Is a SaaS platform the right solution for your organization’s needs, or is a custom-built solution the answer?

If you’re asking yourself this question, you’re not alone – the rapid rise of cloud-based software solutions has challenged previous assumptions about in-house development being the fastest and lightest approach. However, navigating the various pros and cons can be confusing, particularly if you are not from an IT background.

Here, we compare the two approaches, from initial set-up to security, to help you make the right decision for your business.

What is a SaaS Solution?

Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions provide ready-built software, accessed via a secure online platform, paid for on a subscription basis. This means organizations can quickly access services such as CRM, analytics, accounting, or even an end-to-end digital marketing platform. These are usually fast to integrate and easy to budget for, with no additional maintenance costs.

What Is A Custom Build Solution?

Custom build solutions are built from the ground up, either by in-house technical teams or by third-parties, to your company’s specific requirements. They are fully customizable but can become unwieldy and/or expensive to maintain over time.

How Do The Two Solutions Differ?

Factor 1: Initial Setup


+ Multiple features, fully road-tested

+ Rapid deployment

+ No large initial setup costs

- Not all features may be applicable

- May lack several features which are specifically important to you

Custom Build

+ Fully customizable – you select the features and the scope

+ Can be quick to deploy if the requirements are simple

- Must be built from the ground up

- Significant initial outlay

- In-house or agency technical and project management resource required

- The cost is not fixed and may spiral

Factor 2: New Features


+ New features regularly released

+ Beta programs allow you to road-test and feedback on new features before they launch

-  New features may not meet your specific objectives

Custom Build

+ You define which new features will be developed

-  Internal processes – such as prioritization and approval – can delay deployment

Factor 3: Costs


+ Paid by subscription, enabling easy budgeting

+ Subscription fees include licensing, updates and training

+ No additional cost to you as new features are released

- Non-standard features may cost extra

Custom Build

+ Maintenance costs may be low if no new features or changes are required

- Expensive in-house team, contractors, or agency needed to maintain the platform

- Extra budget and resource required to develop features or make changes

Factor 4: Simplicity and Access


+ Scalable solution

+ Team access managed via super-users

+ Comprehensive training materials provided

Custom Build

+ Complete control over the back-office including access and permissions

- The organization must provide its own training

Factor 5: Security


+ Secure platforms, usually regularly tested by specialist teams and/or third parties

+ Automatic security updates

+ May have a dedicated security team

- Any online platform carries additional security risks compared to a fully offline solution

Custom Build

+ Your technical teams have complete control over security and data protection policies

- Security protocols must be continuously reviewed

- You will need to ensure any relevant third parties have stringent procedures and policies in place 


SaaS solutions are ready-to-use and cost-effective, providing you with an array of features evolving over time (with no additional cost). Additionally - security, data protection, testing and training are all handled by the provider.

Custom-build solutions are fully customizable to your organization from set-up to ongoing evolution. However, they can be expensive to build and maintain, and any future evolutions of the platform will need to be budgeted for and resourced at the time.

If you’d like to understand more about how SaaS platforms differ from custom build solutions, download our e-book here.

How BRIDGE Can Help Your Organization

BRIDGE is a specialist SaaS provider, offering online-to-offline solutions from Online Listings and Store Locator products to a full end-to-end, online-to-offline marketing platform. Read more about how we could help your business.


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