Read this before you decide to build a self-order solution in-house

Many underestimate the commitment that goes into owning and maintaining a piece of software. We’ve put together a guide that explores some of the underestimated costs of building software, and why it likely makes sense to look for a preexisting SaaS solution.

Last month, Stripe engineer and tech writer Noah Pepper published an article titled “The Treacherously High Cost of Software”. The article touches on a question that many decision-makers in our space face regularly: when to find a preexisting software solution, and when to build it in-house? As Noah’s article illustrates, the answer is that in most cases building software in-house should be avoided. That is because it is far more expensive than many people realize.

So why is software so expensive to maintain?

The world is always changing.

As Noah writes, “Just treading water costs money if you want to be compliant, secure and operable …

Your software does not run in a vacuum—the world around it is in constant flux and thus for it to remain effective it must keep pace when the external world forces a change.

If you’re considering building self-order kiosk software in-house, think about what other software platforms it will need to communicate with. Do you rely on outside vendors for your POS software? How about your loyalty platform? Your backend analytics platform? If any of the vendors you work with for these other pieces of software make a change or update to their product, your proprietary software may no longer properly communicate with it. You will need engineers on staff who are kept abreast of these updates and can get to work immediately so that your guests don’t find themselves trying to order from a broken kiosk. Some restaurant brands may decide that is a price they are willing to pay, but anyone making the decision to build in-house should seriously consider this scenario.

But it isn’t only the world around your business that is in flux.

Your needs will change, too.

As Noah writes, the problem with building in-house is “you end up either 1) Writing a specific purpose built solution that will break when you shift your business requirements or 2) Creating a generalized customizable platform that anticipates a broad array of use cases.” Let’s explore this a bit.

In the first case, you have spent money on something that may be obsolete when you inevitably decide at some point down the road that you aren’t indefinitely going to do business exactly as you do today.

In the second case, you need to build a flexible, customizable platform, and that is a very expensive proposition. It is what we are doing at Bite, and it takes a lot of time and effort. It makes sense for us, because we work with a lot of different restaurant brands with different needs and tech stacks that are constantly changing. We benefit from making a tailor-made solution for each of our brands, because there are others out there who can also benefit from that solution. When you are building software in-house to be used by your company alone, this potential upside doesn’t exist.

That’s where we come in.

This is something we at Bite understand very well. As our product has grown in complexity it has naturally grown more costly to maintain—but that is a burden we are eager to bear because this is our core business and our core mission. 

At Bite Kiosk, we live and breathe self-order. We are thinking day in and day out about how we can improve your guests’ self-order experience while in turn providing you a return on your monthly investment in us. We believe that kiosk ordering is the future and it is a future we are ushering in—not just because the numbers make sense but because we believe that our software will elevate hospitality everywhere, empowering guests to order on their own terms and matching the fast pace of their increasingly busy lives. 

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