SaaS Platform or DIY: Unpacking the Build vs Buy Dilemma

Building SaaS is hard, costly and time-consuming. I have discussed the challenges in building and operating your SaaS. To learn more, please see here.

A typical startup journey looks like this: you have an idea, you validate the market, you build your initial MVP, you raise some capital. After raising the initial capital or in some cases just before, you are looking to monetize by finding a product-market fit.

Now, you can spend the next few years and use the capital on building your SaaS control plane, or you can focus on your application to build core differentiation or competitive moat and find the product-market fit to generate revenue. Doing one of them is extremely hard, trying to do both will also add significant risk to the success of your business and long-term success.

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When we build an application, we typically don’t think about building an operating system or database as it makes no sense to spend time and energy and instead just use the existing components. In the same way, we have built Omnistrate (SaaS platform) that allows you to SaaSify your application software without having to spend the majority of your engineering resources in building and operating the SaaS control plane layer.

Now, some may feel like you want to have more control on this layer by writing each line by hand. By that definition, the same is true with any other software layers (like operating systems, databases, caching, etc.) and yet you offload those layers due to one or more reasons: 1/ time to market 2/ cost-effective 3/ lack of expertise. The key question you should be asking is if this is a core area of differentiation for you to give up on these major advantages.

Let’s be honest, some of you may feel that this is an area of differentiation especially if you haven’t built one, and you may feel that this will be cool and you are innovating. The truth is far from that and you can offer much more value, much more quickly at a fraction of a price than forever taking on an additional overhead for your business to build and operate your SaaS. The sad part is that it may almost cost your business as cloud providers and other competitors already have matured SaaS control plane technology.

Not only are they years ahead but they have significantly more resources than you can likely afford to allocate. It’s like saying that I want to build my own operating system because we can do a better job than experts with decades of experience, catch up with everyone in the operating system space in addition to the innovating on the core software with extremely limited resources, delay monetizing our innovation by quarters/years by risking the entire business and forever carry the baggage of running, managing, operating, distributing this operating system in the market.

You may have some unique requirements, say how you take backups or integrate with other SaaS offerings. It may make sense in some cases to innovate those parts and leverage a SaaS platform to build your SaaS control plane for the rest. However, just naively thinking that your entire SaaS control plane is unique could be a huge mistake. To support customization and flexibility, Omnistrate provides several mechanisms to inject your custom code, integrate your custom tooling/services using open standards and giving you full control to simply extend your SaaS with no restrictions. To learn more, please reach out to us at [email protected].

To learn more about why we built Omnistrate Platform, please see here.
To learn more about how users can leverage a SaaS platform like Omnistrate to address many of these challenges, please see here.