We sat down with Ross Nelson, IT Manager for Belron International, who shared his insights on the main considerations and implications when deciding to buy in software vs building your own.
“The Buy vs Build decision is, at the end of the day, directed by the capability you are trying to support for the business, the strategic nature of the solution, knowledge, skills and capacity for the team and the ongoing support and maintenance; all are major considerations for Buy or Build”
Belron International has a global workforce of around 29,000, functioning across 30+ different countries. As a business Belron are federated, giving each of their business units a large degree of autonomy over their decisions. Ross is part of the Digital and Innovative Technology group within Belron, which is split between innovation, architecture and transformation. Ross is in charge of the transformation team which lead central solutions that impact a number of Belron territories. Most solutions are custom built, bespoke and support off-the-shelf tools.
The challenge of a large tech team spread across the globe - how do the Belron Group innovate?
The transformation team at Belron have a number of different approaches: whether that’s small solutions as POCs, prototypes, direct solutions, or indeed through Hackathons - which involve a number of the innovation team taking the time out to solve a particular problem for a particular business unit.
There are opportunities for replicating tech innovations across the business units. The transformation team will partner up with a particular business unit for a new technology solution or approach, and the other business units get to see how well it performs in situ.
With such a big team, why buy?
Building your own solution can solve bespoke business challenges but maintaining a platform takes ongoing resources which often are not accounted for. Tapping into the know-how of 3rd party providers who will be able to advice and even pre-empt future issues with significant foresight, saves a lot of headaches.
You have to look at:
1. What the particular challenges are.
2. What the solution is trying to achieve.
3. How bespoke is the solution; is there something in the marketplace that can be bought off-the-shelf?
4. Do you have the skills, knowledge or capacity internally to support that solution moving forward?
Support and platform maintenance is a major consideration. We may potentially look at building in-house as a starting point and then handing over to a 3rd party for actually providing that support wrapper.
What is the benefit of buying?
It’s about leveraging the base solution. It means you’ve got the potential to create a standardised approach for something that can be very quickly rolled-out once you’ve done that first implementation. You’ve then got an appropriate process for rinse and repeat.
Looking at Belron, having a standardised approach for the implementation for the various challenges that similar business units have is probably one of our prime considerations.
Do supplier’s product roadmaps influence the decision?
Yes definitely. A near term item on the road map might spring you into a decision to go with them.
Another aspect is whether they are open to looking at building a road map with customers, and then you're keen to continue that engagement.
Usually external focused development keep ahead of market trends and can bring insight from other customer problems they have solved.
Extracts from the webinar with Ross Nelson, IT Manager for Belron and Emma Lampert, Head of Customer Success at Localz, looking at the main considerations and implications when deciding to buy in software vs building your own. Ross shares his insight from leading IT strategy at Belron.
How Localz work with Belron
Localz provide smart messaging and location technology to keep pace with consumer demands for constant real-time updates and first time fix. We work across the Belron Group to provide software solutions including:
● An “On my way” real-time customer communication solution using location technology to trigger SMS messages to customers, updating them on the live ETA of their technician and a real-time tracking web-portal. See how we work with Autoglass®: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZz_wvXXs00&t=12s
● Scan to Van technology providing perpetual stock take and automated replenish lists that save employees time. See how we work with Safelite®: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCxxocgF5iM&t=16s