Very often I have meetings and discussions with customers who have developed their own flavour of CX software and ask if and why should they change to a vendor’s standard solution. Depending on the size of the company, I see a trend with moving to standardized software rather than keeping the customized developments. Developing a home-grown application has the initial and great advantage of starting with few targeted capabilities that are critical and specific to the company; also, it bears a smaller commercial footprint, and last but not least the ability to add features as the business users ask, step by step and independently from any product market trend.
So my answer to those customer is: it depends. What is as good as a tailored suit today, may not fit tomorrow.
What happens when the company evolves and increases in complexity, typically leads to many issues with the home-grown application:
- Maintenance: as the application was originally based on functionality requests coming from the internal users, at some point of the complexity curve it may become very difficult to keep up with the pace of the new requests, so when the deployment cycle has just finished for one set of features, the developers’ team is already late for the new batch.
- Features: when the new application has a very basic set of capabilities, it’s kind of difficult to realize what would be needed and what can be achieved outside the narrow targeted scope, which makes it difficult to plan upgrades and developments.
- Timing: in order to reach 100% of feature availability, this could really take months of development, moving the return of investment to a wider time-frame.
- Trust in the software algorithm: if the developed solution at some point starts to seem weak, this risks mining the entire project and any future evolution: better having less safe features than risk the users trust.
- Scalability and performance: tools that were originally intended for a specific number of users sometimes cannot simply scale or provide adequate performances when running on larger users groups.
So there is, in my experience, a sweet spot when a customer is tired of maintaining the home-grown solution and eager for more standardized products, but at the same time with a fully expert team of developers who can really use the new solution at 100%. Swapping to a vendor’s solution at the right time will have the effect of letting the internal team specialize on customizations and small developments, while focusing on the company’s core business. Precious and high skilled resources can then be used to focus on new ways of using the technology, rather than spend lot of time with Q&A and application maintenance.