A Complete Guide to Software Integrations DIY vs Off-the-Shelf

The right decision while choosing between off-the-shelf software vs custom software will determine your company's future growth. Learn about the pros and cons of both options.


When it comes to searching for the best software solution, one problem that most organizations encounter is choosing between building vs buying the software. In workflow automation, it's highly paramount for enterprises to decide between off-the-shelf software vs custom software - which involves building the entire system in-house. Well, making the right decision between these options depends on a couple of factors, including the company's needs.

If you don't know, a good workflow automation solution involves a few processes, including the replacement of your manual business processes with automated processes, based on workflow rules. Also, this requires integrating your third-party systems to facilitate the seamless movement of data, back and forth, between them.

What is Software Integration and How Does It Help My Business Grow?

System integration solutions are there to help your business overcome any software or hardware challenges that may arise. They are made up of component sub-systems built into one functional system that preserves productivity and accurate data analysis.

While software integration services require an upfront investment, they can produce exceptional returns. Some of the advantages include:

  • Lower IT Costs
  • Lower Customer Turnover
  • User-driven Innovation
  • Improved Sales and Productivity

The competition in digital business is growing rapidly and companies are struggling while managing the ever-expanding data they are collecting from people, clients, and suppliers. 

Using traditional methods can be very time-consuming to manage everything individually. By utilizing software integration services, you ensure your company's efficiency, effectiveness and eliminate the disruption caused by storing your data in different places.

Facts About Workflow Automation Software You Should Know

According to this guide, poor lead management costs companies around 1 trillion USD every year. You surely don't want to see your business among those, right?

  • More than half of the work time is wasted on unproductive prospecting.
  • CEOs spend around 20% of their time on tasks that can be automated with software integration.

Time is Money! Yet many companies burn valuable time performing manual tasks that could be automated. So, to stay ahead of your competition, you should consider investing in workflow automation software.

The rest of this article will help to guide your decision about software integrations; DIY or Off-the-Shelf. However, before continuing, you may have a more in-depth look into the software workflow automation process here.

Build vs. Buy Software: Making the Right Choice for Your Business

Off-the-shelf software is pre-functioned and designed for all users, while custom software is built to serve specific business needs. 

Since off-the-shelf software is pre-functioned, it may not meet all of your business needs. Before deciding to choose between "build vs buy" for the software, you need to first get yourself familiar with the benefits and challenges of both options.

Top Benefits of Having It In-House

1: Complete Customization Control

Complete control on customization is perhaps one of the main benefits of custom software. While commercial packages may seem perfectly fit for your business, it's worth knowing that one-size-fits-all doesn't work anymore. As such, it's not guaranteed that they will have the same efficiency as custom software. 

Suppose you are building software that is fully aligned with your business requirements. Having complete control will result in a product matching your business requirements fully and your staff will have a better understanding of how the software works.

2: Increased Agility

Having an in-house team helps you change your project's features quickly when required. They can add new features according to the organization's needs while closely assessing their technical background. Also, the in-house team will always be available to help deal with bugs, faster.

3: Unique solution to your needs

You'll surely agree with us that vendors, regardless of their expertise, don't have a better picture of your current and future business needs, when compared to your in-house team. As such, you can rest assured that your team will work with prior knowledge and clear vision - this includes the company's target audience, history, and competitors.

That said, the bottom line is that in-house development will make it pretty easy to come up with a uniquely designed solution to address your organization's unique problem.

4: Competitive advantage

Another great benefit of creating your workflow automation software in-house is that you'll have a "competitive advantage" over other businesses because of your unique solution. What does that mean? By having your in-house team on the project, your organization will get to make use of software, exclusively designed to meet your business's needs. The software will pack the required features, without including the unwanted ones.

5: Quick modification & extension

By creating your workflow automation software with integration capabilities in-house, another thing that's in it for you is a quick modification of the software without having to wait for off-the-shelf iPaaS product developers. In case you don't know, since your team understands what the business needs to survive in the future, you can rest assured that the software will come with the ability to be quickly modified and extended.

6: Intellectual property ownership

If your company decides to go for an off-the-shelf software solution, it means the copyright will be owned by that developer of the software. However, that isn't the case in an in-house development. Instead, your organization will gain full ownership of the software.

Cons of Having In-house Software Development

1: Lack of Talent

One of the challenges that you'll likely encounter while developing your workflow automation software in-house is the lack of enough talents to successfully execute the project. Let me start by asking this question; do you already have the in-house workflow automation development expertise needed to execute the project? If yes, and you're very sure about the capabilities of each of your in-house team members, it means you're certainly safe from this barrier.

