There are two sides to every story. And when you’re in a build versus buy dilemma, it is always better to weigh all the pros and cons before you budget for a developer/s or employ skilled talent in-house to develop a solution. You have to budget for time, expertise, and effort to build and maintain the solution. Once you build it in-house, you are in a sticky situation if things do not go as planned and then you have to spend even more money to buy a solution.
Several times, our prospects think it is better to build a solution as it can solve their use cases and will also be more cost-effective but over time some of those prospects have come back to us for our integration solution – Connectivity Studio available for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance & Supply Chain Management (D365 F&SCM), D365 BC, AX and NAV.
Therefore, in this blog, we will share advantages and disadvantages of building a solution in-house compared to buying an enterprise-ready solution. Hopefully, this will give you a clear picture of the pros and cons and also help you take a decision best suited for your organization.
Building an integration solution in-house
What are the pros of building integrations for MS D365 in-house?
Can build a tailored solution
When you develop a solution in-house, you can write code for exact issues and use-cases. You do not have to adapt or configure the solution like you would with an enterprise-ready integration solution. The solution will be predictable. An enterprise ready solution offers a host of features, all of which you might not need or use but with a tailored solution you can build exactly what is needed.
However, this can also be a disadvantage when a new challenge arises. If you want to fix another issue, the code is not necessarily hundred percent reusable. So, if you have a similar challenge, let’s say it differs only 5%, you still have to adapt that code and that can be expensive and time-consuming. Whereas configurations in such cases are way faster.
If you have a development team and you know exactly what you need to build and have the management buy-in, then you can start working on the coding. Whereas with an enterprise solution, you need to first do your research, shortlist a few top integration solutions, schedule a demo, then wait till you can implement and get your team trained on how to use the solution. After that, you need some time to customize the solution and configure the integrations which can be done in-house or with the support of the Solution Consultants.
Easier to manage in-house
You save time and money trying to explain the process you want to an external party to do the development for you. An external party will not have visibility into how your organization works, what are the day-to-day challenges, which solutions need to be integrated, and so on. So, if your developer understands issues in business and has clarity of your organization’s challenges across teams, then your team can develop a solution for these exact challenges.
Cost-effective if it is an easy solution
If the integration requirement is relatively easy and doesn’t involve layers of complexity, then building a solution in-house would be more cost-effective. When the requirements start getting complex, then you need to spend more time and money on development and then building a solution in-house is not sustainable and starts getting more expensive.
No recurring license costs
With a project built in-house, you do not have to spend on licenses for an enterprise-ready integration solution. Your cost is the annual salary of the developer/s. Additionally, your developers can be working on other projects as well based on priority.
What are the cons of building integrations for MS D365 in-house?
Expensive if the solution requirements are complex
People underestimate the complexity of the integration and they start developing it in-house to save cost and soon realize that building it in-house is actually more expensive. Down the line, a new requirement will be discovered, and the new code will need to be adjusted because code is not always versatile. We recommend a build-as-you-go approach, where the code used is more versatile. A low-code solution such as Connectivity Studio allows you to do that.
If you don’t have all the requirements in the beginning, then you need to make allowances for the budget later. Additionally, if you need more than one developer, then building a solution in-house is not a cost-effective idea.
We would like to share an experience with a customer to explain this pain point. Our sales team reached out to an organization that had a complex integration requirement and a very talented developer in-house. They did not opt for our solution as the developer reasoned that he could build the solution. The solution was built in-house and then the developer left the company. They were in pain because no one had the expertise in code to make any fixes or upgrades. So, when they had integration failures, there was nobody to fix it. And then all the regulation stopped. So, then after having built a solution in-house, they also had to spend more money and time to buy and implement our solution afterwards.
So, although some people might consider owning the source code and development as an advantage, you also need to ensure a proper handover is done in such situations as code can be messy, especially if you have to understand the code from someone leaving the company. Having the right strategy and building the solution in-house and owning the code 100 percent binds you to the solution.
If you want to work on customization and develop features in Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP after the investment that you made, there might be some back and forth to get it right. Let’s say you work on some code and deploy it for another machine. So, the new code is not necessarily built to be accepted by the machine and then moved for production. If something goes wrong between these stages, you might have to go back to the development stage. And then develop the new code and release it again. So, it is a game of trial and error when you are building a new solution.
If you invest in an enterprise-ready solution like ours then all of the heavy lifting has already been done for you. You can release it by clicking some buttons and no coding or development is needed in that case.
It is difficult to maintain
Organizations that decide to build integrations in-house usually start with the developer approach, and then realize that they don't have the skills or expertise as the requirements increase so they hire a freelance developer to maintain their integration. But then that can become a challenge as the freelancer has no visibility of your business operations.
Let’s say the freelance developer did a good job, and the solution is not facing issues, but that kind of success is quite difficult to achieve practically. This also makes you dependent on the developer and the solution is not an in-house solution entirely.
