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Vehicle Sharing Platform: Build or Buy

by Katya Rozenoer, Marketing Manager, GoTo Mobility
A rare enterprise leader would consider developing a CRM solution in-house. Same goes for content or project management systems - why bother if there are hundreds of products in the market that are perfectly suited for every case?

It is not like that in the shared mobility world. A very large number of organizations indeed think about developing their vehicle sharing solutions in-house or outsourcing to a development company (which is essentially the same thing as in the end of the day you are the one defining and owning the tech).

There are cases when in-house development makes sense as it gives you full control over priorities, but there are many other cases when opting for a product might be a much better choice. If you are at these crossroads now, below is the list of questions to help you make a wise decision.
Three questions to help you decide
1. Is vehicle sharing technology core to your business?

This is the key question. If you answered "no", you shouldn't be building the solution in-house, since otherwise you'd be spending your precious resources on something which is better outsourced. However, if you answered yes – keep reading as there are other considerations at play.

2. Do you have enough resources for software development?

"Developing software is easy", said no one ever. It's especially not easy if you have limited experience in doing so. Sometimes this very lack of experience makes people think that this is easy but trust us - it is not.

On top of it as far as software products go, vehicle sharing technology is not a simple one. It caters to two types of users: there is the consumer who uses the vehicle sharing mobile app to find, book and access vehicles, and there is the operator who uses the back office to manage all the processes. This distinction alone already complicates things as enterprise and consumer software are different things. To make matters worse, the business of moving people also involves hardware boxes which interface with the vehicle and make the development task even more complex, requiring additional skills from developers. I won't continue the list of complications here but if you want to learn more about the vital vehicle sharing software components and how they relate to one another you can request our platform overview (GoTo Mobility Software Platform Overview).
"Developing software is easy", said no one ever
3. Are you ready for ongoing development?

Software products today are being developed and updated continuously. Industries are changing at a never seen before pace and consumers have grown to expect constant experience improvements. Their tolerance to imperfections in digital products decreases every day. The vehicle sharing market is still in its infancy, but it will commoditize soon – remember how calling a taxi 5 years back felt easy and how you're now irritated if your ride-hailing app slows down a millisecond? In order to compete, you will have to constantly work to improve your technology after it is released. Your engineering team won't be able to switch to another project as they they will have to deliver constant improvements of existing functionalities and build new features. If fact, you will have to add even more resources and attention to the whole thing. Are you sure you want to be in the software development business? Was that a yes? Keep reading.

Advice to help you succeed
Go for it!

To get this far you must have answered "Yes" to all the questions, so you are confident that you want to go for building in-house. Since we have already traveled the road you're about to take, let us guide you just a bit, so that your new vehicle sharing product becomes a success.

Become a product company

In-house development teams and development companies often work on several projects (consequently or sometimes in parallel). Product companies are only committed to one thing. Make sure this thing is your vehicle sharing platform.
You need to design work processes the way that you can test your assumptions early on, measure and be ready to iterate
Organize your product team

Having developers is great but it is not enough for building a modern software product. Bring on board product designers and – most importantly – the product manager. This person must have both technical and business skills and a lot of experience in building scalable and usable consumer and enterprise tech. Understanding the business needs behind a product is one thing (you sure have a good feel of what you need) but being able to translate those needs into product functionalities that customers want to use and understand how to do it – requires experience, methods and product mindset.

Iterate frequently and learn to validate ideas

Last thing that is well-known to those who build software for a living is that a vast majority of great ideas ends up not working. There are many reasons to that, so I won't elaborate but there are ways to avoid a situation when non-viable ideas become a business failure. In a nutshell you need to design work processes the way that you can test your assumptions early on, measure and be ready to iterate.
Enjoy the ride!

If you are on the building path – I recommend you a great book by Marty Cagan "Inspired: how to create tech products customers love". Marty is a partner in Silicon Valley Product Group and is considered being the father of tech product management, he spent decades building software and in the second edition of this book he perfectly summarizes the dos and don'ts of tech product development with an emphasis on what is possible now.

If after reading this post (or Marty's book) you started to doubt – we are here for you. GoTo Mobility team is laser-focused on developing a vehicle sharing platform that takes the technology pain away from you so that you can focus on operating your business.

Inspired
"Your industry is constantly moving and we must create products for where the market will be tomorrow, not where it was yesterday"
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