However, in most cases, there aren't always enough talents in-house for companies to successfully execute their software development projects. As such, they rely on hiring new talents to work closely with the existing in-house team to execute the project.

2: Time Management and Consumption 

As earlier mentioned, since you've decided to dedicate a team for the project, it means you might need the services of new talents, such as designers, front-end & back-end developers, quality assurance, documentation experts, business analysis, and a project manager. Of course, that has a lot to do with the capabilities of your existing team members.

That said, while finding qualified individuals for your in-house development, you also have to manage their onboarding process and set up HR. Well, it's worth knowing that these processes require a lot of time and money.

3: R&D resources

Another shortcoming of creating your workflow automation software in-house is that it requires a lot of research and development (R&D). That said, apart from having in-house developers, you'll also need the services of designers, project managers, QA professionals, technical leads, and product managers to help you carry out a lot of research.

4: Maintenance & regular updates 

In most cases, when you outsource your development project, iPaaS vendors always offer support in terms of maintenance and providing regular updates. However, this is never the case for in-house development. Instead of that, you'll need to spend additional cost over time, to maintain the software and keep it updated.

5: Staff turnover issue

Your software development process might be at risk if any of your employees leave the job. Any employee can go away, and you will be left with no option but to invest in and train new members.

What Type of Businesses Should Prefer In-House Development?

When it comes to in-house development, several types of businesses, most especially those with workflow automation and integrations as their core business, would benefit a lot from this option. For these companies, integrations are their main focus and so every dollar invested in the R&D of these systems will lead to a thorough understanding of this tech area and the initial high cost will most likely pay off long term.

Furthermore, companies with very unique and strict requirements on how the workflow automation and integration capabilities must look like and behave will benefit from in-house development. That's so because doing that gives them full control over the entire development process. However, main factors such as cost, R&D effort, core business focus, and maintenance, should always be considered.

Signs That Your Business Needs Workflow Automation

When it comes to the need for a workflow automation solution with integration capabilities for your business, you'll certainly see a host of signs. That said, here are some of the signs to determine whether it’s time to introduce it to your business:

  • First, if you’re looking to grow your revenue by providing extra, advanced features to upsell, this is a good sign that it's time to introduce workflow automation to your product.
  • You need a workflow automation solution with integration capabilities as soon as your customers start asking for more after getting familiar with your products.
  • Another sign is if you're getting more demands from your customers, asking for customization.
  • If your product is not “sticky” enough and can be replaced easily with other alternatives, then it's time to opt for this solution.
  • Are you interested in extending your reach and attract more sophisticated, high-ticket customers? If yes, this is a sign that you need a workflow automation solution with integration capabilities.

Top Benefits of Using Off-the-shelf Technology In Your SaaS Product 

1: Price-Wise Expertise

We all want to see our business become a reputable brand. But at the same time, it can't be achieved overnight. You should analyze your current business circumstances. 

The cost of acquiring an off-the-shelf technology is more reasonable for many businesses as compared to in-house software development. That said, in case you don't know, there are many professional software integration and workflow automation technologies available out there, to help you succeed and reach your goals with a smarter budget.

2: Smart Time to Market and Reach New Clients

Since setting up an in-house team can take most of your time, acquiring an off-the-shelf technology will certainly do the opposite and save you hiring and staffing issues. By opting for this type of software solution, you'll have enough time to concentrate on growing your business or on other vital factors of your company.

3: Reliability 

When compared to in-house developed software solutions, off-the-shelf technologies are much more reliable. That's so because the integration platforms as a service software are tested across all the vendor’s customers - this is very unlike in-house developed technology.

4: Scalability

Another benefit of opting for off-the-shelf workflow automation with integration capabilities technology is full scalability. What does this mean?

As you drive better sales and grow your business, it's very normal for you to get more demands. While this is a great achievement for your business, the bad side of it is that your DIY solution might not have enough capabilities to handle the ever-coming demands.

Well, this isn't the case for off-the-shelf iPaaS technologies.  That's so because they are often built from scratch to scale with more integrations, users, or data transactions.

5: Embedded iPaaS Perk

Professional integration and workflow automation vendors, such as Appmixer, offer Embedded iPaaS integration. With that, it means you won't have to invest a huge amount of money in traditional development and maintenance. Interestingly, this offering will help in keeping your customers stick with your product, while having the best possible experience.

What is Embedded iPaaS?

