Should Companies Build Their Own Dashboard Solutions?

Dashboard software has gone from a “nice to have” to a “must have” in a company’s technology stack. Although less likely these days, some companies still face the question of whether to buy a third party application or build their own software applications, including dashboard applications to visualize their information, key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics. A few of the key questions that need answers when considering developing internally are:

1. Do we have the time, resources and skills to do this?
2. If we don’t have the skills, how much training will it take or will we have to hire?
3. How long will it take us to develop, test and roll out? What will the cost be?
4. What development tools will we need and how much will they cost?
5. Will the resulting product be at par with current third party applications that are already available?
6. How will we manage on-going upgrades, support, etc.?

Today, most companies follow the adage of “focus on what you do best and outsource the rest”. The fact is that there is a lot more to the cost of software applications than the purchase price. The total cost of software is the resources it will take to develop, test, deploy and maintain the solution, as well as the opportunity cost of not doing other things with your resources. Another major consideration is user adoption and value generated from the application. If people don’t use the product or they derive little value, the effort and cost was for naught.

In most cases it really makes more sense to purchase a best-of-breed dashboard application than to re-create the wheel. As a company, you can take advantage of the expertise of an outside vendor to help you leverage your information assets and focus your internal IT resources on other core projects. This will lead to more value from the application, a lower total cost of ownership and deployment, and accelerated time to value.

Dave Ferguson, iDashboards

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