Compliance Software: Five Keys in Buy vs. Build

By Suzanne Matta, Senior Manager

If your firm is evaluating a build vs. buy decision regarding compliance software, you may find yourself facing many of the same decisions that you’d face when deciding on whether or not to buy or build a new home.  Here are five keys things to consider when making that decision.

Don’t underestimate the time and effort required

When building, consider that the tendency is to underestimate the amount of time and effort required.  Often after many months of development and testing, the initial product only satisfies the most rudimentary requirements with necessities such as user interfaces, streamlined workflows and reporting capabilities relegated to a list for future enhancements.  After the initial deployment come bug fixes and ongoing user enhancement requests, which can be costly, resource intensive and possibly derail other planned projects.  In addition, you may find it difficult to keep your most talented engineers interested in ongoing upgrades once the challenge of initial development is complete.  

Plan for a Rock Solid Foundation

Similar to the foundation for a house, the technology platform must be adequate as well, and engineers with the requisite experience on that platform may be hard to find.  You will need to consider how the software will integrate with other systems such as a trading platform, accounting system, and data warehouse or fund administrators. These are all important factors that will have an impact on technical and functional decisions. 

Document Software Requirements and Workflows

Like the architect who designs house plans, you will need someone to document your software requirements and workflows.  You will need business analysts, systems analysts, UI engineers, testing and QA analysts and the tireless support of the end users themselves.

Beware of the Money Pit

If the decision is to buy, bear in mind that no off-the-shelf product will satisfy every need.  It’s important to carefully evaluate the software offering and identify product gaps for potential showstoppers.  More often than not, you will require product enhancements.  Ask specifically how and where your requested enhancements fit into the vendor’s product roadmap and the expected date the enhancements would be delivered. 

If you are told the enhancements will be available in a future version of the product, remember there can be significant delays in between one version and another.  Always ask for a delivery date rather than a version. For larger enhancement requests, you should expect to work closely with the vendor through the analysis and development process.  Ask for regular follow up meetings to track the progress and request demos to ensure the final product meets your expectations.  

Additionally, it may not be possible for the vendor to add larger enhancements to ‘dot’ versions and they may require you to take a major release.  Plan to spend more time and resources upgrading and testing as a result.

Hire the Right Resources

Finally, with either a build or buy decision, like the general contractor who oversees the building of a house, you will need a project manager to accomplish the project objectives and manage costs, timelines and quality.  Consultants can be valuable resources in helping you to scope out your needs and provide expertise to bring you across the finish line as efficiently as possible.  IMP Consulting provides advisory, project management, and compliance services that will help you evaluate which system is right for you. For more information, call (617) 314-7415.