Integration platforms as a service help businesses deal with the complex API requirements and connect applications and data with external & internal products and services. It also enables your customers to interact with your APIs.

Having an Embedded iPaaS in your SaaS product can offer you a huge advantage and provide you with a much stronger product for your en-users. You can download the guide to using Embedded iPaaS here to see all the features.

embedded ipaas guide

What are the Main Challenges Of Choosing an Off-The-Shelf Solution?

1: Lack of unique solution 

Just like every software out there, one of the challenges of using off-the-shelf iPaaS technologies is that they offer a solution that is readily available to your competitors. The bad side of that is it might lead to having a compromise in terms of your functionality.

2: A one-size-fits-all approach

In today's digital world, you'll surely agree with us that no two businesses are the same, and as such one-size-fits-all doesn't work anymore. However, this is exactly what most off-the-shelf iPaaS technology offers.

Without a doubt, these technologies offer a host of great features and capabilities. The problem, however, is that your business might not need most of these offerings.

3: License fees

You'll surely agree that the more your business grows, and more of your end-users engage with your embedded workflow automation and integration features, the more you usually have to spend on license fees for the off-the-shelf technology. Make sure these license fees are aligned with the pricing structure of your product.

4: Too much reliance on Third-party Vendor

Another challenge that you'll likely encounter when you opt for off-the-shelf technologies is too much reliance on third-party vendors. By going for ready-made iPaaS software, it means you are not the owner of the intellectual property.

iPaaS vendors typically offer their technologies in one of two ways: either as a hosted SaaS service or as an on-premise installation package. If you opt for the hosted version, you have to take into account that your customer's data or other type of data will be shared with your iPaaS vendor. Always keep that in mind when choosing an iPaaS technology. If data privacy and security is your concern, look for iPaaS vendors that offer on-premise packages. 

But that's not all. You'll also have to depend solely on the vendor for regular updates on the technology. 

5: Security Risk

Data Privacy is something no company can compromise, but you have to compromise it when going for an off-the-shelf solution. 

That being said, before committing to a company, here are some of what you should look out for: 

  • Check the vendor's work portfolio
  • Is the vendor financially stable?
  • Does the iPaaS vendor have all it takes for a successful project, such as a reliable support team, tools, and equipment?

If everything looks good, the next thing is to check their terms and conditions. This will help you to find the best partners to work with which ultimately lowers the security risks.

6: Higher Customization Cost

The price can vary if you need to upgrade or customize your current app. You have to pay a vendor every time you need minor or major changes to your app. This may incur higher costs if you are not dealing with a company that is already offering you full control over your customization - both the unique integrations and UI. So a key research point is finding out if the IPaaS provider you like offers you these features.

What Type of Businesses Should Prefer off-the-shelf Technologies?

Any fast-growing business, especially those that start seeing an increasing requirement to add more integrations - this could either be internal or between your product and other 3rd party products - can opt for an off-the-shelf iPaaS solution. This also extends to businesses that start seeing the need to use workflow automation to automate their internal processes as well as extending their product to be able to provide higher flexibility through automation, to meet your customers' expectations.

Moreover, if your product is providing a B2B technology to extend your customer's systems in some way, iPaaS integration and workflow automation capabilities can allow you to deploy your technology to your customers much more quickly and possibly in a self-service manner.


The DIY vs. Off-the-Shelf strategy depends on your business needs, resources, and priorities. We have outlined both pros and cons, and now it's time to make the right decision. 

If you can't afford to dedicate a complete in-house team to develop a DIY workflow automation software with integration and great UI capabilities, we suggest that you outsource because building the right team and resources requires a lot of time, money, and hassle. 

Moreover, if your current development team is occupied with other tasks, going for an off-the-shelf system is certainly a very good option. 

Also, you have to make sure that your in-house team can handle the complex tasks of developing a workflow automation technology, which is stable and interfaces with multiple systems. If the software becomes too complex, and minor mistakes can lead to higher costs and risks during modification.

By outsourcing to a high-skilled software vendor, you can have hassle-free work with the latest technological implementations in Embedded iPaaS. 

While iPaaS helps your business with internal integration issues, Embedded iPaaS will help deliver workflow automation and integration capabilities within your product. Read more about embedded iPaaS and its perks here.

Download the Complete Checklist to launch Visual Automation Builder to your product 

Download the complete checklist to launch a visual automation builder to your SaaS product and put your business on the right track. The checklist helps you determine how to choose a vendor, how to launch it and more importantly, presents a real live case study of a company who did. Don't miss out!

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