I have been selling tour booking software to travel companies for the last 10 years and have seen so many customers that have decided to go for an in-house built solution. Sooner or later, though, they all end up switching to commercial software.
We have also learned this the hard way while developing internal software for project management. We thought we were going to have some advantages of an in house built solution but in the end, they all became disadvantages. When we started, we knew it was not going to be that easy, but as time went by, we realized it was even harder than we thought.
If you are considering what direction to take, you might find this article useful.
ASSUMPTION 1: In house software is tailored to your business processes
As your company grows, the processes will also change and improve and your in-house software will have to support this. On the other hand, commercial tour booking software products are already used by bigger travel companies and they are ready to support your business growth.
ASSUMPTION 2: An internal IT team will understand the processes better
This can’t be considered as an advantage because the main work lies on the team that will do the specification, and not on the team that ends up developing the tour booking software. The most important thing is to document your processes well. If that is the case, then there is no difference between ordering the tour booking software from your internal IT team as opposed to ordering it from any other team.
ASSUMPTION 3: It will be our advantage over other competitors
As you are focused on your core business, you will not have time to follow the trends and you will miss out on some innovations and new features.
ASSUMPTION 4: It is great to own the source code
If you are afraid of what will happen if your tour booking software vendor goes bankrupt and you end up having to spend more money on buying new software, don’t worry. It will still be cheaper than owning an in-house solution.
ASSUMPTION 5: It will be cheaper
Building software solutions contains many hidden traps that can’t be seen when you start to plan software development.
It might very well be that the expenses seem lower at the start of the project, but as it goes on, you will figure out that it is still missing some important things. The total expenses will start to grow rapidly and will probably end up exceeding the price of commercial tour booking software by several times.
There are also some well-known disadvantages and facts of in-house software development!
FACT 1: It is more time consuming
As commercial tour booking software is not 100% fitted for your company, it will probably take some time to do the full implementation and customization. On the other hand, you will need years to develop your in-house software and it will take several more for it to reach the current level of commercial software.
You must not forget that while the in-house solution is being built, your company is going to keep experiencing the same problems that you have now. This also means lower staff productivity and higher operational expenses.
FACT 2: It requires a big IT team
Among the developers in your IT team, you also need someone that is highly experienced with developing software from scratch, which is not an easy hire, especially if IT is not your core business.
Your employees will have to get some help on how to use the software or to solve some issues so you are probably going to hire someone to support your employees which brings even more staff into your team.
FACT 3: It lacks software implementation expertise
When you buy commercial tour booking software, the implementation will probably be done by well experienced professionals trained for this, which is not an easy job. Not having such a person largely increases the chance of the implementation failing.
FACT 4: It lacks functionalities
Commercial software solutions are usually developed for the needs of many different customers so they support different business processes. This means that they usually have more features, even some that you previously didn’t think of, that would benefit your company.
So, what should you do?
If you already have an internal IT team, we suggest you to use it to make a good specification of your business processes, make them write a detailed specification of the customizations that the commercial software needs to have. If possible, use your team to make the integrations of the commercial software product with any other systems you have like accounting, web site, CRM…