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Build vs Buy: What’s the Right Choice for an Enterprise SaaS Management Tool?

build vs buy

So, you’ve had enough and decided to take a stand against your ever-growing SaaS library. Maybe you experienced an “oh shit” moment or reached some other tipping point. Typically, companies invest in a SaaS Management platform due to a combination of:

  • Seeing SaaS costs increase in budgets
  • Employees expensing SaaS (Shadow IT)
  • Inefficiencies due to redundant and duplicate applications
  • Worrying about compliance and security issues
  • Missing automatic renewals
  • Underutilizing software

Bottom line: You’re ready to swap manual spreadsheets and on-prem software for a cloud-based SaaS Management tool. But should you invest in a turnkey solution or build from the ground up? Both options offer pros and cons, so read on to help you determine whether to build vs. buy. 

Build vs. Buy: Top Considerations for SaaS Management

You should consider several factors when weighing the decision of build vs. buy for a SaaS Management tool. To begin, ask yourself the following questions.

What’s the purpose of my organization?

Consider your organization’s mission and how technology plays a role. Do you handle sensitive or confidential information? Do you rely on software, especially SaaS, to power the organization? How will a SaaS Management platform move the business forward?

Who needs to be involved in the decision? 

Determine the key stakeholders who need to be involved in the decision-making. It often depends on the size of your company, but typically includes IT, procurement, finance, and in some instances, senior executives.

What capabilities do we need? 

Think about the reasons you’re investing in SaaS Management tools in the first place. Do you lack visibility into employee-led purchases? Do you pay for redundant tools? Are you spending too much on SaaS? Knowing the answers will help narrow your focus and pinpoint the unique features to look for.

What data sources do we have?

Data proves key to effective SaaS governance. SaaS Management platforms use multiple software integrations to continuously pull in and scrape data. If you build vs buy, you’ll need to know what data to look for and figure out how to connect it to your system. Is it an API? Will you manually upload data sets?

How much will it cost? 

If building from scratch, you’ll need to hire at least one employee (likely more) or reallocate existing employees to build your system. Then, you’ll need to pay for the architecture, as well as the build-out and ongoing maintenance of the SaaS Management system.

If you purchase a SaaS Management solution, you gain immediate access to existing architecture, and typically have the option to purchase different levels of service or feature add-ons based on your organization’s size and needs. 

How much time will it take?

If you buy a SaaS Management tool, you gain instant access to the platform and typically complete implementation in a month or less. If you decide to build, it could take over a year to build, test, and go live with your tool. 

If we build, what kind of resources do we need?

Similar to the pricing question, you’ll need to hire a person or team to build the tool, and also cover any equipment or needed hardware. You also need to consider factors like user experience, integrations with other tools, and security.

What options currently exist on the market?

Numerous solutions exist, from enterprise-ready platforms to bare-bones tools. We suggest checking software review sites that evaluate SaaS Management platforms, such as G2 and Capterra

Build vs Buy: Pros and Cons

Pros of Building a SaaS Management Platform

The primary benefit of building a SaaS tool from the ground up is you retain full control over the functionality, UX, and coding. You can design the software to work precisely how you need it to, especially if you work in a highly niche field, or handle sensitive information or intellectual property. Plus, if you already use in-house tools, you can build the software to integrate with existing systems.

Cons of Building a SaaS Management Platform

Building a SaaS Management platform from scratch is highly resource-intensive. It requires considerable time, money, and personnel, and takes employees away from fulfilling key business objectives. You also must support ongoing maintenance and administration.

When you build from scratch, you lack access to industry and benchmarking data that typically comes with a comprehensive SaaS Management platform. Without these insights, it’s impossible to benchmark pricing and identify popular applications in your industry, not to mention you’ll be less informed when it comes time to negotiate renewal terms. 

And without active SaaS discovery — a key component of SaaS Management platforms like Zylo — it’s just a reporting tool or glorified spreadsheet showing a snapshot in time. Effective SaaS Management requires real-time discovery to uncover all of the blindspots. 

Pros of Buying a SaaS Management Platform

The dynamic nature of SaaS means applications frequently enter and leave your organization, sometimes on a daily basis. A comprehensive SaaS Management platform provides ongoing discovery so you always have access to up-to-date information. It allows for proactive management (not reactive) because you can confidently see all applications in your portfolio.

SaaS Management platforms also provide actionable insights and benchmarking data to inform renewals and leverage better terms. You can see the most popular applications in your industry and create an app catalog for employees to curate their preferred toolsets. 

Finally, when you buy a SaaS Management platform, all maintenance falls on the vendor. They’re experts in SaaS Management with the resources to continuously innovate and improve the platform as the market evolves.

Cons of Buying a SaaS Management Platform

The main con to buying a SaaS Management platform is it may not fit all of your specifications. SaaS tools are meant to serve a wide range of industries. If you work in a niche industry, there’s a possibility a comprehensive platform lacks the right features to meet your requirements.

Why Zylo Provides a Superior Alternative to Building

Sure, you can technically cobble systems together to centralize contracts and maybe even scrape renewal data. It may keep the lights on, but it’s not sustainable long-term and prone to human error. Most importantly, you lack access to real-time data.

Zylo’s key differentiator is our AI and machine learning-powered Discovery Engine. It enables you to see 100% of your applications, and provides transparency and insights into SaaS application, inventory, usage, and spending across your organization. We’ve processed nearly $25 billion in SaaS spend and analyzed thousands of applications to deliver actionable data and analysis. 

With a continuously updated system of record, you can begin to:

  • Optimize licenses to reduce costs
  • Rationalize your portfolio to eliminate applications with overlapping function 
  • Stay ahead of renewals and use benchmarking data to drive better contracts
  • Equip employees with best-in-class tools
  • Ensure compliance and mitigate risk

Have you contemplated the build vs. buy conversation? Instead of starting from scratch, choose an enterprise-ready SaaS Management tool that scales with your business and allows you to manage your SaaS your way. Reach out today to schedule a Zylo demo.