Legal Technology

Build vs Buy: What Solution Works Best for Your Enterprise Legal Team?

Build vs Buy - Enterprise Legal-04

There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution in tech. What works perfectly well for one team may not work for a team with a different set of needs. Capabilities and use cases vary from one organization to the next.

So the age-old question must be asked: should you build your software internally, or should you turn to a third-party, prebuilt platform to address your problems?

Related: Why enterprise legal teams need software

The appeal of building software

The curb appeal of building your own software is obvious.

By creating what you want from the ground up, you know exactly what you'll get. You know your pain points and can easily conceptualize solutions to those problems. Also, because you have complete ownership of your tech stack, you have more oversight into maintenance and monitoring. If needed, you can be your own support team without needing outside help if there are outages. And as a kind of bonus, building your own software doesn’t have the sticker shock of a monthly or yearly subscription fee.

While that sounds ideal on the surface, there is a wide delta between appeal and implementation. Developing software takes a lot of time, and man-hours don't grow on trees. If your development team is already busy with maintaining your own digital product, the time and expense of creating an entirely new, in-house software is a luxury you can’t afford.

Related: Break the legal silo and work better with Dev/IT

This lack of time makes prioritizing improvements to your new Legal software more difficult. In addition, engineering teams don’t often find themselves working in the legal space. Working without full oversight, a fumble from that team in implementation can be a huge problem down the road.

If your development team has the bandwidth, experience with legal software, and the month-to-month support capability to successfully create software, building a custom solution is an option.

If not? Buying that software could be an easy fix.

Buying software over building software

Buying software might sound like buying a suit off the rack. Maybe it’s a little easier on the front end, but aren’t the long-term concerns outweighed by the ease of use at the start?

Related: Why Legal Needs Software

In reality, if you properly evaluate the software you’re looking to purchase, all of those concerns can be assuaged.

More often than not, there are out-of-the-box solutions that will align with what Legal needs in its internal build. Obviously, a thorough inspection of the software you would purchase is necessary, but a firm kick of the tires and a look under the hood can reveal that there’s already a third-party solution that meets your needs. 

Teams that work in developing Legal software will also always be more in tune with the Legal space than your standard internal development team. As experts in the space, a vendor will be familiar with pain points, recent updates to best practices, and the granular development details. By finding an expert partner to pair with your expertise, you’ll be better prepared for whatever curveballs are thrown your way.

Related: How to convince enterprise stakeholders to invest in legal software

Naturally, by partnering with third-party software, your own Legal team becomes the captain of its own ship. Rather than needing to route updates or changes through Engineering or Development teams, Legal can handle its own implementations. That means more oversight, fewer mistakes, and fewer problems.

What to look for when evaluating software

That being said, before purchasing Legal software, your Product team needs to be a full partner. This is a space they live in, so bring them into the conversation. Having an active relationship between both parties fosters a smooth third-party implementation process. Between the two teams, there are the key questions you should be considering.

Does this software interface cleanly with the technology you’re already using? Is it customizable? What’s the ROI you’re predicting? Does it scale? What happens during outages and how often do they occur?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you find which third-party software is the cleanest fit for what you’re looking to accomplish. Then, it’s just time for implementation: no headaches, no problems.

To learn more about why Legal needs software and how to go about purchasing it, download the eBook, The Definitive Guide to Buying Software for Legal.

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