Are Turnkey Solutions Enough for Your Growing Business?
Turnkey solutions are a familiar option growing companies often consider during digital transformation. Are they enough for a modern SMB?
11 minute read
Nov 13, 2023
Understanding the needs of your business will help you effectively troubleshoot, problem solve, and think creatively when you run into challenges or need to make difficult decisions. For instance, when it comes to choosing software, you’ll need to know if you truly need a custom app or if turnkey solutions will give you everything you need.
Turnkey solutions are ready to go and can often be integrated seamlessly, providing businesses with fast fixes. On the other side of the coin, turnkey solutions offer little in the way of custom development for unique use cases.
The following sections will dive deeper into the definition of turnkey solutions, explore use cases, touch on the role of custom app development in modern business, and comb through all the pros and cons.
Getting your digital transformation off the ground can sometimes be tricky. Learn some best practices for a smooth and successful digital transformation in Impact’s eBook, Fast-Tracking Your Digital Transformation.
Turnkey Solutions: Breaking Down the Approach
Let’s get started with a comprehensive definition:
Turnkey solutions: Ready-to-go software that is easily deployed in a business, so an end user only needs to “turn the key” to get started.
Turnkey solutions are very useful for organizations looking to solve a specific issue, but there are certain downsides. They can lack the customization and integration necessary for businesses today, particularly those for whom flexibility and scalability are important.
These out-of-the-box applications stand in contrast to a custom-designed solution, which is built specifically for the company in mind.
Many organizations start looking toward turnkey solutions when they realize that their operations need a lift. In today’s hyper-digital world, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an organization that isn’t using some suite of digital solutions from the get-go. Many companies still have a long way to go in regards to their digital transformation.
Digital transformation is a process through which organizations can update their workflows with modern technology that improves the employee experience and caters to an audience of modern consumers who operate with a digital-first mindset.
While turnkey solutions can be a great launching point, organizations considering a more complete transformation initiative may want to consider that:
A turnkey solution is a lightweight digital strategy to gain the functionality a business needs quickly and in a cost-effective manner. However, consider the following before opting for a turnkey solution:
Your company’s strengths and weaknesses: Will this solution adequately complement the former and mitigate the latter?
The processes that will change: Does this solution demonstrate scalability, or will it need to be replaced if a business grows or shrinks?
The employees or users who will primarily use this solution: How will it affect the way they work? Are you able to train them adequately during the implementation period?
Long-term costs of the solution: While it may cost less up front, are there potentials for hidden fees or additional expenditures later? For example, are you considering a SaaS solution that has lower costs initially, but should you want to scale rises, beyond what you’d be willing to pay?
Is a Turnkey Solution the Best Option?
A turnkey solution may be appropriate when:
You don’t need to address a very specific need. An eCommerce entity is unlikely to need a custom-built CRM because effective options already exist on the market.
Cost-savings are a priority. Turnkey solutions tend to be far less costly than custom-built solutions.
The company needs a tried and tested strategy. Turnkey solutions from established providers in the industry will have a mountain of case studies and reviews for their products and be a known commodity to you.
Full-scale digital transformation is not possible or desired. If you’re just looking to get your digital feet wet, or want a trusted industry solution, then a turnkey solution may do just fine.
In general, turnkey solutions are reasonable when a company needs a ready-to-go solution that doesn’t need a lot of customization.
For many growing businesses, this may be all they need. If your digital transformation plan is centered around upgrading your technology infrastructure, for example, turnkey solutions could suit you adequately enough.
An example of a turnkey solution would be a public cloud server used for data storage.
While many businesses require a more personalized private data center for security purposes, like law firms and hospitals, the security of modern, public data centers means most businesses are quite content to use them for their sensitive data without any of the customizations of a private data center necessary.
However, turnkey solutions and a comprehensive digital transformation program can be difficult partners for a number of reasons.
Digital Transformation and Turnkey Solutions
While it may be tempting to deploy turnkey solutions to simplify an overall digital transformation, they can become problematic in the long run, and they might not satisfy the particular needs of some businesses.
Turnkey solutions can impose several limitations on the digital transformation process and actually be counterproductive, particularly to those in certain industries.
