Growing data scientist skill sets and plug-in tools have significantly lowered the entry barriers to data analytics applications. Travel Managers now have a key choice: do I buy my data solutions or do I build and manage them in-house?
Building a data tool in-house seems simple enough. You use the resources at your companies’ disposal, mobilise your IT department and combine it with a few external tools and building blocks. The result? A cost effective solution tailored to your companies needs.
Wrong. The build approach is often considered first by a company, yet months down the line is found to be less cost-effective than initially thought. It takes more “subject matter expert” time to do it right, takes longer to build a robust solution, plus has issues with the quality of the underlying data itself.
Sometimes it is better to leave it to the experts.
Five reasons a bought solution is more effective:
1. The quality of the analytics
Building a solution takes time. Each analysis must have a use case, specify dependencies and calculations. Depending on the supplier, a bought solution has already been building and testing data analyses for years with real-world feedback. Their approach is tried and tested and ultimately more robust.
2. Data accuracy
The simple build approach of using excel spreadsheets and plugging in a data visualisation tool will combine data that is not clean; i.e. duplicated data with currency issues and no overlay for Hierarchies. There is the pressing issue of incomplete data where transactions are often delivered from the supply chain with missing fields. Who is going to chase down the missing data elements for information accuracy with the outputs?
Bought solutions will already handle multiple data formats and have fixes pre-built. When data is missing they have the relationships with your supply chain to go and chase down the missing data.
3. The cost
A built data solution does not need a few extra hours from staff. It requires greater I.T. resources, database experts, a dedicated development team, security expertise plus time from the Travel team for a design spec on each analysis.
A team of trained experts first need to be mobilised. Below is the expert help one needs for an in-house data tool and the average salary (in US dollars) for each expert according to Glassdoor:
Not to mention, building a data tool will take over other existing employees’ schedule. The I.T team and Travel team will be hit hard and less attention will go into doing their actual job functions to further your company goals and profits.
This is just the beginning. Maintenance and updates bombard companies with additional costs further along the line, especially when it comes to developing a new field, a new page or dealing with a change in supplier format.
Bought solutions give you the cost upfront, a yearly maintenance fee plus the cost of building any new developments will be spread across multiple clients, not just you. It offers dedicated expert teams at your disposal when new developments arise – at no extra cost to you.
4. Data security
Even though your data is in-house, data security may not be your company’s top priority. Nearly two-thirds of data breaches are caused by human error. Analytics companies live by their data security with practices, certifications and systems like GDPR, Safe Harbor and ISO. Your own company may not offer the same rigorous environment.
5. Implementation and ongoing data import management
It takes around one and a half years to internally build a robust solution that does more than display simple data. A bought tool can be ready in three months minimum.
Most built solutions also focus only on TMC data. Managing and cleansing three to ten weekly data imports from TMCs, Card, Expense and Direct Suppliers requires supplier knowledge, standard APIs and ongoing oversight. Many bought solutions have already automated the data import, cleansing and merging of data sources. If you build your own solution – this all has to be developed and managed in-house.
The verdict? Building is only profitable if there is no other option. If you want tailor made tools that do not exist in the market maybe building is worth a go. Our advice? Speak to suppliers first. SaaS companies exist as partnerships – delivering an expert, quality product tailor made to your business needs. If your needs are met, it is cheaper, faster and way better to buy an advanced solution.