Build or Buy? In-house MMM solution vs Sellforte
November 30, 2022 | Carmen Bozga, Juha Nuutinen, Paavo Niskala
Build or buy is always a sensitive topic, especially in today’s data-driven world. We want to give you full transparency, therefore, we decided to compare a MMM SaaS solution such as the Sellforte product to an in-house built one. We will compare several topics that come into play when deciding whether to build your own MMM solution or buy from a vendor such as Sellforte. Should you build your own? Or should you pick a vendor? In this article, we do our best to lay down the benefits & the downsides of the two to help you make an informed decision. Let’s get straight to it!
Firstly, we will look into data ownership since this aspect seems to be concerning for many companies. Data is comparable to currency in the present business world & we understand the concerns behind maintaining the ownership of data despite the fact that a second party is entrusted with modeling it.
Obviously, an in-house solution guarantees that you own your data especially if you store it on your own servers. Essentially you build your own MMM & use your own data for it. Both remain yours. However, even if you decide to buy a SaaS solution, you will still own your data. Sellforte does not own your data. We also do not share your data, not even internally. We store client data separately, and we assign separate teams for clients that belong to the same industry. In terms of data ownership it is crucial to address the topic of competition access. If you create your own MMM then your competition cannot gain access to your data since everything is hosted in house. However, with Sellforte no competitors have access to your data either. We separate the teams that work on clients from the same industry, we do not store the clients' data in a common space & we have legal clauses in our contracts that protect your data. What Sellforte owns is the methodology behind the MMM. Namely, we own the intellectual property of the algorithm. Sellforte tries to be as transparent as possible. We try to answer all the clients' questions regarding our methods & how we handle the data.
Ultimately, we believe there is absolutely no difference between the two choices regarding data ownership. The data remains yours in both situations.
The quality of your MMM results is probably one of the key factors when using MMM. If the tool does not deliver quality results then, all your efforts are in vain. When building an in-house solution, the results' quality depends on the capabilities of your team. Do they have enough experience with MMM to deliver the results you need? Do they have the vision to constantly improve your product so that you can keep up with the rapid changes in legislation & marketing trends?
Buying an MMM solution from a SaaS vendor pre-determines the quality of the results before starting the project. Sellforte can explain all of the features of our MMM model as well as the expected results right at the beginning of the project. Sellforte has tremendous experience in delivering results because this is all we do. There are no distractions and side projects for us. There are multiple learning experiences & learning trials involved when you do the same thing for different companies over 30, 50, ....or 100 times. Just like with everything else in life. Practice builds your skills & expertise.
We believe that an in-house solution cannot match the results quality brought by a SaaS solution. When you build your own, then you are restricted by the knowledge & abilities of your team. There is no guarantee that you can find the right people that can successfully finalize the project. Moreover, the quality of the project is unpredictable. Is risking the quality and usability of the MMM results is something you are willing to do? It might be especially problematic if you invest in a long term MMM project. With SaaS these uncertainties are eliminated. We strive to customize the MMM to your needs as much as possible so that you obtain the results you require.
The uncertain quality of the results is already a risk, however, we believe there are many more when you are building your in-house solution. We want to mention a few of the most relevant ones.
The risk of low quality results. As we mentioned previously, low quality results can happen and they completely depend on your team. Once you encounter these issues, they will be costly & timely to fix.
The risk of GDPR/CCPA data leak or lack of compliance. Depending on which data you use to build your solution and where you store the data, you could run into a GDPR/CCPA data leak situation. Sellforte MMM does not use GDPR/CCPA data. Therefore, there is no risk of running into legislative problems.
The risk of going over the timeline. This is a nightmare for everyone! When you build in-house the project, just like any other project, can be delayed for a multitude of reasons. Let’s check out a few of them:
- insufficient resources. Maybe you overestimated the amount of work needed to go into developing your solution & you need more resources than you initially thought
- holidays, job transitions, sick days etc. All these extra bits of time must be accounted for
- you hit a wall. As we said previously, it all depends on the capabilities of your team. Maybe you encounter some difficulties that end up being time consuming to solve
- most likely you cannot account for all the potential delays. It could be literally anything. Not even we could account for the delays if we were to rebuild our solution from scratch. However, we can 100% tell you that there will be some
With a SaaS vendor like Sellforte, there is no timeline. You decide when & what is happening.
