Reasons why you should avoid building your own analytics platform
The Allure of Building Your Own
We encounter this scenario all the time. An organisation recognises they need an analytics platform. They perhaps already have an internal ‘business intelligence’ specialist, or even a team of them, that can be allocated to build a bespoke system that perfectly matches their needs. From what we have seen, this typically ends in some level of disappointment.
Build vs Buy
Let’s talk about and break down both the perceived benefits of building your own platform, and then the advantages of subscribing to a platform similar to Flomatika
The Case For Building Your Own
Many organisations have a belief that the metrics and analytics they require are unique to just them. Perhaps they want them calculated in a very specific way, or want them presented in a very specific way. Therefore the only way to meet this requirement is to build it in-house. It is curious to see such a common pattern of organisations believing the way they measure the team's delivery performance is unique. Ultimately, the core calculations are the same (lead time, throughput, flow efficiency etc), with just the variations around how you categorise the work (custom fields, labels, tags etc).
Unfortunately, you see it everywhere, many organisations invest millions in bespoke systems that actually aren’t too dissimilar to other organisations. CRMs and ERPs are classic examples. Luckily the industry is moving towards commoditised systems. These days you don’t need to build your own data centres, or payment gateways. You subscribe to a service. Why invest in hiring and retaining experts that aren’t part of your core business? Not to mention the costs of running and maintaining these bespoke systems.
Take Advantage of in-house ‘BI’ Specialists
You might already have a specialist or team of them in place to address such needs. These specialists tend to be a bit of a hot commodity. Everyone is fighting for their time.
Building it yourself is actually not that easy even with BI specialists. As you’ll also be needing Domain Experts. Someone that can direct your BI Specialists on what to build, how it’s calculated, and define the business rules for the various edge cases. You might have Agile Coaches who can play the domain expert role, but they themselves are also a hot commodity, where there just aren't enough of them to go around and support all the teams. So for both your Domain Experts and BI Specialists, if they say yes to work on this bespoke platform, it means they are saying no to something else.
There is also a time delay factor. The time it takes to build is the cost of delay in gaining the benefits of such a platform. However long it takes to build is also the time that your key experts and specialists are tied up, saying no to other demands from across the organisation.
Once it’s built, there are also associated costs to running and maintaining your own platform. There are costs to running and maintaining the infrastructure, which are often left out in the business case. You might have to hire and retain a team to continue to enhance and maintain the platform. If it’s not a dedicated team, then it’s a shared team who will have competing demands placed on them. Any requests to update your bespoke system will go into their queue to compete with other demands, and it typically takes longer than desired for a change to make it to production. Relying on experts/specialists also means they are a single point of failure. If they go on leave, you'll have to wait for them to come back before any changes can be made. Even worse, if they ever leave the organisation, much of the knowledge leaves with them.
The Case for Buying
So what are the other benefits of purchasing an already established analytics platform as a service?
Focus on your core business
For these services, the domain IS their core business. They will continue to develop and grow their expertise in that area. They will always look to evolve their platform to ensure they maintain their own competitive advantage and be a leader in their domain. In turn, this means you’ll have access to their expertise and a continuously growing platform.
It’s significantly cheaper to subscribe to a service than to build your own. You avoid the cost of building a team (hiring and retaining), or using an existing team (meaning they need to say no to other areas of the business). You avoid the costs for running and maintaining the infrastructure (such as uptime and licences).
Remove the Cost of Delay
How long do you think it’ll take to build your own platform? Every day spent designing, building, testing, enhancing the platform is a day without the benefits that such a platform brings. If you can access it now, you start gaining the benefits immediately.
You’ll also be accessing a platform that has had several years of sophistication already built in. They have encountered and solved problems you probably haven’t encountered yet. You’ll be saving yourself a lot of pain, as those problems have already been solved by someone else.
Remove the Dependencies on Specialists
Be able to configure and self-manage the platform yourselves, so you’re not reliant on a specialist or team of specialists, competing with the other demands they receive. As your teams evolve the way they work, you can maintain your own configuration accordingly.
Democratise the Data and Insights
The platform you build will likely be a basic version (at least initially). It’ll have simple numbers and charts, but require someone with experience to read and understand. A platform like Flomatika looks to democratise access to the data and share the insights. The platform will give you indicators on which metrics you should be concerned with and need to take action on. It’ll provide you with systemic issues impacting your teams, that you can do something about right now.
Instead of working in isolation within your own organisation, you’ll also have access to experts and to a community with a shared vision. A community that is in constant discussion on how they can push this segment further, and continue to evolve.
Buy, don’t build
In summary, there are a lot of benefits to not building your own analytics platform:
- Focus on your core business
- Free up your ‘BI’ specialists
- Cheaper than building your own (lower cost of ownership)
- Remove the cost of delay by accessing the platform now
- Access to a sophisticated platform without the teething and quality issues accessing
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