You can often hear arguments against the Not Invented Here Syndrome. Yet there are circumstances, when not doing something in-house can bring huge risks in the long-term perspective.
In his piece In Defense of Not-Invented-Here Syndrome Joel Spolsky highlights the most prominent case when something must be done in-house:
If it’s a core business function — do it yourself, no matter what.
However, for continued sustainability of a company it is almost inevitable that at some point it will have to go one level deeper. In order to be able to deliver on its core function company would have to gain control over the foundation beneath that core function.
- If you are in business of producing smartwatches, the vendor of system-on-a-chip that you use controls what you can and cannot do.
- Vendor's failures can hurt even if you are Apple: Apple plans to move to its own chips in MacBooks.
- Same with software. Standard UI components provided by the platform work well until you discover bugs that block you, like Daniel Jalkut did when working on MarsEdit.
This idea of going one level deeper is applicable not only to hardware or software, but other types of businesses and situations as well.