Before You Build Your Own Internal Audit Tool, Consider the True Costs

By December 7, 2021 Blog
smiling owner using internal audit app

If you’re still using pencil and paper audit surveys for your company, you’ve probably been thinking about switching to a digital audit tool. While digital versions are much easier to use and save time, you may be unsure about whether to purchase a pre-made application or build a custom one.

An internally built tool will include the specific features you want and none you don’t want. You can control the look-and-feel as well. It might also seem the cheaper route to build your own, even if it’s more expensive up-front. But in order to make an educated decision about whether to build or buy, make sure you’ve considered all the initial and ongoing costs you’ll need to cover for an internal tool.

Expect the Proposed Development Price to Increase

Most businesses don’t have a suite of software engineers on staff. So, an internal build means you’ll be hiring a development company to do the work. If you’ve solicited some proposals from contractors to design and code your software, expect the initial price to increase before the project is done.

It’s normal for software projects to exceed their budgets for several reasons. Developers can easily misunderstand what you’re asking for. It’s common for business owners to accidentally leave out details in the requirements, which could cause changes to the code later on. You also might realize mid-development that there’s a feature you want to add or change.

Most software projects encounter these challenges. And they won’t tank the whole project, but they will bloat the costs.

Factor in Time and Labor for Testing, Training, and Documentation

When you create an app from the ground up, you’ll need to test it extensively before deploying it to your team. That means you and some testers on your staff need to make time on top of the normal workload to use the software and uncover any problems.

Testers are required to log issues they find and submit them to the developers. Then, when bugs are fixed, testers have to confirm it was done correctly. Depending on the complexity of your app, this process could take a while and add some labor costs to your overall budget.

Also, it’s easy to forget that when you buy a digital audit tool, it comes with training support and documentation. Your internally built tool probably won’t include either. That means you and your team will need to create any necessary training material and document the application so new employees can learn how to use it.

Determine How You’ll Store Data

Audit apps collect piles of data which you have to store in a database. If you want to install a database onsite, you’ll need a server, the database software, and a database administrator to manage it.

Unless you have these resources already, you’ll probably engage with a third party to store and manage the data, which means you have a monthly or annual fee to pay. And if you grow the business or increase the volume of information collected, that cost may rise as well.

Budget for Upgrades

The software world never rests and anything you build in-house will have to be updated regularly as new operating systems, web browsers, and database software is released. Plan to pay for updates at least once a year in order to keep the application running smoothly and take advantage of security upgrades.

Consider the Costs of Delayed Deployment

If you build an application on your own, you’ll wait months for the final product. During that time, your team is still spending hours copying notes from paper forms and compiling it into spreadsheets and reports. Also, while you’re waiting, you don’t have the benefits of features like data analysis, easy photo and video attachments, or automated remediation plans that come with pre-built apps. Meanwhile, competitors who chose to buy instead of build are using the time savings and insights to advance their businesses.

Count on Paying for Additional Features

Pre-built applications typically have a large community of users already. That means other business owners have provided feedback about what works, what doesn’t, and what features they want added. The product is constantly improving as a result.

When you build your own, you don’t have a community to help you improve the software. After the initial build, you’ll find that some functionality works well and some was not as useful as you thought it would be. Plus, you’ll likely think of features you want to add. To make those updates, you’ll end up back with the developers, racking up extra costs.

In addition, when you build your own app, it’ll only include the features you come up with. Pre-built apps that have been refined in response to years of user feedback across multiple industries often incorporate some surprisingly useful functionality that a home-grown app would miss.

Decide How You’ll Capture Data Insights

Unless you’re a data scientist, it’s not always obvious how to manage the information digital audits collect. You’ll have audit results over time, across locations, with different employee teams, and during different seasons.

How will you compile and review that information to understand where teams are doing well and how their performance changes over time? Or how can you slice and dice the data to rank your locations or uncover inefficiencies that are costing you money? Pre-built tools have analysis and dashboards built in, but unless you have some data expertise available, a custom application might not help you access the business insights hidden in your audit results.

Test a Pre-Build Application Like MeasureUp Before Building Your Own

As you’re weighing options for build or buy, you may have decided building your own app is not necessarily an economic slam dunk. If so, try out MeazureUp.

The MeazureUp AuditApp has been fine-tuned by years of customer feedback. And our developers are fully dedicated to regular improvements and updates which you benefit from but never pay extra for.

  • AuditApp is ready to go. You can start reaping benefits right away.
  • The product is offered through an unlimited user model, so you can grow and scale effortlessly.
  • Data storage is included automatically.
  • The software updates automatically so your app has the latest operating system compatibility and security features.
  • Data analytics, reports, and dashboards are included so you can easily act on business insights from your data.

If you’re ready to see how well a pre-built application works for you, try AuditApp for free! Click here for a free trial.