Buy or Build: Making the Right Choice for SaaS Finance Tools

Nilotpal Chanda
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Discover whether it's better to buy or build SaaS tools. Explore the costs of ownership and benefits of off-the-shelf solutions. Also, learn how purchasing a finance SaaS tool can streamline processes.
February 15, 2023

Imagine you were taking a 500-mile journey. How would you rather travel - a hunk of metal with four wheels put together or a comfortable off-the-shelf convertible?

That is how you should be thinking about your digital capabilities. The business world is constantly changing and adapting, and staying ahead of the curve can feel like trying to keep up with a high-speed race car.

In this blog, I will be tackling the age-old question of SaaS tools: Buy or Build? Just like deciding between buying a convertible car or building one from scratch, this question has been perplexing businesses for years.

On one hand, you have the option to buy pre-made SaaS tools from established companies, like buying a brand-new convertible car off the dealership lot. On the other hand, you have the option to build your own SaaS tool from scratch, like building a custom convertible car.

At first glance, building your own SaaS tool might seem like a good idea - with its promise of hyper-customizations and total control over the development process. But it's important to consider the many benefits of buying off-the-shelf tools: faster turnarounds, great product support, and operational flexibility.

A cost-benefit analysis, with a keen eye on the organization's transformation agenda, is a great starting point to make the most informed and successful solution for your business here.

Just like with a convertible car, the decision to buy or make SaaS tools depends on your business needs, budget, and resources. This blog guides you make an informed decision and choose the best option for your business. So sit back, relax, and let's dive into the world of SaaS tools and figure out whether you should buy or make.

Costs of ownership of an in-house developed tool

Building a financial software solution from scratch requires a significant investment in terms of time, resources, and money with a low success rate. It can be expensive - with all phases of the product development lifecycle requiring distinct skills and expertise. All stages of tool development are dependent on people - and that can make or break your digital transformation dreams.

Below is a high-level view of the range of costs for a typical in-house tool development project. As people cost is a function of time, the longer the development will be, the higher the cost of SaaS development.

Other key cost drivers that impact the costs of the in-house development costs include product complexity, platform integrations, team composition, and location. Also, it is important to bear in mind similar costs would be incurred during each update or upgrade to your tool.

On average, companies spend more than 85% of their budgets on just one area - Hiring the right skills. This people-dependent approach has one serious cost that does not show up in books - the cost of delays due to attrition.

Why CFOs prefer off-the-shelf tools?

Buying a pre-built finance SaaS solution can be less expensive and offer very quick turnarounds, as the software is already developed and ready to use. Some of the benefits of buying a solution include:

- Battle-tested and industry best practices: When you buy a finance tool, you have access to a team of experts who have already spent countless hours researching, developing, and refining the product. This means that you can rest assured that the tool you're using is up-to-date, efficient, and reliable. On the other hand, if you build your own finance tool, you'll need to find and hire your own team of experts to develop it, which can be a time-consuming and expensive process.

- Fast time to deploy: Building a finance tool from scratch can take several months, if not years, to complete. During this time, your business will be at a disadvantage, as you won't have access to the features and benefits that a finance tool provides. When you buy a finance tool, however, you can start using it right away, freeing up valuable time for your business to focus on other important tasks.

- Regular updates and maintenance: With a finance tool that you’ve built yourself, it’s up to you to keep it up-to-date and bug-free. This can be a significant undertaking, especially as financial regulations and technologies change. When you buy a finance tool, however, these updates are included as part of your subscription, meaning that you can always be confident that you’re using the most current version of the product.

- Growth without the hassle: As your business grows, so too will your finance needs. With a finance tool that you’ve built in-house, you’ll need to invest in additional resources to keep up with demand. When you buy a finance tool, however, the vendor will handle all of the scalability issues.

- Plug and integrate with other tools: Off-the-shelf finance tools are generally designed to integrate with other systems, such as ERP software, visualization tools etc. This makes it easy to transfer data between systems, streamlining processes and reducing the risk of errors. When you build your own finance tool, however, you’ll need to handle all of these integrations yourself, which can be time-consuming and complicated.

Going beyond just short to medium-term financial benefits, a buy strategy can open up a trove of other benefits as well, including,

- Buying a tool rather than developing it means - resources and subject matter experts are free from development projects. This time can be leveraged for value-adding activities and stronger business partner.

- A cross-platform tool that is fast and reliable improves the productivity of finance operations multifold.

- A quick implementation timeline in the case of bought tools helps organizations to use the saved time for organizational readiness, including change management and training.


In conclusion, buying a finance SaaS tool provides numerous benefits for businesses of all sizes. From saving time and resources to accessing the latest technology and expertise, purchasing a finance tool offers a more efficient, effective and cost-effective solution compared to building one in-house.

In comparison, building a finance tool in-house can be time-consuming, complex, and costly, requiring significant investment in software development, testing and maintenance. Additionally, businesses may struggle to keep up with the latest advancements in technology and may not have the necessary expertise to develop a finance tool that meets their needs.

Overall, buying a finance SaaS tool provides the best solution for businesses that want to streamline their financial processes, improve accuracy and drive growth. With its numerous benefits and lower costs, it is a smart and strategic investment that businesses should consider.