Build vs Buy: What to do for your In-App Communication Needs?

Termii Inc.
5 min readOct 13, 2021

The build vs buy puzzle turns up often when you need to add some kind of technology to your stack, in this case, is a good customer engagement/communications platform that’ll help you scale. But then, building a functional customer engagement/communications platform that's detailed requires much time and resources that could probably be used elsewhere. Before deciding if it is better to build a platform from scratch or integrate an existing technology, through this article, we’ll share some factors you may need to consider in solving this dilemma.

Top of this list is The Cost Involved

The fixed cost of building a large and complex engagement platform stacks up with the size of the development team. While buying an existing solution, you need only to consider license fees which vary based on active user count, segmentation, automation, analytics, partner ecosystem, security, and support. Though there are no license fees involved in building, you will need to account for the infrastructure, maintenance costs, and man-hours, all of which are extremely challenging to estimate explicitly.

If you choose to build an in-house solution from scratch, you need to be aware of the hidden costs. Outlined below are some of the important ones:

Time to value

The waiting period between the start of development and the finish of a product has a cost attached to it. Time to value (TTV) is the time it takes a customer to realize the value they were expecting from your product. The shorter the time frame is to reach value, the more likely you are to retain a user and avoid customer churn. With an in-house development option, it's going to be a time-consuming matter. And as a result, the cost of waiting till the platform is ready only grows with the complexity and functionality required.

Highlighted below are a few more Here are a few of the most important ones:

  • Technical debt: This is the assumed cost that would go into additional development work to fix (bug) issues that may occur in the long run. You will eventually take on a significant amount of technical debt — code or design debt, not only in terms of code changes but also in storage and infrastructure.
  • Maintenance cost: Before launching, you can only do so much to ensure the solution built in-house is operating perfectly. However, even after finding and squashing bugs, with evolving technology, there might be new fixes along the way. To prevent your product from backsliding, you need to invest in regular maintenance. And with new compliance and regulations popping up amid growing privacy and security concerns, your product will need to constantly evolve to cater to these changes.
  • Strategic costs: If you want a competitive advantage, you’ll need to account for strategic costs — the costs incurred when your business wants to seize and address a new opportunity, coupled with your existing maintenance costs.

The problem being solved

You need to answer if the specific problem you are trying to solve is in any way related to your core customer value proposition. Ask yourself if building a specialized customer engagement solution from scratch adds directly to your bottom line. Will solving the problem yield any competitive advantage? If the answer to these questions is no, then the buy option is the best route.

It is advised to buy stuff every company needs and build what differentiates you. Take as an example, an online marketplace company needs to resolve two problems — one being SMS functionality to communicate with users and the other is building a seamless add-to-cart experience. While the latter directly lends to providing a great customer experience, the former does not contribute to the core business objective. As such, it is recommended the company choose a reliable SMS delivery partner and focus on improving the UX. This same reasoning applies to a good communications platform — the hyper-connected, multi-device world requires brands to engage users across multiple channels — SMS, emails, voice, WhatsApp. This is where an intelligent platform with years of innovative cutting edge technology built-in comes in handy.

Resources available at your disposal

Budget is another big deciding factor when it comes to the build vs buy debate.

If you decide to ‘buy’, there is enough opportunity to realize the competitive advantage of that solution, and the development team likely has a proven track record of delivering user-friendly, custom solutions on time.

Track record of the development team

For customer-centric brands, a customer engagement platform is the focal point of your entire business growth. As such the solution not only needs to be functionally extensive but also very user-friendly. Building such a platform would require a dedicated team of expert developers with a significant amount of time. Before you choose to build or buy, measure your development team’s skills. Check for technical skills, competence, and the ability to deliver concerning deadlines.

Associated risks

While building, the risk involved is mostly the proficiency to deliver. The development team’s unawareness of the domain can often result in increased expense, among other issues. The foremost risks involved with integrating a third-party platform are limited access and control over the software. Ensure that these issues are well communicated while buying the solution.

The Competitive advantage your brand seeks

Consider these questions before deciding to buy or to build:

Can the third-party platform resolve more than 80% of your customer engagement needs? Will the solution be able to keep up with your pace of innovation?

It is very crucial to assess the competitive advantage your brand is seeking from a third-party customer engagement platform before deciding to buy or build.

Finally, we recommend that before choosing either solution, deliberate with your team, and tick off the afore-mentioned checkpoints meticulously. Most importantly, the success of the effort you put into your customer engagement depends on how you implement it, it doesn’t exactly matter if you choose to buy a third-party solution or build one from scratch.

We hope that Now, that you have gone through the pros and cons of build vs buy, we hope it will make the decision easier.

At Termii, we are dedicated to helping you provide the best possible experience to your customers. If you’re struggling to choose between build vs buy, or to fully understand the differences and benefits of a good engagement platform, get in touch with us today! And feel the difference with the platform that has helped uLesson, Piggyvest, Helium Health, Credpal, Yassir, Omnibiz, and other global brands seamlessly engage and verify their customers across SMS, emails, voice, & instant messaging channels.

Sources: henricodolfing, uptech, trychameleon

Cecilia Abegunde



Termii Inc.

Termii helps businesses verify their customers across SMS, voice, and instant messaging channels.