Buying vs. Building Internal Tools: An In-Depth Guide

Published on 
May 7, 2024
Joyce Kettering
DevRel at WeWeb

In today's fast-paced business landscape, the quest for operational efficiency is more crucial than ever.

You need effective, reliable internal tools to maximize your company’s productivity and growth. Yet, a critical decision looms: should you build these tools in-house or opt for ready-made solutions?

Each path offers distinct advantages and challenges, shaping not only immediate outcomes but also the long-term trajectory of your business.

In this guide, we’ll explore the intricacies of buying versus building internal tools, equipping you with insights to make informed decisions that align with your company's goals and aspirations.

Making the Decision: Buy or Build? 

In pursuing operational efficiency, companies must carefully weigh the benefits of building internal tools versus buying them, considering factors such as customization needs, scalability, and long-term maintenance costs.

👩‍💻‍Building an internal tool from scratch allows you to customize it to fit the company's unique workflows and requirements precisely. It offers greater control over features and functionalities, ensuring alignment with specific business objectives.

Additionally, in-house development fosters a deeper understanding of the tools, which can facilitate maintenance and updates over time.

💰 Buying prebuilt internal tools, on the other hand, offers rapid deployment and access to established functionalities. It can save time and resources on development, allowing teams to focus on core business activities.

Ready-made tools often come with support and maintenance services, reducing the burden on internal IT departments.

Before deciding between these two options, it’s essential to perform a comprehensive needs assessment and a cost-benefit analysis to determine which best fits your company’s requirements and budget.

💰Buying Internal Tools: Pros and Cons

While buying internal tools might seem like the easiest solution, it also has disadvantages. Let’s examine the pros and cons.


  1. Availability: Off-the-shelf internal tools are often readily available for implementation, reducing the time required for development and deployment. 
  2. Access to Experts: Buying internal tools often grants access to the expertise of the vendor or developer, ensuring that the tools are well-designed, maintained, and supported by professionals.
  3. Cost Efficiency: While purchasing internal tools may have upfront costs, it can be more cost-effective than developing similar solutions in-house in the long run.
  4. Feature-Rich Solutions: Internal tools developed by specialized vendors typically come with a range of features and functionalities that have been refined through market feedback and iteration.
  5. Technical Support and Updates: Vendors usually provide technical support and regular updates for their products, ensuring that your internal tools remain up-to-date, secure, and compatible with emerging technologies.


  1. Limited Customization: While off-the-shelf internal tools may offer a range of features, they may not align with the specific workflows and requirements of your organization.
  2. Dependency on Vendors: Relying on external vendors for internal tools means being dependent on their reliability, responsiveness to issues, and long-term viability.
  3. Integration Challenges: Integrating purchased internal tools with existing systems and processes can sometimes be complex, requiring additional time, resources, and technical expertise.
  4. Potential Overhead Costs: While the initial purchase cost of internal tools may seem reasonable, there may be hidden costs associated with licensing, additional modules, or customization.
  5. Lack of Control Over Development Roadmap: With purchased internal tools, businesses have limited control over the development roadmap and prioritization of new features. This can lead to frustration if critical functionalities are not addressed in a timely manner.

A WeWeb Example

For example, at WeWeb, we initially purchased a PostHog subscription to better understand how our product was being used. This came at a financial cost but saved us development time when we needed all our resources focused on building a great product. 

Later, as more and more users were using our platform, we started building our own product analytics tool in WeWeb.

This took time but allowed us to get more accurate information and make better decisions because, by being 100% intentional about the dashboards we wanted to build, we developed an in-depth understanding of how data flowed and identified gaps in our previous tracking.

👩‍💻‍Building Internal Tools: Pros and Cons

Although building internal tools may seem appealing due to the level of customization you can achieve, it can be a complex process. Let’s weigh the pros and cons.


  1. Customization to Specific Needs: Building internal tools allows organizations to tailor solutions to their specific workflows, processes, and requirements, ensuring optimal alignment with business needs.
  2. Full Control Over Development: In-house development provides full control over the entire development lifecycle, from design to implementation and maintenance, allowing for greater flexibility.
  3. Ultimate Flexibility: Developing custom integrations with third-party tools allows for optimization opportunities that drive optimal performance in specific use cases.
  4. Enhanced Security and Data Privacy: Developing internal tools in-house allows organizations to implement robust customizable security measures and ensure compliance with data privacy regulations, providing greater control over sensitive information.
  5. Fosters Innovation: Building internal tools fosters innovation and a culture that values continuous improvement as employees engage in problem-solving and gain valuable experience in software development and technology integration.