Finally, there is the risk of going over budget. Cost is a crucial factor when deciding between an in-house solution and a SaaS solution especially when you link this cost variable with value & time. An in-house solution has a high chance of going over budget due to all the potential variables one cannot factor in the development stage. With a SaaS solution, there is no such risk. There is an agreed subscription price from the beginning that is contractually binding. Not a cent over that.
Let’s analyze cost in more detail since we believe it is a decisive factor when one chooses between building or buying. Maybe some individuals say it is cheaper to build, maybe others say it is more expensive to build but it brings more value, or one could say that if they develop in house, even if it costs more, at least the solution belongs to them.
However, is it truly cheaper or better? We would argue that absolutely not. Actually it is more expensive and not able to match the value brought by SaaS. Let’s see why:
- an in-house solution has multiple cost dimensions. Firstly, you will need to cover the costs of development. On top of that you will need to cover maintenance costs which can cost as much as a SaaS subscription. Afterwards, you will have to cover configuration costs since your data will need to be adapted to MMM and the model will have to be configured to your needs. Moreover, you will need to support the continuous development cost if you want your model to keep up with industry standards.
There are no cost dimensions with SaaS. The agreed subscription price stays without additional maintenance costs for you. However, there is a secondary cost advantage with SaaS:
- the cost of committed resources. An in-house solution will require committed resources to develop, maintain & update the solution. Moreover, you might want to consider employing someone to help you interpret the results.
You do not need to cover the cost of any resource with Sellforte MMM. On top of that, a dedicated team is there to help you integrate your data. Furthermore, Sellforte also allocates a customer success manager to you. You can have regular meetings with them in order to get the best out of your results.
We believe costs are tied to time. The more time it costs you to get your solution up and running the more money you lose. Actually, at Sellforte, we do a business value assessment with our prospects so that we can show them the cost of delaying MMM implementation.
We argue that it would take a relatively long time to develop, optimize & deploy an MMM solution. Doing it in-house, depending on the size of your company and the complexity of the MMM you wish to develop you could be looking at 1+ years until you could potentially have a functioning solution. However, there is no time limit for such a project since there could always be unforeseeable situations or your team could run into technical difficulties. With a SaaS solution the timeline is different. Sellforte gives you immediate results with daily overviews once the data is transferred into the Sellforte MMM. The time-frame of the data onboarding depends largely on you & your data quality. Reach out for more details!
The continuous development of the MMM solution is as crucial as the initial development. To meet the industry standards & keep up with your competition you will need to continuously develop your MMM. This can be both timely and costly since you will need to do your continuous research into the MMM topic as well as related topics such as legislation changes, weather changes, and other factors that influence the MMM results. Sellforte strives to continuously improve, update, and develop our service. It is the only thing we do so we must do it well. We make sure to keep track of everything that can impact MMM results & functionality so that you don’t have to. We will deliberately quote our CEO, Juha Nuutinen here: “With SaaS, you get the latest & the greatest!”
It might be difficult to compare the service you get with the MMM for an in-house vs a SaaS solution. Ultimately, if you build your own MMM you decide what kind of services you get together with the solution. However, a downside might be that you will need to hire your entire team. Talent acquisition is both costly and timely. If you performed any sort of hiring before, then you know it is not a straightforward & easy process. You will need to factor in the time and cost of your team in the MMM service.
Sellforte already has a development & configuration team, therefore, you will not have to worry about that. However, on top of that we allocate a customer success manager to you that you can meet on a regular basis. Their role is to help you draw the big picture with your results. They have experience with multiple clients and industries, and they are there to help you analyze and interpret your results. However, they also collect input from your teams so they can facilitate your internal discussions and make the results clear for everyone involved. The customer success manager is a valuable asset for our clients and they come at no additional costs. Everything is included in your subscription.
Let’s have a recap! Build or buy?
We created a checkbox table for you for an easy overview of the comparison between building your in-house MMM or using a SaaS vendor.
We hope that this article was able to offer you more clarity in your future choices! If you are curious about Sellforte, you can try out our MMM free here!
We also recommend this blog posts: Meta MMM Summit 2022 from MMM SaaS provider's perspective
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