Spring is here, and wedding season is coming right around the corner. For those getting married in the next few months, mazel tov!

But for those who are just starting to plan their perfect day, there’s a lot to consider. While many folks have grandiose visions of the dream wedding – elegant decorations, appropriately dressed guests, and a lovely tropical honeymoon – one of the biggest expenses that everyone has to carefully consider is the meal. With dinner costs running about $150 per person (and out here in San Francisco, that’s very reasonable!), a banquet of 100 guest can run $15,000 for food alone!

Believe it or not, thinking about how to pay and plan for your wedding is a lot like purchasing enterprise software. In both scenarios, you need to think about:

  • Bandwidth: How much time do you (or your friends and relatives) have to coordinate the logistics and menu of your wedding meal?
  • Costs: How much will it cost in total, including taxes, drinks and tips?
  • Risks: What’s your backup plan if something unexpected happens, like an AWOL caterer, or rain on your wedding day etc.?
  • Experience: How much experience do you, your friends, and relatives, your caterer or restaurant have creating the experience of your dreams?

See, I told you there were similarities. Ultimately, whether it’s a wedding banquet or an enterprise app, if you’re trying to make the project a success, here are three options most people consider:

Build:

To be honest, I haven’t been to a wedding where the wedding party cooked their own food. But according to a lot of wedding blogs, Do-It-Yourself (DIY) meals are very suitable for small weddings and keeping your costs down. Of course, this requires someone you trust to have the expertise – and more importantly, the bandwidth – to cook a meal for a large group.

The same thing goes for enterprise software. If you build it yourself, you could save a lot of money, but at what expense? And what are the risks? Does your team have the skills and the bandwidth to not only build the app, but to scale it, and ensure it’s successful over time? Make sure to read the whitepaper, Seven Deadly Sins of the DIY Cloud, to find out more.

Outsource:

Catered meals at weddings can be awesome. My favorite was one in Paris (thanks Joe and Annie!). But it takes a lot of planning to do it right. Who’s a suitable vendor and what kind of menus to they have? What kind of plates do you need to get? How many utensils? What about chairs and tablecloths? How do you coordinate all this to show up correctly on the wedding day? What happens if one part doesn’t come through? How often do you need to meet with a vendor to get things right?

In enterprise software, outsourced development firms offer the same conundrum. There are some amazing companies out there that can customize a solution to fit your exact need. But how long will that take? Does the company you’ve chosen have the expertise in the subject matter? What happens when you can’t get the bridezillas in your company to agree on what the “dream” app should do? And unlike wedding meals, what happens to he app after the initial deployment? What if your needs change? Are you really prepared to plan for another wedding banquet of enterprise software updates?

Buy:

My wedding was at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. It was a beautiful setting, and they offered almost everything we needed right “out of the box.” Before the wedding, we met with the wedding coordinators at the hotel, selected the menu we wanted, and we were good to go. No multiple meetings, no unexpected charges, no one AWOL (well, except for the piano player who got in a minor car accident!). More important, we had a stress-free wedding and we’re still married for over 15 years!

Same goes with enterprise software. If there’s an application out there that offers most of the functionality you’re looking for, why wouldn’t you go with it? Small personalizations (like adding custom centerpieces to the wedding tables) can be done with no headaches. Sure, you could replicate an out-of-the-box app yourself, but that introduces a new plethora of time and unexpected costs to the equation. No thanks, just meet me at the St. Francis.

Of course, wedding banquets are a simple way to think about enterprise software purchases. There are actually a dozen factors, you need to consider in evaluating enterprise software.

Tired of talking about weddings and ready to get serious about your enterprise application evaluation strategy? Then read the whitepaper, Demystifying the Build vs. Buy vs. Outsource Decision for Enterprise Apps.

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