  1. Resource Intensive: Building internal tools requires significant resources, including time, money, and skilled personnel, potentially impacting productivity and efficiency.
  2. Longer Development Time: In-house development typically takes longer than purchasing off-the-shelf solutions, as it involves the entire software development lifecycle.
  3. Maintenance and Support Challenges: Once internal tools are developed, they require ongoing maintenance and support to address bugs, implement updates, and ensure compatibility with evolving technologies. This can strain resources and require ongoing investment.
  4. Expertise Requirements: Developing internal tools requires specialized expertise in software development, user experience design, and project management. If the organization lacks these skills internally, it may need to invest in training or hire external talent.
  5. Risk of Over-Engineering: There is a risk of over-engineering when building internal tools, where organizations invest in unnecessary features or functionalities that do not add significant value. This can lead to increased complexity and maintenance overheads.

A WeWeb Example

For example, at WeWeb, we built our public roadmap where users can provide product feedback and upvote tickets that are under consideration. 

This approach was great from a learning point of view and is helpful to keep track of upvotes and user feedback internally. 

However, due to limited resources available to add features and maintain the app, it remains very basic and misses key features like informing individual users when we have processed their feedback.

Pros and Cons Summary

Pros Cons
Buying Internal Tools ✅ Readily Available
✅ Expert Advice
✅ Lower Setup Cost
✅ Tested features and functionalities
✅ Technical Support
✅ Regular Updates
❌ Limited Customization
❌ Vendor Dependency
❌ Potentially Complex Integration
❌ Hidden Fees
❌ Limited Development Roadmap Control
Building Internal Tools ✅ Extensive Customization
✅ Full Control Over Development
✅ Long-Term Cost Savings
✅ Enhanced Privacy
✅ Fosters Innovation and Continuous Improvement
❌ Resource Intensive
❌ Longer Development Time
❌ Long-Term Maintenance Costs
❌ Requires Technological Expertise
❌ Risk of Over-Engineering

The Power of Low-Code & No-Code Platforms for Internal Tools

Low-code and no-code platforms are innovative solutions that offer a unique blend of customization and convenience.

By harnessing the power of these platforms to develop internal tools, businesses can enjoy the benefits of customized solutions and the rapid deployment associated with ready-made offerings.

Low-code and no-code platforms empower users to create custom tools and applications with minimal front-end expertise. These developer-first solutions offer intuitive drag-and-drop interfaces, pre-built templates, and visual design tools that enable the rapid prototyping and deployment of internal tools. 

By leveraging low-code platforms, organizations can reduce development time and costs while maintaining flexibility and control over their custom solutions.

Additionally, these platforms often come with built-in features for testing and deployment.

With low-code and no-code tools, businesses can unlock the potential for innovation and customization without the high maintenance costs or time investments associated with traditional development approaches.

The Future of Internal Tools: Planning Ahead

As the future of work continues to evolve, with remote and hybrid models becoming the norm, the demand for flexible and adaptable internal tools is poised to surge. 

Custom tools offer the advantage of tailoring solutions to meet specific organizational needs, accommodating diverse work environments and workflows.

However, the convenience and scalability of SaaS tools may prove indispensable for organizations navigating rapidly changing work dynamics. 

Striking a balance between customization and accessibility will be crucial in optimizing productivity and collaboration in the future workplace.

Low-code platforms stand as a driving force in reshaping the internal tools landscape, offering transparency, flexibility, and collaboration opportunities. 

By embracing low-code solutions, organizations can leverage community-driven innovation to create cost-effective and customizable internal tools.

Furthermore, modular low-code platforms with self-hosting options such as WeWeb or Supabase foster interoperability and avoid vendor lock-in, empowering businesses to adapt and evolve their toolsets in tandem with emerging technologies and industry standards.

As internal tools continue to evolve, the collaborative ethos of low-code platforms with thriving communities will play an increasingly integral role in shaping the future of innovation and efficiency within organizations.

Building Internal Tools with WeWeb

When navigating the complexities of choosing between buying or building internal tools, businesses must prioritize alignment with their unique needs, objectives, and the evolving landscape of work.

While ready-made solutions offer convenience and rapid deployment, custom-built tools provide unparalleled flexibility and scalability. 

No-code and low-code platforms bridge the gap between these two options, offering customization and accessibility that empowers businesses to innovate without extensive technical expertise.

Businesses can optimize productivity, efficiency, and collaboration by strategically leveraging the diverse technologies available to position themselves for success in the ever-evolving business landscape.

Whether you're streamlining workflows, automating processes, or integrating with cloud services, WeWeb empowers you to drive efficiency and productivity in your organization.

If you’re ready to see how low-code and no-code can revolutionize your internal tools, request a demo or start building with WeWeb for free today!

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