Build or Buy?

Sometimes our competitors are custom software developers and internal IT staffs that promote the idea of building a system from scratch rather than buying and customizing  a "canned" system. They frequently do not realize that RoofManager® is already customized specifically to the needs of the commercial roofing industry and for roof asset management.

It is true that there is almost always something that doesn't quite fit in a pre-written solution.  We realize that and usually add it in, sometimes at no charge if it is a small feature, prior to doing the installation. The result is a perfect fit for every customer without the long time frame, headaches, and expense of building a custom system.


Here are some thoughts and "war stories" to consider before embarking on a custom software development project.


An Enviable Position
Russ Brasher, President and Lead Developer of Propeller Head Software, has been developing database applications since 1988.  Early in his experience he had a couple of situations where he was advising friends who were customers as to whether to build custom solutions or buy something "off-the-shelf". He was in the catbird seat because he was helping to "evaluate" the packaged solutions versus writing the solution himself, so he had all kinds of features and prices to target, as well as first hand observations of what his customers thought were important and what represented a fair price. No surprise, he recommended that he write the solution with all of the features the customers thought were important for a price that was just what they were looking for.

The biggest, saddest surprise happened next. As I'm sure you well know, projects of any kind have a strong tendency to take longer than you expect. In the software development business, time equals money, so more time meant more cost. Who was going to pay for all that extra time? Fortunately for Russ' customers, the little ethical voice in Russ' head said "you said you'd deliver the product for that price, now do what you said you'd do!", and he did. Even so, there were inevitable hard feelings and disappointment at the increased time frame and scrimping on features that had to occur to finish the applications.


Your Last Software Vendor
Unfortunately, it is very difficult in some cases to compete against other developers who have not yet learned these lessons. We have had many cases where we lost the battle, but won the war -- after discovering the low-cost developer could not deliver the product as promised on time and within budget, we were brought back in to do so. In the other cases, we lost the battle and the war -- and so did the customers. The competing developers constantly came back for more and more money, forever promising that the final product was "almost finished". If the customers held the developers' feet to the fire, they frequently simply gave up and disappeared, leaving the project unfinished. I once heard a frustrated information technology manager say that "software development projects only end when the customer runs out of money or the lawsuit is filed." I'm proud to say that we don't work that way at Propeller Head Software. Our approach to software solutions -- whether pre-written or custom -- ensures that we are you last software vendor, not just another in a long line of frustrating experiences. We are proud to say that our customers are so satisfied, they almost always call us back for additional work.

The Money Pit
How much time and money can you commit to a software development project? RoofManager® took thousands of hours to develop -- and the development is ongoing. We provide constant FREE updates to address suggestions made by hundreds of other users just like you. Here are some of the comments and questions we hear and how they were ultimately resolved.

My developer says...
My developer says he can write a custom program that does everything your software does for the same (or less) cost." What about the additional time it takes to get the custom software developed (which is always longer than originally planned!)? You could be saving money immediately with RoofManager®. We have implemented RoofManager® hundreds of times, so we know how to make you successful with it right away. Usually, our customers stop using their old systems at the end of the first day and are up and running with all of their legacy data by the end of the second day!

Our business is unique. We need a custom solution to be sure all of our needs are addressed.
Certainly every business - even within an industry - is unique. There are things you do that make your operation different and
competitive. However, arguably 90% of your data management needs are fundamentals that apply to everyone managing roofs - stores your data, documents inspections, reports leaks, creates roof work orders, prioritizes your work, manages warranties, creates proposals and stores drawings and photos, etc. We have allowed for the other 10% (or 5% or 20% - whatever your opinion may be) by making RoofManager® highly customizable. The contents of every pick list is customizable. Dozens of fields are customizable. The user interface is designed to suggest an optimal work flow, but flexible enough to accommodate differences. We even provide a free custom reporting module that allows literally unlimited custom reporting capability.

If there are a few things that still just don't quite fit your unique needs, we can customize it for you. If you only need one or two additional features, we often provide the customization for free. In other cases, you or your consultant can add custom features. Why completely re-invent the wheel when just a couple of spokes need changing?


We want to own our application. We've been burned by companies discontinuing support or going out of business.
Whether you buy a pre-written solution like RoofManager®, contract for a custom solution, or develop your solution internally, you are going to have to depend on the person that wrote the solution for support. Turnover among all employees - especially IT staff - is higher than ever. Independent developers come and go. Propeller Head Software has been in business since 1994. We are growing, and RoofManager® is one of our primary products for which we see no shortage of demand for the foreseeable future.


Just in case, however, we have secured the source code to RoofManager® such that you can obtain it in the event something unfortunate happens that prevents us from supporting your RoofManager® installation. Most developers are very lax about documenting their code such that even they can't tell what they've done or why they did it when they look back at it. Our code is well documented so that any developer familiar with our widely supported Microsoft platforms can easily provide enhancements or troubleshooting.


Every aspect of RoofManager® has been developed with maximum value to you the customer in mind. You get all of the benefits of a program that has been thoroughly tested in the market, plus the fit of a custom solution for a fraction of the cost. From the flexible pricing to top-notch technical support, RoofManager® has been designed to save you money -- NOT be a "money pit".


What do you do best?
What is your core competency? You must be an excellent roofing professional, or you wouldn't be considering improving your efficiency through software. But do you really think it is best to get involved in writing the software? You might not think you will be involved in actually writing your custom solution, and you probably won't be writing any computer code. However, your developer does not demand a lot of time to get your solution right, well, it won't be right. Conclusion Our first and foremost intention with this message is to share with you some advice that will hopefully allow you to avoid some costs and headaches. We don't deny, however, that our intent is also self-serving - we want your business and hope you will decide to purchase RoofManager® so you can immediately have all the benefits of an application designed for your business at a reasonable cost.

Thanks for considering what we have to say. If we can ever be of service to you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact
us toll-free at 888-508-4353, or via our contact us page.