Should You Buy or Build Your Own SaaS Solution?

You have probably been at this crossroads “Should I Buy or Should I Do It Myself”( I find myself in this situation every day when it comes to food).

I am sure that as a SaaS company, you have been in the place where you had to decide whether to build a tool yourself or buy it from a third-party.

“Why should I buy from Userguiding?” is the prevalent question we get from you, dear prospective customers. In this article, I will try to enlighten you on the pros and cons and costs of building an onboarding tool by yourself vs. buying from our competitors or us.

Why Do Companies Choose Custom Development?

There are certain times when it is more feasible to build the tool you want instead of buying one. This is not valid just for user onboarding tools. The same rule applies to all other software.

From my perspective, it makes more sense to build your tool if:

  • You are tight on cash and time is not an issue for you so that you can allocate countless hours to develop your bespoken tool
  • Your tech stack is not compatible with the external providers
  • Your team is full of super talented engineers and UX designers and abundance of time
  • Your company is inundated with cash, and you want to build something that you think that can give you an edge over your competitors

All of the reasons above are logical to pursue building your tool. But there are some hurdles usually not taken into account before starting to build your tool.

Let me put a light on those undercover misconceptions:

Custom Development is More Affordable

There is a common belief that when you build something yourself, it is going to be cheaper than buying from somewhere else. However, this is true in most cases, like if you make your sandwich instead of buying it, it will be cheaper. But when it comes to SaaS, it is a different story. People assume that having a team at hand means that they can develop an onboarding tool themselves and get it done for a cheaper prince instead of buying a SaaS solution.

Only One Onboarding Flow Will be Enough

When people are considering buying vs. building onboarding tool, they usually think that once they build one onboarding experience, they can follow the set-it and forget-it approach. This approach seems fine, but what happens when you want to make alterations on your onboarding experience? Let me tell you what happens. Iterations become such a hustle for your team, and as a result of this, user onboarding is usually dropped because of the added complexity.

What Happens If I Do Not Want to Iterate?

You could just say that I do not need to iterate on my user onboarding experience; therefore, set-it and forget-it is my way to go. I will be honest to you, dear reader, you will need to make alterations in your onboarding experience, so not doing any iterations is out of the options.

Buy vs. Build Decision Is Solely Based on Financial Decision

It is imperative to note that even the easiest user prompt when built in-house can take a couple of weeks to go live in your product. During this time gap, you could have a myriad of users sign up to your platform, and if they don’t see any value, then churn is imminent.

Great folks at Mixpanel did an excellent study on user behavior. According to their research; In a sample group of 572 products and 1.3 billion unique users, roughly %60 of the users churn one week after their initial experience. So if you fail to onboard users because of development time, that’s a lot of loss for your bottom line.

Having a dedicated engineering team is not the biggest cost of building your onboarding experience in-house, the time it takes for your product people to decide and implement on a strategy is a big cost that you should consider as well. Whether you are a cash-rich multinational corporation or a bootstrapped startup, the time is your most valuable asset.

Everybody in Your Team is Super Hyped About Contributing on Building In-house Onboarding Experience

It is possible that your engineers will be delighted to work on your onboarding experience. Still, chances are low because your engineers will be pretty occupied with developing your core product already. If your engineers are aware that such onboarding experiences can be created easily without coding with third-party tools, they will be less inclined to contribute to your project.

Custom development means that every time you make a change to your User Interface, your onboarding process should be modified as well, and this custom onboarding flow should be maintained, and all of this will be a burden on your engineering team.

Build vs Buy Comparison

When you build:

  • You end up having exactly what you want
  • You save money in the long-term
  • You’ll have increased security
  • It’ll cost a lot upfront
  • It’ll require a lot of precious developer time
  • It’ll be months until you have at least an MVP

When you buy:

  • Your onboarding will be up in days
  • No need for a developer at any stage
  • You start with as low as 99$ a month
  • It’ll be much easier to maintain
  • It usually comes with various features
  • Security liability depending on the product
  • You’ll pay forever
  • It has limited customization

Why Buying is a Viable Option too

I could be a little bit biased about the buy vs build your own onboarding tool discussion.

After all, I work for the SaaS startup that sells user onboarding tool. But I work with engineers, designers, and product managers all the time and I know how much effort goes into creating user onboarding flows and maintaining them.

If this was such an easy task we would not start UserGuiding. We try to save you from the hassle of creating engaging experiences that your users would love by allowing you to create user onboarding flows without needing to code.

Summary

I tried to give you a small insight on several misconceptions about building your own tool, the decision is yours to make, you can use us our one of our competitors or build your own tool. In any case, we will keep trying to educate you on creating the best onboarding experience for your customers.

build vs buy software

Can Ozuysal

John is the Growth Manager of UserGuiding, a code-free product walkthrough software that 2000+ teams trust in their user onboarding.

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