When you identify a feature gap in your SaaS offering, you have a few options for filling it. First, you could purchase ready-made technology to plug into your existing software. If you have the capabilities, you can build the solution yourself in-house. Finally, you could partner with another organization, well-versed in the features you seek to bring the solution to your customers.
With so many options available, how do you know when to leverage which? This article will dig into the pros and cons of buying, building, or partnering with others to improve your technology offering, along with different scenarios in which each choice is more appropriate.
Understanding the Challenge
When you have a feature gap, you risk customers leaving for a competitor or losing prospects. With this in mind, it’s critical that you fill the audience-driven need as effectively and efficiently as possible. Your new solution must meet customer needs, but it can’t put your company operations at risk simultaneously.
Buying a Solution
Purchasing a ready-made solution tends to be the quickest option. In this scenario, you identify a solution that meets your needs. From there, you must ensure the feature set you purchase meshes well with your existing technology. You may need your internal product team to make some adjustments or, at the very least, provide access to APIs.
Buying your solution may be faster than building or forging a partnership, but it may also be the most expensive. However, you often get to offload customer support requirements to your solution provider, which can be a huge relief to your customer service team.
- Can be fast
- External support for issues and bugs
- Receive regular updates for both security and new features to stay competitive
- Requires internal commitment to onboarding and training necessary team members
Purchasing a solution is your best bet when you have the budget to go elsewhere, need to fill a feature gap quickly, and don’t want to handle support for bugs in-house.
Building a Solution Internally
The next option is building your feature internally. This requires much more support from your internal team than if you bought or found partner-based alternatives. However, the significant upside is that you maintain full control over what is developed.
Typically, going to the build route is still quite costly upfront as you need extra internal resources to develop, test, and execute your solution. Additionally, after deploying the new feature, you will be solely responsible for customer support, which means you’ll need to continue paying for extra internal resources. However, you’ll likely save money in the long run compared to purchasing a ready-made solution.
- Complete control over the feature set
- Total ownership of the solution
- Typically a slower process
- Internally responsible for customer support
- Requires extra internal resources to enable
- Open still costly upfront
Building a feature internally is preferable to buying it or partnering with another vendor when you have an established Product and Customer Support team that can handle developing a solution and aren’t worried about the time commitment.
Partnering to Create a Solution
It starts with having a little bit of a strategy, and considering what gap are we trying to solve by creating the partnership? If it’s merely a go-to-market partnership, those tend to be less successful in my opinion. What tends to be really successful is where it’s really obvious to both organizations’ customers the value of why the partnership exists, so great integration and filling a really important need. Then, the go-to-market activities start to really progress in a much more natural fashion.
Executive Vice President Business Development and Strategy at Incorta on the Partner Channel Podcast.
The final option is the best of both worlds. By partnering with another organization to create a new integration, you can split the resource requirement needed for development. So while your Product team will still need to be involved, their ask will be much smaller and not ongoing.
Partnering to enable a feature set is faster than building in-house but likely slower than purchasing a ready-made integration. It takes time to align your teams and implement, but your partner will typically take on customer support responsibilities once executed.
This approach is the most cost-effective, often requiring no investment up-front. Typically, your existing Product team can handle interfacing with your partner, so you don’t need to pay for any extra resources. Similarly, working with a partner is free, although you may provide revenue sharing or other benefits in exchange for the collaboration.
- Share resources with your partner
- Typically faster than building an in-house solution
- Partner is responsible for customer support
- Requires internal support to enable correctly
Partnering to enable a feature is the best choice when your Product team is prepared to interface with another organization, you want to get up and running faster than building a new feature set in-house, and would prefer for your partner to take on support requests.
Fill Feature Gaps for Your Users & Prospects
Filling audience-driven needs to fully satisfy your users and prospects is an effective way to maintain your competitive advantage in the market. You need to either buying, building, or partner to solve product gaps and avoid being overtaken by competitors.
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