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Big Fail #5: Underestimating Long-Term Ownership

If a health plan takes the DIY path, what happens to its knowledge resources over time? In the “build” scenario, an organization owns the product and every challenge that comes with it. If something breaks or becomes obsolete, will the resources to keep it up be available? Will the organization be poised to chase innovation as its competitors are sure to do? Can the plan command the talent in the marketplace to keep its unicorn solution operating at peak value? When development talent and expertise erode, it will mean trouble. The expertise to train users and provide day-to-day technical support is critical to long-term success.

Management should prepare for an ongoing tide of integration requests. Contracting and partnership for these becomes a perpetual administrative function – another cost often overlooked.

As a health plan executive, ask yourself when considering the “buy or build” argument whether there is already a mature solution on the market that will do the job. In healthcare, smart vendors have already developed an interoperability infrastructure necessitated by recent government regulations. Look for this kind of commitment from any vendor in your own industry because it could make buying a solution even easier – it certainly does in the case of healthcare.

Executives should weigh what they hope to gain from building a proprietary solution when the hard work has already been done for them. Will this give them a competitive advantage? Do they have a realistic view of the risk and ROI? Can they invest sufficiently in the initial architecture to build a comprehensive solution?

We are a nation of do-it-yourselfers who take pride in self-sufficiency, but knowing when to tap the real experts is a strength, not a weakness. Remember the adage to “do only what you do best.”

Asking hard and far-reaching questions now will help you avoid Big Fail #5.

Portions of this blog post are excerpted from Ashish Kachru’s Forbes article “Why Execs Should Avoid The DIY Software Trap.” Ashish is President and General Manager of Altruista Health.