February 26 by Miguel Tam

Been to Home Depot lately? Judging by how long it takes me to find a parking spot, construction and renovation seem to be on a tear! In fact, Harvard University just released a report showing that home remodeling is continuing to grow at a double-digit rate this year.

Walking through the Home Depot aisles, I always find it interesting to see the ratio of Carl Contractors to Harry Homeowners. Harry Homeowners are the everyday people who roam the Home Depot aisles searching for things for their occasional home improvement projects, while Carl Contractor is the home contracting professional, who’s practically on a first name basis with the Home Depot staff.

As a Harry Homeowner myself, I know I’m not equipped to tackle every home improvement project myself. In fact, I keep an internal checklist of deciding when I should go to Home Depot versus finding a Carl to do the job for me. Do I have:

  • Time to handle the project
  • Skills to complete the project
  • Tools to complete the project
  • Money to hire someone instead

Most of the time, when running through this list, I realize I should stop taking on Harry Homeowner projects and just hire more Carl Contractors!

So why am I talking about remodeling my house on a software blog?

When it comes to purchasing software vs. developing a custom app, you go through the same decision process—do you have the skills to build, or is it better to buy?

Most IT departments have the skills and tools to write their own app—especially when leveraging cloud platforms like Salesforce.  But the resource companies most often misjudge is time.

One aspect of time is how long it takes you to define, design, develop, test and deploy your Do-It-Yourself app. Based on how long it takes you to go from start to finish, what’s the opportunity cost? How much money could you be earning or saving each month if you had that app today versus taking months to develop your own?

To put it another way, if you could save $100,000 a month with a new app, and it takes you 9 months to design and develop your DIY app versus buying an app today, you’re giving up almost one million dollars!

The other aspect to consider is your team’s bandwidth. Most IT departments have a false sense of how much time they really have. Let’s face it. Your team has a lot of ongoing projects, technical firefights and “drive-by” development. Instead of the awesome, fully focused IT team you expected to take the project across the finish line, you end up with Harry Homeowner.

Harry in the remote Nebraska office.

Harry with only 2 hours a week to help.

Harry who is going camping in Yellowstone for a few weeks.

Don’t be a Harry. Think carefully about your build vs. buy decision the next time it comes to software (and also your own home remodeling projects!). Time is just one of the 7 deadly sins you should be careful of. Read the whitepaper “7 Deadly Sins of the DIY Cloud” to learn about the rest.

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