HighEdWeb Assocation
The Annual Conference for Higher Education Web Professionals, Austin, Texas, October 23-26, 2011

Session Details

Buy vs. Build, and why the two are not always mutually exclusive

MMP39 Marketing, Management, and Professional Development Track

Big Bend


Joseph D. B. Ferguson from The Ohio State University describes the decision making process from the perspective of the project manager and developer when comparing purchasing third party software versus building an in house software solution. The process is detailed with examples from some of the most recent projects Joseph has been involved with. The concept of turnkey solutions is explored and in some cases that attribute’s limits exhausted when combined with the 60,000+ student population at The Ohio State University. This presentation will include questions and ideas to consider when deciding to buy or build, tips for forecasting effort required with turnkey solutions, installation and support costs analysis and comparison, along with the ever present “Things we didn’t expect”. The unique makeup of the university’s decentralized information technology services leaves a select number of departments around the university with the name recognition of a big school, but in some cases, the resources and budget of a non-profit. As a big target for vendors, departments across the university are frequently “sold” the concepts of ease of installation and lower support costs associated with 3rd party applications when compared to on campus or in house development. This presentation will walk through the decision making process with information on expected vs. actual cost and time estimates for a few applications in various parts of the process. One from the angle of the in house judicial misconduct system built as an oncampus solution for University Housing, another from the perspective of project management and development of an in house content management system, one from the perspective of support for a 3rd party Recreational Sports facilities, membership, and inventory application, and finally from the 3rd party University Housing management system . Attendees should expect to get details on the project management process when faced with comparing costs to inhouse development vs. 3rd party application/service purchases, tips and questions to ask when investigating 3rd party solutions, concerns surrounding security with institutional data and 3rd party solutions, and the importance of service level agreements for post implementation support of applications.