Whether to hire consultants or use in-house resources for development projects is a debate that has been around since the day of the dinosaur (and by dinosaur, I mean the mainframe!). Do you outsource your development efforts to an outside company? Or do you adjust, as needed, and keep development in-house?
BizTalk and Microsoft’s integration platforms
This article focuses on BizTalk development and the primary IT decisions that executives must make when weighing the potential benefits, functionality, and long-term ROI impact when managing Microsoft’s integration platforms.
Integration platform decisions
The following decisions are usually considered in any integration development project:
When deciding whether to develop in-house or hire consultants, one of the first decisions to make is whether the cost will be worth it. Executives often have to deal with sticker shock when faced with the typical consulting rate. Any reputable BizTalk consulting firm will have a fairly high rate when compared to the salaried employee. Firms will often simply say, “Well, employee x is a competent, bright developer. Can’t we just pay for a little BizTalk training and hope it works out?”
In-house development potential costs and risks
What cannot be measured by this simplistic example is the additional costs and risks associated with such a decision.
- You get what you pay for – You have made the financial commitment to bring BizTalk integration into your business. Why leave the maintenance, support, and key development efforts to anyone other than the absolute best – the BizTalk expert consultants? It’s like buying a Maserati and only using it to pick up groceries. Sure, it’ll get the job done, but are you really getting what you paid for?
- BizTalk expertise – BizTalk is a complex, multi-layered, enterprise-level Integration tool. The benefits that come with the decision to bring BizTalk into your organization are unlimited. The very best BizTalk developers in the world have taken years to hone their knowledge and mastery of the product. There is no shortcut to expertise, and not a single book or classroom training can ever replace years of hands-on experience.
- Worst case scenario costs – While an in-house developer with limited BizTalk experience can conceivably put together a “BizTalk solution” for you, what happens in a worse-case scenario when, after the solution is put into production, an emergency setback occurs, and customers are impacted? With money flying out the window, and angry customers banging on your door, would you trust the internal BizTalk resource to make everything right again? How much could a “worst case scenario” eventually cost you?
Put that way, the extra dollars you dedicate up-front for certified, experienced BizTalk developers is peanuts compared to the extra cost and sleepless night you’d endure otherwise.
Which brings us to the next benefit of using third-party consultants for BizTalk initiatives: Saving Time. Time is, potentially, the most valuable asset an IT executive has to manage.
With an IT development team focused on a myriad of activities and having limited additional bandwidth, handing off BizTalk development to a trusted consulting firm whose primary focus is BizTalk development and support is invaluable.
The ability to keep your in-house team focused on issues that are in line with their skill set and also necessary to the company’s success ensures resource efficiency and productivity.
The last benefit may well be the most important, risk management. As mentioned previously, your BizTalk Server likely manages and integrates a litany of mission critical processes within your organization and serves as the very heart of your order processing and application integration infrastructure.
If given the choice, who do you want supporting your organization when these mission critical systems go down? Who do you want creating the BizTalk solutions that will process your customer orders? When the chips are down, who do you want on your side?