Buying an existing software tool versus building something custom is a common dilemma our clients face.
And many times the answer to this question lies somewhere between the two. We have been evaluating project management solutions for about a month, setting up free trials (and in some cases paid accounts) and running them through a small set of criteria to see if they meet our requirements.
All of these project management tools offer affordable monthly hosted solutions, but not one of them meets our requirements exactly. So we face the question; do we build something from the ground up that will work for us, or do we compromise some of our requirements and go with the off-the-shelf product at a lower price point? In an ideal world, with unlimited time and money, we would build ourselves a custom solution, but reality is cruel.
Instead the best solution is a hybrid. We will settle on a product that comes closest to our requirements and provides a robust application programming interface (API). The API will allow us to access the project data, and then customize it to close the gap.
The same scenario is true for 95% of our clients seeking a content managed solution for their website. In a B2B marketing and lead generation website, requirements will most often dictate a custom design, SEO optimization, forms, landing pages, news and event functionality. But every implementation is unique and there is no CMS that gets them 100% of the way there. However, there is also no need to build something from the ground-up, duplicating functionality that is already available.
Most often we work with an open source solution, such as MURA, which provides an enterprise level CMS framework. Open source means we can access the source code and build custom features, or draw upon the community of developers to plug-in products that meet our needs. This gives us the best of both worlds; a strong product that allows for customization, so that we can build solutions based on specific client requirements.