Buying Versus Building Internal Tools: A Cost-Effective Approach

Buying Versus Building Internal Tools: A Cost-Effective Approach

Did you know that no-code and low-code platforms can slash internal tool development time by a staggering 90%? It's a fact that's reshaping the way businesses approach software development.

With the advent of low-code platforms, the age-old debate of buying versus building internal tools has taken a revolutionary turn. These platforms offer a cost-effective alternative and empower teams to create customized solutions tailored to their unique needs.

But the question remains: Should you invest in off-the-shelf software or harness the power of low-code platforms like ToolJet to build your own?

In this article, we'll delve into the 'buying versus building' debate and highlight why a low-code approach might be the cost-effective solution you seek.

The Traditional Approach: Buying Off-the-Shelf Software

There's a tried-and-true method that many businesses have leaned on for years when it comes to software development: buying off-the-shelf software. This approach involves purchasing pre-built internal tools that cater to a broad audience. While it's been the go-to for many, it's essential to understand its advantages and limitations fully.


  1. Quick deployment: Rapid deployment makes the most compelling case for buying an internal tool. Rather than dedicating months or possibly years to building a custom solution, teams can quickly onboard and assimilate off-the-shelf software within hours or days. This ensures businesses remain agile, swiftly adapting to changing needs.
  2. Standardized features: Most pre-built solutions are designed with the end user in mind. What does this mean? Even those without technical expertise can navigate the tool without a steep learning curve. Furthermore, a standardized UX often translates to minimal hiccups or usability issues.
  3. Cost-effective initial purchase: Upfront development costs are avoided. While there may be subscription fees, they often pale compared to the costs of building and maintaining a custom tool.
  4. Community & vendor support: Purchasing internal tools often come with dedicated customer support and training resources, reducing the internal burden of troubleshooting and user onboarding.
  5. Established reliability: Many users have tested these software solutions, ensuring that significant bugs and issues have been addressed before reaching your hands.


  1. Lack of customization: One size doesn't always fit all. Off-the-shelf software might not cater to specific business needs or unique processes, leading to workarounds or inefficiencies.
  2. Recurring costs: While the initial purchase might be cost-effective, there can be recurring costs for updates, licenses, or additional features that can add up over time.
  3. Potential for bloat: These software solutions often come with a plethora of features, many of which might only be relevant to some businesses. This can lead to unnecessary complexity and wasted resources.

The Modern Approach: Building with Low-Code Platforms

Imagine crafting a software solution without penning down a single line of code.

Intriguing, isn't it?

This is precisely the promise of low/no-code platforms. They empower you to design bespoke applications tailored to your business needs. Moreover, leveraging these platforms results in businesses consuming a remarkable 70% fewer resources than traditional methods.

But like everything, there are two sides to this coin:


  1. Tailor-Made Solutions: Low-code platforms allow businesses to design applications that precisely meet their requirements, ensuring that every feature is purpose-driven and adds tangible value to the business process.
  2. Rapid Development: Efficiency is paramount, and low-code platforms facilitate quicker application development and deployment than traditional development methods.
  3. Cost Savings: Consider the financial implications of engaging an entire development team or the ongoing expenses of proprietary software. Low-code platforms present an economical alternative, substantially reducing these overheads.
  4. Empowerment: These platforms democratize the development process, enabling teams to innovate and take the initiative without overly dependent on specialized technical experts.
  5. Scalability: Business needs evolve, and so should software solutions. low-code platforms provide the adaptability required to modify and expand applications in line with business growth.


  1. Learning curve: Despite their user-centric design, an initial phase of familiarization is required with low-code platforms. It's essential to invest time upfront to maximize the platform's potential.
  2. Performance limitations: While low-code platforms are versatile, there might be constraints regarding highly complex tasks or specific high-performance requirements.
  3. Dependency on platform: The continuity and stability of your applications are tied to the platform's reliability. Any challenges the platform faces, or changes in its features can influence your software. Thus, selecting a dependable platform and remaining informed about updates is crucial.

Exploring low-Code Platforms

ToolJet is a transformative software solution designed to democratize business application development. At its essence, it allows individuals, regardless of their technical expertise, to create functional applications using visual interfaces.

This approach eliminates the traditional coding barriers, making tool development more accessible. Additionally, the platform translates visual actions into underlying code, ensuring the end product is robust and functional.

