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Time Management Software - Build vs. Buy

Mar 23, 2008
Time management and project expense tracking requirements vary from company to company, but to streamline efforts and maximize productivity, nearly every organization will at some point need help. The million dollar question most companies ponder is whether to build a software solution in-house or choose a packaged solution.

In the past, many companies didn't hesitate in designing and building their own internal program to track project costs, employee time sheets and expenses. However, with software specialization getting to the point where the cost-benefit between developing, building and implementing an in-house solution versus buying a functionality rich, commercial, off-the-shelf application is becoming increasingly skewed toward the purchasing of off-the-shelf applications. Many companies are finding it is more economical and a lot less taxing to find an already developed, well packaged solution that will address their every need. After all, why reinvent the wheel and pay additional developmental salaries and benefits when a solution for a company's every need is readily available.

Some features to look for in a good off-the-shelf time management and project management solution is the ability to track tasks, activities and projects in a variety of combinations and situations. Employees should be able to record their time allocated to a particular task across multiple projects and activities as well as the company being able to track projects on a person, team and development basis. A good time management software solution also allows for the ability to estimate project costs and manage project expectations.

Additional attributes for a good time management software suite would include tracking time and costing for tasks, activities and projects as well as analyzing actual time and cost metrics. A program that would reduce time to develop project estimates and proposals as well as monitor actual costs versus original estimates would also be a big plus. Good reporting, project alerts and the ability to increase management transparency and track projects for both salaried and hourly employees and consultants could be very beneficial. And of course ease of use, fast deployment in minutes and the ability of the time management software to interface with existing software would be huge. Ready to run reporting and over budget notifications would be icing on top of the cake.

When a company experiences growth and the raised expectations that come with that growth, it is often necessary to address staffing additions as both a company's biggest expense, but also its biggest resource. By realizing in short order that a software solution is needed that allows for the management of not just time, but personnel, a company is then able to address possible solutions to their needs. A software solution that can track projects, tasks, activities and teams, as well as manage project expectations, can be very powerful and cost effective.

The decision to Buy versus Build offers the following advantages:

A Predictable Development Cost - The opportunity to evaluate the features in advance, including functions and capabilities in an existing enterprise environment.

Rapid Deployment - A packaged software application is a production ready application that can be customized for a unique environment within a relatively short period of time.

Known Maintenance and Support Costs - A commercial application vendor specializes in the development and maintenance of the products. They invest in the resources necessary to support, upgrade and maintain the product year after year using the latest technology, so you don't have to.

Strong Knowledge Base - Unlike an in-house system, a packaged solution has already anticipated your future needs and has applied best practices from the industry along with established expertise.

Core Business Focus - Buying an off-the-shelf application keeps you focused on your core business while gaining the benefit of an experienced partner in the software development industry.

In a cost-benefit analysis, the decision to purchase a product off-the-shelf can afford a company more flexibility of services in the long run. This solution also allows companies to concentrate on what they do best instead of worrying about developing a time management and employee tracking system that may not include as many features as a solution that has already been developed.
About the Author
Chris Murphy is a freelance writer dedicated to writing informative pieces on areas of interest to readers. For more information on time management tools for a business, please visit http://www.dovico.com
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