Buy vs. Build vs. Something Else? Which HR Software Is Right for Your Organization?

Shivasankari Bhuvaneswaran

December 3rd, 2018 HR Process  

HR Software

When choosing an HR Software, organizations face a dilemma: to invest in a packaged HR Solution, or to build an in-house product. Now that legacy software has quit the race, the competition between cloud-based HR solutions and custom HR software is fiercer than ever before. However, both options have their fair share of challenges.

If you choose to buy, you are usually limited by what your software provider offers, in terms of improvements and upgrades. If you choose to build on your own, you might end up with a homemade hastily-taped-together version, or something you spend a lot of money on, that also costs you an arm and a leg to make minor fixes to.

Which one is the best choice for you? It depends on a lot of things. Or maybe there is a better third option out there.

Let’s take a deeper look at each option before you make a critical project decision.

Option 1: Buying an Off-the-Shelf HR Software

Packaged HR tools are reshaping the future of HR.  According to Sierra-Cedar’s HR systems survey, nearly 40% of organizations plan to move from manual process to cloud environments in 2018. So, if you’re pondering over the idea of investing in an off-the-shelf HRMS Software, you’re not alone.

At times, picking a readily available SaaS HR software seems like the most sensible option. SMBs in particular stand to gain a lot from taking this path. Packaged HR are inexpensive, ready-to-use, user-friendly, time-saving, and flexible.

Although choosing a bundled HR tool and rolling it out immediately sounds so simple, there are a lot of hurdles to overcome.

  • Packaged HR products are built for someone else.

    Though SaaS Human Resource Management System solutions claim to be one-size-fits-all, their generic nature rarely meets the unique business requirements of every organization. As anything off the shelf is subject to limitations, you’re forced to make compromises and find workarounds.

  • You’re left at the mercy of product roadmaps.

    Off-the-shelf solutions don’t allow users behind the scene to build what they need. The inability to control or customize the product is a major shortcoming.  When it comes to cloud-based offerings, organizations have little or no control over product enhancements and updates, since vendors handle this.

  • They have more pointless features than a top-end SUV. Canned HR solutions are often marketed as feature-rich modules that cover every HR administrative issue under the sun. However, the feature intensiveness of these products just complicates HR processes further. Often, these features turn out to be either generic or pointless, or both.

Organizations are often coerced into revising their processes to fit an off-the-shelf HR tool’s limited functionality rather than having the software work around their HR Processes.

Option 2: Building an In-House HR Software

Building an HR solution in-house (or hiring someone to build one) used to be the traditional approach to software development. Although building a custom HR software from scratch is quite expensive, the return on investment is usually worth the effort.

To develop a custom HR software, organizations may have to devote a significant amount of energy, time, and money. Sometimes these tasks might seem daunting and make packaged solutions a better alternative. Building a custom software will:

  • Help you meet unique business needs
  • Offer you more control over development
  • Reduce the upfront investment substantially
  • Give you ownership over the software code

If your competitors don’t have similar hr software, building a customized solution will mean a competitive advantage. However, when a team sets out to develop a custom software, a variety of complications can occur. Teams that are over-optimistic and over-ambitious can end up pushing their developers over their core competencies, making them high risk and low return.

Did You Know?

The most publicized failure in the history of software development belongs to the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation). FBI ditched custom development at the cost of $600 Million after 12 long years.

The UK government scrapped the largest civil IT project in the history, the NHS health care system, after spending nearly  £10 billion. The project was full of delays, technical challenges, ever-changing requirements, and very little value for users.

A report from Standish group shows that the overall success rate of in-house software development was only 16.2%. While 52.7% crossed budget, fell short of the desired features, and were delivered late, the remaining 31.1% were impaired, never delivered, and ultimately cancelled.

The software development industry is littered with a long list of abandoned and unfulfilled projects. Organizations need to consider all these epic failures before venturing out to create a custom HR tool from scratch.  Here are some things that will make you reconsider the decision to build an HR software in-house:

  • It is expensive and subject to budget fluctuations. Several organizations don’t really understand the level of financial commitment needed to develop good software. This will only pop up unpleasant surprises over the development cycle and take budget off-track.
  • It takes forever to build. When your HR team is barely surviving the chaos caused by spreadsheets and paperwork, you won’t have time to create custom software. In such cases, a canned HR system with limited barriers that adapt quickly can reduce the burden on your HR team considerably.
  • You don’t have the technical knowledge to build it on your own. Developing a custom HR software requires coding expertise. If you don’t have an IT team twiddling their thumbs waiting for a massive project to begin, you will have to hire an outside vendor which has its own challenges. Even after implementation, the HR team will have to depend on the IT resources for minor functionality changes.

Option 3: Build on a No-Code Platform

To skip the limitations of buy and build options, businesses need to move towards an advanced alternative: building exactly what you need on a platform that makes it possible. HR workflow automation platforms offer organizations that sweet spot between purchasing a canned HR software and developing custom software.

A user-friendly HR automation tool will reduce data silos, improve efficiency, increase collaboration, and bridge process gaps. The major advantages of using an HR automation platform are:

  1. There’s absolutely no code involved. HR automation platforms allow business users to create an HR app, customize functionalities, and deploy them without any coding. Users can create a fully functional app with ‘drag-and-drop’ tools and visual form-building wizards.
  2. You can build an unlimited number of apps. While packaged solutions put a cap on the maximum number of apps per subscription, HR automation tools give users free rein to experiment.
  3. They don’t suffer from feature overload. Most off-the-shelf solutions are built with enterprises in mind, so despite the long list of features, you might need spreadsheets and other workarounds to manage all your unique HR processes.
  4. They let you control the design and end product. Any feature request in an off-the-shelf product might make organizations wait for a long period before it is finally rolled out. Custom software will demand a lot more resources to get this done. Platforms, on the other hand, offer you the power to change or customize any feature instantly.
  5. Your whole organization can use it.

    Off-the-shelf software and custom HR solutions handle only HR processes. However, platforms don’t limit users to HR processes alone. They support cross-departmental processes/workflows and allow users can create tools that can be used by the entire organization.

  6. You can view all your data in a single interface. Unlike the other two options, an HR automation platform offers you an all-in-one interface to support all your critical business needs. You can bid goodbye to data silos and integration nightmares!

Make the Right Choice: Build on KiSSFLOW

Several organizations already depend on a cloud-based, off-the-shelf HR Software. While it seemed like the perfect all-in-one solution, these ready-made platforms demand too many ‘workarounds’ to keep things running. As a result, everything from agility, visibility, and overall efficiency goes out the window.

Investing in a custom HR Software is not just risky but also expensive and time-consuming.  When you neither have the time nor the resources to hand-code every bit of functionality, but have unique requirements, it is better to build your own HR management software on a customizable platform like KiSSFLOW.

Creating custom software using KiSSFLOW allows organizations the flexibility to tailor apps specifically for unique business needs, and to improve operational efficiency. Automating HR workflows using KiSSFLOW will eliminate redundancies, improve efficiency, increase coordination, reduce the turnaround time, and enhance visibility. KiSSFLOW is the hr software solution for your small business.

Don’t settle for anything that doesn’t give you extensive functionality and great control at an affordable price. Try KiSSFLOW for free for 14-day – automate a few HR processes and how easy it is to develop an app!