Buy Or Build? What Customized Tech Is Teaching Us About Talent

Inspirant’s CEO, Meighan Newhouse, is a member of the Forbes Human Resources Council and a contributing writer.  See the article on Forbes or or read it below.


As companies focus more and more on digitization, automation, digital transformation and all the other “-tions,” they are often putting the cart before the horse. They are looking for a panacea that will cure all that ails their organization, and they often look to the marketplace for a technology solution that fits the bill. What they soon find, and what you may have experienced yourself, is that there is no silver-bullet-solution for your organization. A company’s needs are unique, even if its products, services, process breakdowns or personnel issues are not.

In my experience, technology implementations of large-scale solutions bring in some of what an organization needs and a lot of what it doesn’t. This is the buy solution — going to the marketplace for a technology platform that delivers only some of what an organization needs or wants. There are some great off-the-shelf options on the market, but the advent of low-code development has also created the opportunity for companies to build and update custom platforms, often faster, cheaper and with the ability to integrate into the existing tech ecosystem.

Let’s take this concept of off-the-shelf versus customized technology — buy versus build — to our talent. Think about your team. Ideally, organizations are hiring talent that fits in with their culture, core values, mission and vision but, as you might have discovered, no one fits exactly into their job description. All of those skills and requirements hiring managers painstakingly sort out with recruiters never turn out to be the silver-bullet-solution for what the organization truly needs because the needs of your company are constantly evolving.

Similar to buying the off-the-shelf technology solution, you may have had to pay a premium in order to “customize” a team member through additional training or development. Or, perhaps you’ve had to develop some “workarounds,” such as reassigning a deliverable to a more senior employee, or worse — not bringing someone on a project because they have a bad attitude or can’t reliably deliver. The polished job description created for hiring no longer aligns with the daily tasks of the individual after a time, and you’re back to the job board, looking to hire yet another employee for yet another specialized task or project.

There is, of course, another way. According to a 2018 Gallup poll, 36% of U.S. workers at the time had a gig work arrangement in some capacity. There is no doubt that two years later, and with the unemployment rates soaring due to Covid-19, this number has exponentially increased. Hiring a highly specialized gig worker is much like building your customized technology solution. Think of it this way: You can source for an individual or team who has the exact specialized needs you are looking to bring in for your project or deliverables. You can build a team of talented independent contractors to either deliver on an entire project or to supplement your team by providing expertise that you may not have the time or resources to build in your existing staff. In my experience, independent workers are highly motivated to keep their skills updated, saving you time and money.

As the pace of change continues to speed up, organizations looking to transform may be more efficient in building technology solutions that can be customized to meet their unique needs, supporting processes and enhancing their value proposition. They may also be more effective in hiring talented gig workers that can deliver specialized skills and services that don’t fit into an outdated job description, either delivering on an entire project or supplementing your existing team.

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Date Published:
September 22, 2020

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