Wonder Why Building an In-house Subscription Platform can be Illusory? Unraveling the Build vs. Buy Fiasco

Global IT spending increased by 3.7% in 2020 over the 3.7 trillion USD spent in 2019. That’s a huge investment companies across the board made in digitizing, automating, or incorporating new technologies. A majority of this expenditure was on enterprise software. The same will be repeated post-pandemic as well. And that raises the question of whether these companies, including subscription businesses, use it to build or buy such software.

It seems plausible to build an in-house system for subscription and billing requirements at the start of your business. The other alternative of investing in a subscription and billing solution may appear very expensive. When you launch a subscription business, your in-house system may look comfortable for you, and your business operations may be sailing smooth. But you may not be able to see the future prospects and challenges clearly and fathom the long-term impact.



Flexibility, scalability, and usability are the key factors for the growth of any subscription business. A wrong system can create problems as your subscription business grows, leaving you frustrated with compatibility issues and scrambling for solutions. This can have a negative impact not only on subscription growth but the all-important customer relationship with your subscribers.

You may launch your business with an in-house system that may support you with basic subscription and billing functionalities, but as your business expands, you will be looking for more and more features to fulfill your subscriber needs and withstand the market competition as well. The main disadvantage of the ‘let-us-build’ approach is that you need to hire rightly skilled developers to spend a lot of time planning, designing, building, and testing. If this involves many customizations, it may cause significant performance issues. Not to mention increases in your overhead costs. Add to that the lack of flexibility; you may start losing to your competition.



Another critical factor that affects your business is scalability. During the initial stages of business, you may have very few subscribers, and your in-house system may have been built for this situation. As usually is the case, there is a lack of a dedicated quality control team to foresee challenges when your business scales up. Documenting business requirements and jotting down specifications is a time-consuming process.

It may happen that the entire business scenario may have changed by the time the solution is deployed. This leads to a situation where your newly developed solution becomes outdated and of little value. The ground may have shifted significantly as you were figuring out the nuts and bolts. This complex development cycle often compels you to reinvent the wheel needlessly.



Given the current competitive market condition, the usability of your system is another key factor that will hurt your business. In-house systems often end up being complex, and with this, you get usability issues. It may be difficult for your own staff or employees to understand the system, and they may take a long time to get used to it. You will need a system that is user-friendly, or it may harm your subscription growth and retention too.

So then, there is a case for ‘buying’ software to circumvent the problems ‘Build’ software presents. Here are a few points you may consider for choosing an off-the-shelf option:

  • The solution should meet many high-level business requirements and maintain enterprise architecture standards.
  • Software frameworks should be future-proof to ensure that the application does not become outdated though business processes change.
  • The strategic architecture design should ensure the use of more APIs that can be changed as per requirement.
  • ‘No-code’ solutions that allow marketing and editorial team members to affect alterations without much technical intervention should be deployed.

It helps to buy software that fits your bill as it will yield results in the long run.


  • Jeevan Ram Sattoor

    Jeevan has over 7 years of experience in the Subscription industry and with rich expertise and understanding of the Subscriber Life Cycle Management and Subscription metrics, he has been providing tailored solutions to customers and prospects across the globe. As part of the product marketing team and with his in-depth knowledge of the subscription business, Jeevan is currently focusing on targeting Media & Publishing industry to provide solutions to publishers in their transformation journies.