The Challenge Of DIY Software Solutions

November 9, 2019
The Challenge Of DIY Software Solutions

Can’t I Just Build It Myself?

It’s a question that businesses of all sizes consider before committing to a software package. On paper, it seems like a great idea if you can cover the up-front cost in exchange for complete ownership and flexibility over the product. But many companies fail to consider that the total cost of ownership in software isn’t just about the software product itself; it’s also about expertise, ROI and support.

Here are some of the key factors to consider when making the choice between in-house and off-the-shelf solutions.

Risk Of Project Failure

According to a report from the Project Management Institute [PMI] in 2017, 14% of IT projects fail and, 31% of those that don’t fail, do not meet their goals. That’s quite a risk to take.


  • With ownership of building your product also comes the risk of trying to do too much. Overcomplicating the project can lead to issues with budget, functionality and stakeholder satisfaction.
  • Launching a new IT project takes valuable time, budget and resources away from other priorities. A lack of planning and even overplanning can lead to a complete workflow breakdown.
  • Unexpected risks account for 27% of project failures. It’s important to fully understand the requirements for building your own software. An expert team is needed to plan and mitigate for these unknown circumstances.
  • A lack of resources causes 22% of failures. Building an in-house solution means assigning team members to manage the project, both during the build and beyond. They need specialist knowledge and full-time dedication.


  • When consulting a SaaS company you can be confident that a great deal of planning and preparation has gone into the product. You’re getting the finished result.
  • An off the shelf solution has been built by experts. At Raildiary we take pride in the fact that our diverse team is not made up of rail professionals but of UX experts, software engineers and data visualisation specialists.
  • It may not have been built to your exact requirements, but a ready-made solution has the benefit of being based on the feedback of all clients in your field. They could have discovered features that you didn’t even know were possible.

Training & Support

You need to learn, understand and document your own solution before you can train others. A lot of hours go into rolling out a new piece of software to a full project team spanning multiple sites, activities and levels of capability.


  • The extra time needed to create support documents could delay the project even more. Your user processes and technical specifications need to be written before the solution can launch.
  • The additional cost of training could become more draining than an all-in-one package.
  • You need to learn the software before you can train others. Launching a completely new solution means that no one is an expert.


  • Training and support are readily available in a variety of mediums: online, video or in-person.
  • Software companies are constantly updating their support documents to reflect the latest client feedback.
  • Using a package solution means that some subcontractors will already be familiar with it, minimising the need for extra training before every project.

Security & Maintenance

The ongoing commitment of maintaining your software is significant. Technology is always evolving and you need to be on top of the latest developments or risk becoming outdated.


  • The intensive resource needed to maintain software is costly and difficult to provide. Not having the proper staff and time in this area can mean that your maintenance is only reactive, when something breaks, rather than looking ahead for proactive improvements.
  • It’s no surprise that building your own software is a slower process. By the time you’ve built the product or finished a round of updates, the technology could be out of date again.
  • Taking responsibility for the software also means taking responsibility for cybersecurity. Having the proper deterrents, policies and security measures in place is an additional cost to consider. You also need an expert in the company who knows what to do when something goes wrong.

Off the shelf

  • Off the shelf solutions are built by specialists at the forefront of their field. Here at Raildiary we are always looking ahead to the next round of updates that can be made to improve our product and, we know what the latest capabilities in technology are.
  • The cost of updates and additional features is shared by clients.

Other Factors


Building your own software solution is a slow process. The PMI report showed that 49% of IT projects were finished later than scheduled. Why wait when there are solutions ready to go?


A packaged solution doesn’t mean complete inflexibility. Many companies offer customisation and bespoke features to suit your business. The additional cost could be outweighed by the cost of doing it yourself.

Sharing Information

Many product companies are willing to share their learnings from the data they collect, to improve project delivery across the industry. You can benefit from hearing about averages, priority areas or reoccurring risks.

Making Your Choice

If you’re still unsure about the benefits of investing in a SaaS product, we can talk you through it.

Book a quick chat with one of our product specialists to find out more.

Will Doyle


I am an experienced RICS chartered Quantity Surveyor​ with first-hand experience of how the consistent capture and analysis of data can transform global project delivery.

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