What goes into a Buy vs. Build vs. Opensource Decision?

When making a build vs. buy decision, there are lots of axes to the decision. I’ll save the political aspect for another time, but here are some of the questions I look to answer when making a build vs. buy decision vs using opensource decision.

  • (Opensource) In 5 years, if the project is abandoned, how will I feel?
  • How will I feel if we spent $500,000 on building this feature vs. $20,000 in licensing costs?
  • How would I Feel if we spent 2000 hours building this feature instead of $20,000 in licensing costs per year?
  • If it’s open source; is there an active community? Who runs it? Is it a “search for a business model” team who will likely change the license?
  • Is it politically easier to buy or build? 
  • Can I justify supporting this piece of software for the next 10 years?
  • Is this piece of software critical to our business domain or ancillary to it?
  • If I build this, what am I not building?  What do we have to give up to build this?

What sort of criteria do you use?

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