When You Should Build Not Buy

When You Should Build Not Buy

Alex Phelps wrote this on

If there is an existing product that solves a problem for your business that isn’t part of your core value chain, it’s almost always better to buy than build. But what if there isn’t?

Each time something new comes up, I like to take a step back and think about the problem we’re really trying to solve and the experience we really want to give our customers before we default to buying another tool. With all of the SaaS apps available today, it’s all too easy to be a little trigger happy about buying a tool without thinking too deep about the issue and how to approach it.

When does it make sense to build?

  • If your needs are deeply tied to your core product.
  • If the solution to deliver a great customer experience doesn’t exist on the market.
  • Integrating with an existing tools is going to be exceptionally clumsy.

We built our help docs with minimum effort but powerful results.

We went over our requirements for our help docs and it was clear that the existing Help Desks on the market didn’t fit quite our needs, one requirement in particular was a deal breaker, white label. On the flip side of that, “Help Desks” or “Help Docs” with mostly static content are also not overwhelmingly complicated.

It was clear, in this case, the relatively low complexity of building help docs with static content and the high value of it being completely integrated to our product meant we should build. From there, it took about 3 total days of development to build our Help Docs.

It actually took us longer to put together the first batch of articles than it did to build the backend itself. If we had bought a Help Desk tool, we would have needed a few days to customize the look and feel, and then still would have to write the content, which is the real value, so I feel pretty good about 3 days invested for the development.

Initial Goals for Our Help Docs

  • Completely integrated with a seamless experience, our customer’s success is #1.
  • White Labeled for our agency customers, their customers need help too.
  • Indexed in Google, everybit of indexed content helps.

Here’s what we came up with to meet our goals.

Help Docs Preview

Help is always there with our help docs, more and more customers prefer self-service and we made it right front and center.

call tracker help docs
White Label Help Docs Preview

For our agency customers, the help docs branding is seamless with their brand. Even the support address is customizable so they can route support inquiries into their workflow.

call tracker help docs white label


We think that we met our initial goals and are pretty happy with how our help docs have turned out. The great thing is, we now have a solid base to continue building on top of, we already have some ideas on how to improve it. In the spirit of launching an MVP, we’ve decided to push forward with this initial release.

Tell us about your process

When it comes to deciding to build or buy, what’s your thought process?

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