Do I ASP?

With an estimated 300 solutions on the market that automate or facilitate some link of the supply chain, the most important assessment that can be conducted is whether to ASP, buy or make.


  • The advantages: relatively fast, cheap and predictable as to the length of time it will take to install.

  • The disadvantages: It will be more difficult to add functionality, more difficult to support separate business units, it provides little support for sharing data or transactions with other systems, and it is very dependent on the product-release decisions and cycles of the supplier to obtain new features.

Option 2:

  • The advantages: This class of products (which includes offerings from Siebel, SAP and Agresso) allows customer-specific business rules and customer views to be implemented. Often the supplier will be able to suggest changes to the customer's business based on best practices found elsewhere in the industry or included in their product.

  • The disadvantages: Due to the product's high degree of flexibility, a consultant is usually required to install, configure and deploy the product, increasing the cost from three to 10 times the initial cost of the software. If managed poorly, the deployment can disrupt business. Even in the very best of circumstances, these solutions can tend toward the unpredictable in terms of schedule and cost. New features can be costly and difficult to obtain quickly, since they are dependent on the product plans of the supplier.

Option 3:

  • The advantages: There are products on the market that can provide a platform for new applications, allowing custom applications to be rapidly deployed. Capabilities specific to the customer can then be added onto the basic application framework. This type of solution can be manipulated to evolve rapidly, offering new capabilities as the business requires and providing complete control of the application to the buyer. This approach is often cheaper and more flexible than option one or two.

  • The disadvantages: This choice is only recommended if the customer is confident that he or she can build a competitive system, since they are not tapping the specific expertise of the software package suppliers. Then, there is option four: the application service provider (ASP), the infotech industry's latest sleeper offering.


The Case for ASPs















When to Buy?



















Building As a Last Resort













How Do You Know?









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