The Real Cost of Building a QI System Yourself

Picture of Jason Williams

Published on 9 October 2019 at 16:55

by Jason Williams

outsource or build - 02


"Why buy Life QI when we can build a QI project and analytics system ourselves?


Over the last 3 years, the Life QI team has spoken to many hundreds of organizations as they’ve considered Life QI as a solution for running and tracking their quality improvement projects.


In evaluating a new system, there are always options. Sometimes, those options are our competitors, but with little competition - far more often - organizations are deciding whether they should buy Life QI or build the same functionality internally.


There are certainly times when an internal build makes sense.


  • Maybe you’re strapped for cash, and time is a resource you can part with for now.
  • Maybe your team has an abundance of engineering and design talent and can afford to focus them on building and maintaining a new system.
  • Maybe you have a small number of projects run by a co-located team so a low-tech solution is perfectly suitable.

All are legitimate, and all have a place in the build vs. buy discussion.


I’ve come to learn that when organizations consider building it themselves, however, there are a few commonly held misconceptions that can get them in trouble. Oversights about the upfront costs, the time it will take to build, the cost to maintain, and your team’s motivation can make the build decision seem much simpler and cheaper than it actually is.


Here are some of the top misconceptions that lead organizations to decide to build an in-house QI platform instead of using Life QI:



1 - cheaperReason #1: It’ll be cheaper


People assume that because they’ve already invested in their team they will be saving money if they end up building an improvement platform themselves, rather than using a ready-made solution like Life QI. 


The process involved in building a platform similar to Life QI, requires extensive planning and an intricate build which would include user research, design and wire-framing, story-boarding, building, and regular reviews between the developers, designer, and project management team, not to mention the system and user testing that is needed. 


You might think it takes a couple of days for an engineer to build an improvement platform from scratch, but in reality, it takes a multidisciplinary product team every bit of 6+ months to research, build, test, and deploy a half-decent, fully-featured platform. The build obviously does not end there. This type of system needs continuous maintenance and forward thinking. The maintenance cost alone can end up being as expensive if not more expensive than the build.


Users want to know that the platform is ever progressing with new features along with a robust support centre, which includes recording tutorials, holding live training webinars, constantly updating help articles, manning live chat and responding to support emails. 


Beyond all of the above is ensuring you have the right security measures in place. You would require a server infrastructure, the skills to maintain this, the application certifications that can cost a small fortune, instant technical/security support, the list goes on. I promise you your engineers will thank you for outsourcing this!


An off-the-shelf quality improvement platform could cost you a fraction of that and will be in use instantly, driving ROI from day one.


Cloud-based learning systems, It's where the future is going"

Prem Kumar, Quality Improvement Advisor, HQSC, NZ



Life QI - Build it onceReason #2: You’ll only need to build it once



When most people weigh a build versus buy decision, they fantasize about a set-it-and-forget-it build scenario. They probably have one initial use case in mind. 


How hard can it be to build what we think we need?


Well, what happens when you want to iterate on it?


Quality Improvement is continuous, and this goes for the process, tools and reporting you use to execute improvements, as well as the subject matter of your improvement projects. All too often self-built solutions lag behind the desired workflow causing manual workarounds to develop that build inefficiencies. By the time you want to iterate your internal system, your engineering team will have moved onto something else. 



3 - financial decisionReason #3: This is purely a financial decision


Even if you’re cash strapped, money is not your most valuable resource. Time is. Even the simplest improvement system can take months to build. In those months, dozens of quality improvement projects could have been started or made tangible strides towards delivering improvements to patient care, and/or cost savings. There is no time to waste when it comes to improving healthcare.


It’s not just the dedicated engineering time. It’s also the time it takes your team to decide on and implement a strategy. The input that the improvement teams provide, the back-and-forth to change ideas, the analysis that goes into evaluating and testing your new system - it all adds up.


"Extremely effective to work in teams, to track your project progress, to get everyone on board with QI (engagement), to pitch your project, to support measurement collection"

Agnese Iazzari, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust 



4 - staff to helpReason #4: Lots of staff to help


At the point of decision, you may think you have the perfect team to execute the software build however, 1 month into build you could end up with a number of staff leaving or being re-assigned. One of the biggest in-house software development risks is the loss of employees. After companies have invested significant resources in their own software, the staff that built it can easily move on and you’ll need to invest in new members of the team again, with specific skills. Also, as the project expands, you have to hire more people and if the employees work full-time in-house you are subject to additional fees such as insurance, equipment, holidays, etc.


5 - updates

Reason #5: Continual functionality updates


In an ideal world in-house software would be updated on a regular basis with new features and functionality but the reality is this often does not happen. An in-house solution is created and then updating new features falls to the back of the list and before you know it the system hasn't been updated for years.


External software companies pride themselves with keeping up with innovation and are at the forefront of new technology. With this in mind they continue to update their software, come up with new features and often work with their users to continue to evolve the system. 


With quality improvement becoming more and more poignant in many healthcare organizations, the need to install a systematic approach to QI and patient safety is more important than ever before. Encouraging staff members to take part in quality improvement projects can be difficult but with ready-to-go solutions containing all the QI tools, this process can be accelerated.




Why not give an off the shelf solution a try for free, with no obligation to buy? Click on the free trail button and give it a go!

Start your Free Trial



If you need a little more convincing check out our Why Life QI? blog.





Start improving with Life QI today

Full access to all Life QI features and a support team excited to help you. Quality improvement has never been easier.

Free 30 day trial