by Ed Boclair
A few months back, the spring on my garage door broke. My wife told me that I had the skills to repair the garage door and she said, “Wouldn’t it be a nice weekend project?” As I sized up the situation and repair job, I could envision the weekend ahead of me: reviewing repair websites, making multiple trips to the hardware store, calling in favors from friends…essentially spending the entire weekend tackling the project. I knew that a professional could easily finish the repair in two hours tops, so I “explained” to my wife that while I could do the job, I really shouldn’t do it. I felt a better use of my time would be cheering my twins on at their cross country meet and going out for celebratory burgers afterwards. Plus, my work at home doesn’t come with a warranty.
The build vs. buy decision that many companies face when considering a transportation management system (TMS) can fall into the same vein as my garage door repair decision: Yes, you can build your own TMS, but should you? I hear it said often: “We have a home-grown TMS solution already” or “We’re looking at buying, but we may build or rebuild our own instead.” Cost, time to benefit, technology, complexity, requirements for your industry, and the ability to differentiate your business are key considerations for any company making the TMS build vs. buy decision.
It’s also imperative that you look beyond the traditional discussion points when evaluating build vs. buy. For example, it is now six months after your “build” system has been moved to production. Except for a few help desk calls, things are going smoothly. You’ve managed to master the hardware, middleware, enterprise integration, security, and even nailed the functionality, when the CEO announces the new facility in China. The fun and excitement really starts when everyone realizes the local carrier integration requirements are entirely different from any other carrier you’ve worked with…and the TMS reports and user interface have to be available in Mandarin within the next two weeks! Acquisitions, divestitures, and the search for continuous process improvement mandate the need for adaptable solutions that companies can deploy quickly and support globally.
Here are a few questions that you need to ask when discussing build vs. buy decisions:
When I tell the story about my garage door repair, I typically don’t discuss the cost or time saved. I talk about the joy of cheering for my twin boys and kicking back at our favorite burger place discussing their hopes and aspirations. I’m not saying that you don’t have the talent or expertise to build — just ask the tough question: should you build?
Edward A. Boclair is President of Precision Software, a division of QAD Inc. Boclair is responsible for global operations, including sales, marketing, research and development, and services. Boclair has a Masters of Business Administration from Texas Christian University plus a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and a BBA in Management from Mississippi State University.