Build vs. Buy: Should your agency invest in software?

Maleka Momand April 4, 2024

Is your agency considering building an internal solution to manage policymaking? Here a few reasons why now more than ever, governments are choosing software over time intensive, home-brewed solutions.

Internal Resources Already Stretched Thin: IT resources within the state are tasked with a wide variety of tasks including the upkeep of mission-critical tools such as the network, servers, employee endpoints, and of course cyber security. Adding a large project to the stretched staff will tax them further. Even if the product is successfully built and deployed, ongoing maintenance and support are often an afterthought.

Esper’s off-the-shelf software can be configured for any type of agency is a better solution to reduce the burden on government IT. Our platform is purpose-built for government use and maintained by industry experts to ensure the ongoing success of your agency’s policy work. Esper uses best in class cyber security controls all while supporting users with 24/7 support and regular touchpoints with Customer Success Managers.

A successful internal build does not mean a successful deployment: Building software is only half the battle. In order for software to be useful, it must be successfully implemented to encourage change management. Time and again internal IT staff at government agencies use their talent to build solid software only to have the project fail due to an unsuccessful implementation. Esper’s professional services group works with agencies to determine the appropriate workflows, documentation, and templates to streamline the implementation process. We work hand in hand with your team to set and achieve modernizations goals.  Our team has worked with dozens of state agencies to overcome similar challenges faced by the State and deployed dynamic solutions statewide in Iowa, Montana, and Tennessee.

Better yet, our team designs a custom launch plan with training, change management, and a period of hypercare to ensure everyone is comfortable and well-versed in the new technology.

The Esper SaaS Product has a predictable initial set up and ongoing cost model: Just like doing home renovations, it’s hard to truly predict the actual costs of building a software product in house. Many factors should be considered: what licensing fees will you pay for tools needed for your custom build, how much staff time will it take on developers and end users to build and test the tools, and what could those resources be doing with their time instead of the build–what other priorities are sent to the end of the line during the build/deployment phase?

Esper’s SaaS platform has a stable pricing model that allows for proper budgeting of the cost of the tool for the State while allowing IT staff and regulatory/policy staff to focus on other key parts of their role to serve citizens. Our platform costs will be properly scoped as a project to prevent pricing/scope creep unless the State changes its needs. Ongoing updates, security, and support are included in the annual licensing fee.

Time to deployment with Esper is defined and shorter than a custom build: Esper’s SaaS product and defined professional services process will launch faster than internal builds. While custom software build sounds like a great idea, one of the main issues agencies face is the time to deploy this type of software. With SaaS software, the backbone is built, and in Esper’s case, its purpose is built for the government. This allows us to move into deployment and configure for your needs without building the baseline software requirements.

The Esper professional services team steps in from day 1 to do a detailed discovery of process and document needs allowing us to configure the software within weeks not years as is the case with some custom software builds. After kickoff, the agencies will know the start-to-finish timeline of the project.

Stability of SaaS and Problem Solve with Peers: When projects fail in government IT, it is often due to personnel changes and the lack of support for users. This is a complaint we hear from agencies across the United States. There is little doubt that the IT development staff is talented but with talent, there is a risk that they leave your organization and create gaps in institutional knowledge.

Our team’s depth of experience allows for a more stable platform for users and is not dependent on internal staff that may move roles. By adopting software that is trusted by governments across the United States, you can be assured your agency is using trusted, best in class software for policy management.

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