Difficult to keep up with Microsoft updates
Every time the Microsoft platform updates, you have to test your solution and see if there are any fixes required for it to work. You have to check the solution you built is still compatible based on whatever new features that have been added by the Microsoft team.
To do this, you need to have an extra system that will just install the newest platform updates. You will have to test the code and ensure it doesn’t break.
It’s hard to scale
Let's say as you scale, you may have new legal entities which could be acquired, or you could be expanding to newer regions or launching new products. So, there will be changes to your business requirements and you will need to streamline all your business processes. Therefore, you will need to make changes to your custom-built integration solutions as well, which means more development and testing.
Every time you need to integrate with a new system, you need to develop and write new code or adjust your code, whereas with an enterprise solution like ours, you can configure the integrations and also monitor them.
Difficult to translate the requirement into action
Every customization is backed by a solid business need, but we have often seen the functional and technical teams struggling to achieve it on the first go. Let’s say, the business has identified a point of integration that is relevant such as the synchronization of information between logistics and Dynamics 365, so that accurate and updated shipment information is available in the ERP. The business team explains this requirement to the developer, but the developer writes a program that doesn’t quite meet the requirement due to the lack of functional knowledge. Most of the time, there is a loss in translation, but with cursive sessions, they can get it right.
Implementing an enterprise ready solution
The global system integration market size is expected to reach 955.21 billion by 2030, expanding at a CAGR of 13.2% from 2022 to 2030. So, people realize the limitations of building an integration solution in-house and are exploring or moving to an enterprise-ready integration software.
Pros of implementing an enterprise-ready solution
Handles standard processes for Microsoft D365 ERP
All our functionality is built in a way that needs to respect D365 Logics. So, we have the logic built-in, and all our solutions are very easy to use and offer the same user experience as Microsoft D365 so the learning curve is quicker.
Will offer pre-built connectors
An integration solution should ideally offer pre-built connectors so that transferring data between systems is easier. Using Connectivity Studio for D365 F&SCM you can use database, file system (folders), web services, email, and data connection with ODBC.
Pre-built integration tutorials
Having ready integration tutorials gives you a real headstart. Since we have tutorials that make it easier for our customers to configure their integrations, they are 70% ahead compared to an organization that needs to build integrations from scratch. With the tutorials, our customers need to adjust a minor percentage of their integrations and that saves our customers a lot of time and effort.
Saves time and resources
Our customers have shared that within three months of implementing our Connectivity Studio solution, they have saved and covered the licenses cost for the first year. They calculate that they had 5 people working on integrations full-time earlier and were spending a lot more for their hourly wages. So, investing in an enterprise-ready solution saved them time, money, and resources. And in about six months, they recovered the license fees cost for the 2nd year and after that, they were earning a return on their investment using our Connectivity Studio solution for D365 F&SCM.
Support and continuous updates
You can count on a community of people to back you up and share their knowledge and expertise of the solution. Using an enterprise-ready solution in comparison to using a developer in-house is a safer option. If a developer writes the code and leaves your company, and you hire another developer, he might not be able to fix bugs and understand the code. An enterprise such as To-Increase will have a support team, share documents and release notes and other information that will help you get up to speed and help you get started with some training. Additionally, the team will have thorough knowledge and expertise in integration and the ERP.
Cons of implementing an enterprise-ready solution
Difficult to understand implementation costs
If you are unsure about your requirements, implementation costs can be extremely high. So, we recommend reading our implementation pitfalls of application integration blog before you decide to implement or purchase an integration solution.
No enterprise-ready solution is tailored for your organization and will not be 100% plug-and-play as there will be chances you will have to customize the solution to fit your business. Most solutions available are low-code/no-code solutions and work with customizations. These can be done in-house or can be taken care of by To-Increase if you decide to invest in our integration solution for D365 F&SCM.
Dependency on Consultants
When you decide to purchase a solution, you need to invest time and money to understand how to use the solution. To-Increase and other solution providers offer trainings that can help you get up to speed. So, there is a dependency on the Consultant to help you get started.
What are you leaning towards – build or buy?
In this blog, we have hoped to give you a truthful picture of the effort and costs involved in building a solution versus buying a solution with some actual experiences as examples. We hope this helps you understand whether building a solution in-house would be the best decision for your company or whether it is time to scout for an integration solution for Dynamics 365.
If you have a simple requirement, and an easy solution to build with expertise in-house that can be transferred in case of an exit, then building a solution in-house would be the best approach to take. But if you are looking at scaling and foresee complex requirements, we recommend exploring the market for an enterprise-ready solution.
If you do use Dynamics 365 F&SCM and are looking for an integration solution that can also monitor all your integrations, do read our honest review of Connectivity Studio for D365. Additionally, you can also download our factsheet from the link below.