Many of our customers originally came to us with “internal build” on their list of options for a future roll-out of field service technology. What’s attractive about this option? It’s kind of like buying a house where you know you’ll be able to build each and every room exactly how you want it. The kitchen, the walk-in closet, the media room — all just how you pictured them.

But, for anyone who has ever done home improvement construction, what seems so clear prior to development, becomes far more complex, time-intensive and expensive than originally thought. Oops! We just realized the plumbing is rusty and we need to redo it all — looks like we’re not remodeling the den!

You know what the end product should look like, but getting there is the challenge, and often times that process will compromise what the final product looks like.

The same goes for software. The dream of a perfectly customized application is indeed an attractive one, but what will it take to get there? Buy a solution that may not completely address your company’s needs, or build it and risk draining inordinate amounts of time and money that could have been much better used elsewhere.

Well, Seth Godin says that “a decision without trade-offs is NOT a decision,” and that certainly applies in this situation. Here’s why:

The cloud, and platforms like have changed the framework around this common question. ServiceMax, for example, has developed a rich application that pools years of field service knowledge and expertise. And you can buy us, in case you didn’t know 😉

Yet for those companies that need to add very specific functionality to their business and make detailed configurations down the road, the ability to tinker and update is readily available in the product on the platform. This is the “build.”

It’s buying that house which is so close to the picture in your mind, but also has the tools to easily add the 49ers poster in the man cave, or the heirloom mirror to the walk-in closet.

So, the verdict? Buy, then build if you need to. I think you’ll agree, it’s hardly a decision at all.