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Rent or Own? Developing Custom Business Solutions vs. SaaS

When looking for a solution for your business, most organizations immediately turn to SaaS options as their first resort. However, in many cases, developing an in-house customer solution can be a better choice in terms of cost, customization, and user experience. As an example of renting a SaaS option, let’s take a look at the concept of digital business cards.

When looking for a solution for your business, most organizations immediately turn to SaaS options as their first resort. However, in many cases, developing an in-house customer solution can be a better choice in terms of cost, customization, and user experience.


As you look to your next digital venture, should you develop a custom solution or simply leverage one hosted with a SaaS provider?


Of course, both approaches come with their own advantages and disadvantages. Cost, ease of customization, and the overall user experience provide three examples of the criteria worthy of consideration. The complexity of the app also plays a large role in any final decision. 


Let’s analyze both approaches to see what fits best with your organization’s plans for its digital venture. Use this information to gain an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each. In the end, making the right choice becomes easier as a result.

Renting Offers a Quick Fix

When determining whether building a custom digital venture makes more sense than using one from a cloud-based SaaS provider, multiple points need to be considered. Most companies choose a SaaS solution because it is ready to be integrated into their existing stack with minimal cost or development time. 


Software engineering can be a more expensive and time consuming process. This is especially the case if your company boasts no in-house development team. Once the project completes, support and hosting considerations also come to the fore.


As an example of renting a SaaS option, let’s take a look at the concept of digital business cards. The top SaaS companies in the business card space generally provide mobile apps for the iOS and Android platforms. Other features include NFC wireless card transmission, corporate boilerplate templates, simplified card design modifications, and unlimited cards per user. Needless to say, these are all attractive features for companies looking to get their idea to the public as quickly as possible.


Long Term Costs of SaaS Solutions vs Custom Solution

While this rental option seems alluring at first glance, a closer look at the long-term costs reveals a different story. A standard SaaS rental solution for digital business cards typically costs $100 per year for each user. Frankly, it’s an attractive price point for companies with fewer than 50 employees. However, these rental fees quickly grow over time for larger enterprises.


Consider a large company with 8,000 employees. Those organizations are faced with SaaS costs of around $800,000 per year for a simple digital business card application. This math is simple. In 10 years, the business can sink at least $8 million on a cloud-based business card app! At this point, crafting an in-house custom solution sounds worthy of further exploration.


Just compare the two price points. Hosting your own digital business card solution on Azure costs around $250 per month. Over 10 years, this works out to a total cost of around $30,000, which is significantly less expensive than $8 million. 


Obviously, software engineering and other expenses factor into the equation, but those remain a fraction of the costs of the SaaS solution. Ultimately, this is a case where hosting your company’s own solution remains a relatively inexpensive option.

Data Security and Vendor Stability 

Choosing a SaaS option for your next digital venture makes cybersecurity the responsibility of your chosen vendor. So if they suffer a data breach, the records of your clients (or employees) just might end up on the dark web.  Also, they might not inform you about being hacked. Additionally, the vendor’s own staff enjoys access to your data.


Also consider the longevity of your chosen SaaS vendor. Cloud-based services remain a dynamic business sector, ripe with mergers, acquisitions, and company failures. Building and hosting your own solution ensures it won’t suffer from the whims of the marketplace. 

Complete Control of Your Digital Venture

In the example of a digital business card app, most SaaS solutions will have features that your company doesn’t need. Or they will lack features that will make the app more useful to your specific business demands. This is why owning your company’s next digital venture saves you money in the long run. You build only the features and functionality you want, without having to spring for superfluous extras found in a SaaS solution. Integrating with your existing platforms also becomes easier when owning and controlling your own software product.


Finally, complete control over a digital venture lets your company design its UI/UX to your specifications. SaaS solutions typically use templates that greatly limit the app’s look and feel. Any significant customizations become practically impossible. This same rule also applies to simple maintenance.


Before founding 923 Digital, we got our start crafting the popular digital business card platform, Inigo, which ranked in the Top 20 on the App Store and Google Play. Developing and launching Inigo helped us understand every aspect that goes into a digital venture. It also helped us clearly see that for some enterprises, a SaaS solution doesn’t make sense. 


When your company decides to craft its own digital venture, connect with 923 Digital. We boast significant experience designing and building compelling mobile and web applications for our clients.


Tim Ludy
April 29, 2021