To build or to buy SMS Verification — The guide to weighing cost, risk, & other product roadmap decisions

The choice between in-house token development plus deployment and today’s vendor solutions is highly significant.

SMS messaging automation has revolutionized the way businesses communicate with their users. This automation is now intrinsic to solving customers’ problems, selling products, building communities, connecting patients with doctors, giving students the tools they need to learn (E-learning), and a lot more.

When it comes to verifying and authenticating users, developers or product teams know that timely onboarding, i.e verification of users’ identities and transactions make reliable and scalable SMS automation functionality a critical roadmap item. They understand that multiple careful conclusions are integral to a seamless user onboarding, and they’re also aware that the ability to execute those conclusions at the right cost and the right timeline can make or break a product’s success. The first and most important decision in that chain is whether to have an engineering team develop a token OTP verification from scratch or to buy a verification solution.

With user verification becoming a critical feature in products across fields as diverse as financial services, health-tech, customer service, and sales, the decision to build or buy an automatic verification solution will ultimately depend on the organization’s unique requirements and maybe, financial capacities. Listed below are the prominent build vs. buy factors every product team should assess if you aren’t already:

Compare cost — Estimate the Financial Investment to Build or Buy an SMS verification Solution

Building a verification platform no doubt takes time, high-tech knowledge, and resources. The development, security, quality assurance, and testing are long processes requiring a dedicated and highly skilled team that if not well calculated, unplanned expenses that emerge during development in the future can change the initial decision to build. If you do not want to commit the engineering team and IT resources to jumpstart your user onboarding solution, consider tapping into the domain expertise of a third-party partner.

Consider Advanced features — Do you have all the technical knowledge you need to build it?

Technical knowledge is vital when it comes to a build vs. buy analysis. Hosting, backup, security services, etc. Generating and sending secure tokens can get super complicated. Launching your own verification platform requires the right infrastructure, you’ll need to consider whether or not you have all of the right (or sophisticated) technical know-how. You might want to invest in a tried and tested platform from a trusted partner that equally has sophisticated analytics tools to check the status of each user and OTPs sent.

How much time will this take, can you build it to stand the test of time?

Time is very important to startups and this question can often tip buyers over one side of the build vs. buy decision. Building a verification solution requires months of coding while an off-the-shelf solution will have pre-installed configurations for an easy integration process that will excite developers and take only a couple of weeks or even minutes to integrate and implement. At first, it might seem like a small addition to a web application in the building decision, but as time goes on, new requirements will emerge and business conditions will change, leading to more customization.

Unless you want to spend your time monitoring and reinforcing your verification system to keep it from falling apart, look to a partner for an enduring solution built to stand the test of time and technical support in real-time. Be more passionate instead, about getting a product out the door and getting some paying customers!

Reliability & Performance — What will your creation look like once it’s live?

Your customer onboarding and transaction authentication are one of the key drivers of the customer-business relationship — directly affecting your bottom line. High-priority performance features like speed, coverage, and response time require a great deal of testing and optimization, and a clumsy experience can (will) turn users away. Verification infrastructure also needs to be highly available with a near-100% uptime, requiring 24/7 monitoring and a plan to fix any bugs or issues immediately. A clumsy experience will result in loss of revenue, or worse, customer churn. If you do not want to scare customers away, opt for an integrated solution from a trusted platform and increase user retention.

Identify Risks Involved with Building vs. Buying — How will you keep it secure and under control?

Building SMS automation and managing a token system requires constant vigilance, extensive testing, and debugging which strains internal development resources and adds additional costs when something goes wrong. There’s the security of customer data, network downtime, delivery speed, and more to consider to say nothing of responding to threats or other issues in real-time. Critical areas for evaluation include security and compliance, data storage, overall reliability, delivery performance, and scalability. If you don’t have the time or energy to keep watch over your platform day and night, protect your business with an experienced partner.

Make the Final Build vs. Buy Decision — Focus on Relationships and Returns

The decision to build or buy user verification functionality can’t be made lightly. It plays a direct role in your product’s ability to excite users and solve their problems — driving engagement and retention. The decision also has consequential financial implications, with an impact on budgeting and prioritization of engineering resources. It’s a decision that must be made with your organization’s goals, customer base, and unique value proposition in mind. Together with these factors, the analysis above should help to produce an all-inclusive list of pros and cons of building or buying user verification functionality, supporting a carefully informed decision.

Essentially, It comes down to what’s right for your business and your customers in the end. Keep return on investment and client relationships top-of-mind, and you’re sure to make a sound decision

If you and your team are still compiling your evaluation on what solutions exist currently, or the potential advantage (ROI) of integrating your processes, and could use some input from a technical expert in making a decision, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Cecilia Abegunde,

Storytelling Lead Termii Inc.

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