“Buy vs Build” and the Employment Contract

Reflections on "buy vs build"

The post Reflections on “buy vs build” from the Domino Lab blog got me to thinking about how building homegrown solutions vs. buying a solution from another party can be seen through the lens of the employment contract.

Plenty has been said about the modern day employment contract, especially in terms of loyalty (both to company and to employee). The idea that modern employees are more like short-term contractors, looking to both gain personal value and add value to their employer, is one that really resonates with me.

I expect this will grow into a longer piece in the future, but at least on first glance, a tendency to build in-house rather than bring in more general solutions shifts power in the equation from the worker to the employer.

Imagine we have two workers, one of whom uses a commonly employed solution at work – we’ll say Oracle HR software. The other uses an entirely home-grown HR software solution, which is not seen anywhere outside of their current company. Both employees are ambitious and word hard, and become skilled and savvy with their particular solution.

In three years, when both of these folks decide it’s time to go on the hunt for a new job, who has gained more real-world, marketable value?

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