Key Features and Capabilities

  1. Swift app creation: ToolJet is designed for speed. By minimizing traditional coding, the platform facilitates rapid development of custom internal tools, ensuring projects move forward efficiently.
  2. Budget-friendly development: ToolJet offers a solution that's easy on the pocket. Reducing reliance on specialized developers & hefty softwares, ToolJet curtails initial and ongoing costs, making internal tool development more economical.
  3. Seamless tool integration: One of ToolJet's standout features is its ability to mesh effortlessly with existing databases & internal tools. This ensures a smooth and integrated workflow, enhancing team productivity.
  4. Adaptable frontend development: ToolJet streamlines the process of building visually captivating business applications. It promotes real-time collaboration and automates deployment, making the development journey smoother.
  5. Robust data connectivity: ToolJet shines in its ability to connect with a myriad of data sources. Whether it's applications, databases, or APIs, ToolJet ensures data flows seamlessly, with options even to craft custom connectors.

Security and Compliance

Data is the lifeblood of modern businesses, and its protection is non-negotiable. Here's how low-code platforms like ToolJet  rise to the challenge:

  1. Integrated single sign-on (SSO): ToolJet seamlessly collaborates with renowned SSO providers, including but not limited to Okta, Google, and Azure AD. This integration ensures users can access the platform securely and efficiently.
  2. Isolated deployment options: ToolJet introduces the option for air-gapped deployments for organizations with stringent security protocols. This feature ensures the application operates in a protected environment, isolated from potential external vulnerabilities.
  3. Comprehensive activity tracking: ToolJet's audit logs are transparent, capturing every action within the workspace. This transparency is crucial for oversight, ensuring compliance and security standards are upheld.

In a nutshell, low-code platforms are not just about ease of use; they're about combining that simplicity with the depth of functionality and security that modern businesses require. No wonder 70% of new business applications are projected to use low-code/no-code technologies by 2025.

Case Study: How ToolJet Transformed Operations for Emeritus

Emeritus, a prominent global education platform, grappled with operational bottlenecks that impacted efficiency and increased overhead costs. As a company heavily reliant on engineering prowess, its arsenal of internal tools held strategic importance.

The challenge arose from disparate systems, hindering the seamless consolidation and utilization of data across various platforms. This discrepancy created a ripple effect on customer service quality, prompting the quest for a comprehensive solution.


  • Fragmented systems: Emeritus encountered the complexity of disconnected systems, which hindered the integration and analysis of data across diverse platforms.
  • Cumbersome processes: Suboptimal internal tools introduced friction into routine tasks, slowing down customer service responsiveness and operational agility.
  • Resource drain: The resource-intensive process of crafting and sustaining internal tools incurred substantial operational costs, undermining overall efficiency.

ToolJet's Remedial Approach

Emeritus turned to ToolJet to engineer a transformative turnaround:

  • Strategic integration: The journey began with a Proof of Concept (POC) application tailored for the course delivery team. This self-hosted implementation, executed in collaboration with business stakeholders, streamlined functionalities effectively.
  • Expedited development: A staff member well-versed in SQL and JavaScript spearheaded the POC app development, ensuring minimal coding intervention. Subsequent iterative refinements led to a fully operational application within weeks.
  • Operational excellence: ToolJet's intervention eradicated the need to navigate multiple systems concurrently. This empowered the course delivery teams to navigate participant experiences seamlessly.
  • Future prospects: The internal systems team promptly recognized ToolJet's potential to propel the creation of comprehensive applications. The data science and learning units also explored ToolJet's applicability, reaffirming its transformative potential.
  • Scaling horizons: Emeritus envisions an expansion trajectory, envisioning engagement with 3-10 developers and potentially accommodating 300-500 end users within the upcoming months. As the platform's utility resonates, this user base projection could exceed 1000 users over the subsequent year.

Making the Right Call: When to Build or Buy Your Software

When deciding between buying internal tools or building with a low-code platform, several factors come into play. First, assess your business's unique needs: does a ready-made solution suffice, or is customization crucial for your operations? It's also vital to evaluate the long-term benefits and return on investment.

While purchasing might offer immediate solutions, building often promises greater flexibility and scalability. Platforms like ToolJet have shown that low-code solutions can be robust and adaptable, potentially leading to more value in the long run.

Whether you prioritize agility and bespoke features or lean towards standard functionalities with quicker deployment, your decision should mirror your business's aspirations and strategic objectives.