The Pitfalls of Buying Pre-Made Software

When you’re working on a project with a tight timeline, it can seem really attractive to buy pre-made software to save time. But, there are a number of problems and pitfalls to be aware of before you do this.

Buying Software to Save Time

We need to get the project done now! You’ve stumbled across a piece of software that looks pretty cool, maybe better than what you currently have, and it seems pretty cheap in comparison to your development budget costs. Why would you not buy that software? It certainly will save time, right?

Well, yes and no. There are times when buying software can save time. But, buying software to compliment your development efforts needs to be additive and cooperative, not just a quick fix. It can be part of your overall strategy, but it’s not the quite the panacea you might think.

Let’s talk about why. And, let’s use a new mansion as a metaphor. And, to give some context, let’s say the project we’re working on is a mobile app. We could build it ourselves from scratch, or we could go to one of the template shops and buy a pre-made template.

Nice Mansion Next Year?

Sometimes, we like to consider a pre-made software decision to indicate whether we get what we want now, or later. Would you rather spend the year building a mansion, and get nothing in the mean time, or would you rather have the nice mansion kitchen now? It looks great, why can’t we just plop a mansion kitchen into our existing house?

That’s what purchasing a template might be like. You will certainly get something that looks nice and may be of high quality, but it’s not exactly what you want. It has to be customized, too. Plus, it’s different than what your team might be used to. All software isn’t the same. You’ve just put a new set of software created by someone else into your team’s hands. You can’t expect them to immediately understand it and integrate it. It’s going to take some time.

Let’s explain it like this. In your kitchen, you’ve got an old rickety stove, and some bent pans, but you can always make your favorite dish in 20 minutes. Food’s great, but I mean, the kitchen is nothing to look at. Then, someone drops a brand new mansion kitchen in your lap. Suddenly, the oven is much hotter, the pans aren’t where you thought they’d be, you’re cooking with gas instead of electric, when you turn around you can’t actually reach the stove. It’s a nicer kitchen, sure, but can you make your meal in the exact same 20 minutes?

Why not? The kitchen is nicer, newer?

The Long Haul

When you purchase software, you have to make sure it matches with your team’s plan. Something can look great to you, but does it actually solve the problems? Does it make the job harder in the long run? What other trade-offs are you making? To get the quick, bright, flashy nice thing, you might find yourself spending more money, more time and getting an inferior product in the long run.

Now, I’m not against purchased software. But it needs to be part of your overall plan.

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