Skip to main content

Alfresco Blog

The ISV headache: Build it or Buy it? Meeting the Challenges of Software Feature/ Functionality Delivery

Date: June 30, 2017
Author: Garen Ingleby
Category:Corporate News

Embedding Alfresco Technology in Your Application as an OEM or White Label Partner

In this new blog series, we will focus on uncovering the unique challenges that software product and engineering executives face when building modern applications, and specifically how OEM licensing can help to address those requirements.

One recurring challenge for software product teams is the constant need to prioritize feature requirements based on customer demand, while struggling with finite development resources and limited time.  You need to stay focused on developing your core product while satisfying the critical needs of your most important customers.

Difficult Decisions: To Build or To Buy?

It comes as no surprise that product leaders are constantly weighing the pros and cons of building or buying the features they need to deliver.  If the features and functionality you need are outside your company’s core competency, building can lead to substandard user experiences and a constant race to stay ahead of expanding customer requirements.  Buying certainly has its own challenges, like unknown costs or the risk of being locked into a proprietary technology.

What are some of the most important considerations in a build vs. buy scenario?  Here’s what I’ve learned based on almost twenty years in the IP licensing business.


  • Will it take longer and cost more than we expected? Features that aren’t core are always the first to be delayed and deprioritized.   You may not have the right talent or skill set to realistically build this.
  • What are you skipping in order to build? This could be a big distraction from your core product mission.  You may not want to keep building and supporting this – is it something you can commit to maintaining and enhancing to keep pace with the competition?
  • Can you build it fast enough to outpace and differentiate from our competition? Maybe this is not the optimal focus in terms of maximizing differentiation.
  • Can we stay ahead of customer requirements as they expand over time? It’s important to remember that today’s innovations are tomorrow’s table stakes.  Requirements are not static.


  • Will technology license costs be transparent and align with how you sell our application? You don’t want to be surprised by ballooning costs or be forced to adopt an arbitrary license model that introduces sales friction or administrative burden.
  • Is the licensed technology open or proprietary? Learning and supporting a new technology will impact time to market and operational costs.  A modern development environment and support for industry standards are critical to minimize integration costs.
  • Does the licensed technology give you the flexibility to adapt to changing requirements? It needs to support your strategy and roadmap, not just current tactical requirements.  For example, does the licensed technology make it easy to deploy your application in the cloud?
  • Is the technology extensible, making it easy to integrate with our application? It’s not just your own application, but also integrating with our customers’ environments.  Open APIs and support for modern container and microservices-based architectures might be key considerations.

In summary, it’s important to take a balanced approach when evaluating the pros and cons of build vs. buy.  Cost and time are key factors, but alignment with strategy is equally critical and can often get lost in the scramble to respond to constant customer and internal pressure.

In future posts, we’ll examine the challenges and considerations one by one in more detail. In the meantime, learn more about Alfresco’s OEM Licensing Program.


Share this page on Twitter Share this page on Facebook Share this page on LinkIn Share this page on Email