It’s an age-old question for organizations seeking software solutions to their operational challenges: Should we build custom-coded software or buy an off-the-shelf product? Often times, it’s a question that is justified but in the case of online Dock Scheduling, the “online”requirement changes the game.
The vast majority of this system’s users will be outside your organization and its firewall. This means harder-to-define requirements, important data-security considerations and considerable costs involved in making a solution that works. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why you should consider buying (or subscribing to) an online dock scheduling service.
Can you really afford it?
Okay, let’s say you’ve chosen to build your own solution. That’s the first step. Now... when exactly will this solution be in place and at what cost for your business? When evaluating the costs and time, take into consideration gathering your requirements, designing the application and its architecture, developing the front-end and back-end, testing the solution, buying the hardware, deploying the application, setting it up and VOILA! Months, maybe even years have gone by and you’re maybe going live with your solution. You’ve spent valuable internal IT resources on a project that could’ve been long deployed. End result: your competitors are way ahead of you and your business is deploying out-of-date software. Remember: you’re developing an application that will (hopefully) have a web front-end so your vendors and carriers can manage their own appointments. It needs to be future-friendly. We all know how quickly web technology evolves and can become outdated in a matter of months.
Another aspect related to cost is the fact that software providers are already offering Dock Scheduling as software-as-a-service (SaaS). This ensures you limit your financial exposure. ‘Pay-as-you-go’ dock scheduling allows you to subscribe to the service and pay only for what you need. No upfront capital expenditure. You’re guaranteed to reap the benefits from day one.
You’re really not THAT unique
Oftentimes, one of the reasons companies look into building their own dock scheduling solution is that they believe this will ensure they hit the mark on 100% of their requirements. Well, I’ve got some bad news for them: it’s not the case!
First off, dock scheduling vendors have been working for years with teams of developers and business specialists in order to address the challenges faced by multitudes of companies. They’ve designed their software to answer the needs of manufacturers, distributors and 3PLs in an ever-growing list of industries... don’t you think you fit somewhere in there and can benefit from that exposure?
Additionally, keep in mind that new requirements and ideas evolve as a product is developed. It just comes with the territory. This means you’ll need to accommodate for them in some way in your software (or you could let the business down and tell them they’ll have to wait for the next version... oh wait, when’s that going to happen with bespoke software?). With an off-the-shelf solution, chances are the software vendor has encountered this requirement with other customers and already has features addressing it in its service.
At some point, you’ll want your solution to interact in some way or another with systems in your enterprise (if not, see my second argument about new requirements...). Are all these systems bespoke pieces of software you’ve developed over the years? If so, maybe building is for you. But for most companies out there, it’s more likely they’ve got ‘off-the-shelf’ products from well-known vendors for several of their larger systems (ERPs, WMS, TMS, YMS, etc). Going with a software vendor that has a proven track record in integrating these systems (or even specific products) can simplify your integration project and ensure you get the most of your brand new dock scheduling system.
In the end, the final decision of building or buying rests on your shoulders. But keep in mind, there are solutions that exist out there that are future-friendly, cost-effective and can meet most if not all your requirements. If you’d like to see just how a robust Dock Scheduling system can help your organization save you money today, please register for an online demonstration of C3 Solutions’ dock scheduling product C3 Reservations.