SFA App: Build or Buy?

September 13, 2022

With the increasing stability and affordability of mobile devices, the question of whether a sales organization needs SFA solution has been settled. Every sales organization, big or small, needs an application to track the day-to-day activities of their sales force. More often than not organizations deploy a third party SFA tool with proven credentials, our own Assistive being a leading example.

Smaller organizations only have to evaluate the tools available in the market to make a decision. When it comes to larger organizations though there is an additional angle to the decision owing to their large size and legacy sales processes which need customisation. This is whether to build their own custom application or go with a third party tool or not.

There are two major arguments made in favour of building one’s own system. First is to control the cost and Second is to customise the workflow to perfectly fit the legacy process. Here we examine both these arguments in order.

  • Cost

Many companies believe that their workflows are simple enough, and the one-time cost of building an application in-house or through a software development vendor for this simple functionality seems to be low in comparison to the multi-year cost of using a SaaS solution. However, this evaluation ignores a number of important costs that should be considered when making a decision. For example:


An SFA tool is much more than the screens of a mobile app or web interface and a few fixed reports. Industry leading SFA tools have several features that custom developments usually skimp on – resulting into less than optimum functionality and continuous manual effort to make up for it. Examples of this are master-data management processes which make it effortless to manage Stores, Products, Prices, users etc. and advanced analytics functionality which provide flexible reporting functionality to meet the evolving reporting needs of all users.

Continuous Innovation:

Leading SFA companies are conducting continuous research and development to improve the functionality and user experience. They also learn from other implementations to make improvements to the overall solution. A one-time custom-developed solution would most likely never evolve and the organization is likely to be disadvantaged against competitors using best-in-class solutions.

Avoiding Technological Obsolescence:

Technology is continuously evolving. Mobile operating systems get updated every year, and faster and better web technologies are also introduced at a fast pace. SFA companies keep up with these changes because they have to mandatorily serve the needs of all customers – each of whom is likely to use a different device and platform. If a custom developed solution is to avoid becoming obsolete technology, it must undergo continuous development as well.


Internet security is a continuously moving target. When doing custom development, a completely secure app is very difficult to build in first place and ensuring ongoing security without a dedicated and continuous security testing and fixing process is impossible. Custom developments are highly vulnerable to security issues – putting valuable company data at risk and leaving the company exposed to disruption and downtime.


Leading SFA solutions run on highly complex computing infrastructures – ensuring redundancies in processing, connectivity, data backups and power supplies etc. They maintain 24x7 monitoring of their systems also have well developed procedures for disaster recovery – ensuring that the systems will be up and ready with minimal downtime in the case of a security breach or a force-majeure situation. Low cost custom solutions often do not have access to the same level of infrastructure deployment and maintenance – exposing the company to data loss and downtime.

Avoiding People Dependence:

A custom SFA solution will necessarily be developed by a one-off development team who will eventually move on to other tasks or other jobs. Once the original team is gone, such a solution will become practically unmodifiable and unmaintainable without a lot of effort. The organization may even be left with a non-functional and unfixable solution if it experiences a major flaw or crash in the future. Most leading SFA organizations would have little risk of this type because they maintain a large ongoing development team with expertise in the solution, and also have a robust knowledge base and knowledge-transfer process to deal with any personnel changes.

So, there are a lot of hidden and ongoing costs involved in running a highly reliable SFA solution.We believe that if all these costs are accounted for, a SAAS based SFA solution is the less expensive option – and also the more reliable and functional one.

  • Customisation

Every organization believes that they alone have the best sales process and no other entity can convince them to change it. This is especially true with older and larger firms. When evaluating SFA tools, this kind of organizations end up not being satisfied with any of them because none of them can perfectly accommodate their sales process. This leads to lot of decisions to create their own apps which will exactly reflect their sales process.

While this might make sense at the surface, one needs to understand that if an organization is running a very typical sales process which cant be served by any SFA tool, may be the organizational problem lies in the sales process. Most of the tools, especially our own Assistive, can accommodate almost any sales process which has a logical flow of activities. Getting hung up on minor differences can lead to selection of the wrong tool or creation of the wrong system.

Technology solution rollout in any organization is a period where everybody’s work process is undergoing a transformation. This is a time to embrace change and look outwards to identify and adapt industry best practices rather than being very rigid on the sales process and throwing the baby with the bathwater. We hope we could be of help in you arriving at a decision regarding SFA for your organization. If you would like to take a look at our solution and how it can be both cost effective and will fit well to your sales process, please fill the form in the link below and let us get in touch with you.