you are an existing To-Increase Partner or would like to partner with us, do not hesitate to reach out to us.

Got  more questions? Talk to our Partner Alliance Manager.

Kati Hvidtfeldt
Kati Hvidtfeldt,
Kati Hvidtfeldt,
Strategic Alliance Executive, Sales

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