What might be useful in the short term may cause trouble down the line as you seek to expand or retract the scale of your solutions.
1. Digital Transformation Tends to be Highly Customized
A company’s digital transformation strategy should be highly tailored to that specific business. In contrast, a turnkey solution takes a one-size-fits-all approach to problem solving. Because of this, customization abilities are diminished, sometimes making them a harder fit in your overall tech stack.
If the turnkey solution doesn’t give you everything you need, though, it may become more of a hinderance than anything else. You don’t want to deploy a solution that will later need supplemental solutions.
If you’re looking for a full-scale digital transformation, your organization may be better served by a suite of custom solutions tailored to your exact needs and specifications.
2. Turnkey Solutions Encourage Businesses to Adapt to Technology Rather Than Adapting Technology to Their Sepcific Goals
A digital transformation should be guided by a vision that the CEO and CIO have for what to achieve.
If that clear C-suite agenda for tech change doesn’t exist, the digital transformation will likely fail.
Around 70% of companies experience failure with their digital transformations because they lack a proper, comprehensive strategy.
If there’s not a clear digital transformation champion within the organization, and the vision for the digitization is muddled, it’ll be hard to garner employee buy-in at every level which can cause further friction for the transformation initiatives.
As such, it’s extremely important that your digital transformation goals—particularly work processes and culture changes—based on the turnkey technologies chosen live up to what is expected.
Always identify goals first and decide what tools or strategies your company needs to achieve them. A digital transformation should not limit you; it should elevate your experience and processes, in turn driving your business forward.
3. Turnkey Solutions can Inhibit Integration
Ready-to-go solutions sometimes lack integration abilities so that the piece of software or technology works seamlessly with other business processes.
This is particularly the case with older style legacy systems, and one of the reasons that cloud solutions are increasing in prominence.
For example, a turnkey accounting solution may not come with the capability to interface with a printing environment to streamline the flow of documents like invoices or bills.
If a company is capable of fully transforming digitally, it is unlikely that relying on turnkey solutions will be totally adequate going forward into the future.
Make sure that if you’re planning to implement any turnkey solutions your business needs with other systems or solutions that they can be integrated effectively and data can be shared between them.
The last thing you want to do is get a brand-new set of tools for the job, only to find out that you’ll be creating data silos in your business because your data won’t be unified.
A Word on Custom App Development
While turnkey solutions have their role to play, custom app development has quickly become an important process that more organizations are folding into their solution suite.
When we talk about turnkey solutions falling short of a specific need, it’s often a custom software solution that can step in to pick up the slack and improve a process.
These solutions are common for most businesses, whether it’s in the office or on the warehouse floor.
Of course, two of the biggest considerations organizations have to take into account regarding software development is the budget and the timeline.
Low-code is a type of software development that makes use of a visual interface (hence “low” code; as well as “no” code platforms), allowing users to essentially drag and drop widgets to create apps.
The global low-code platform market revenue is valued at almost 22.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2022 and is forecast to reach approximately 32 billion U.S. dollars in 2024.
Low-code allows businesses to make apps and tools for virtually any process imaginable, while development time and costs are significantly reduced.
In the context of turnkey solutions, low-code is a very useful tool because it allows small and midsize businesses the flexibility to design their own apps and integrate them with a lot more ease than traditional means for software development.
Pros and Cons of Turnkey Solutions
Turnkey solutions have advantages and disadvantages for growing businesses.
Reduced implementation time
Practicality for smaller businesses
Higher long-term costs
Paying for more than what’s needed
Loss of competitive edge
Insufficient capabilities and lack of customization
Choosing Between Turnkey Solutions vs. Custom Built
Turnkey solutions are appropriate for many businesses, especially those who are just starting out on their digital transformation journeys.
It’s important that businesses and their leaders have a clear understanding of what digital tools and systems they require for their unique needs so that their strategies don’t fall short.
Organizations should understand that for many applications, it’s not an either/or situation. So long as the integration of any future custom solutions is a viable option, there’s no reason you can’t have a perfectly streamlined system consisting of both.
Having a strategy in place before you take on a digital transformation initiative will greatly improve your chance of success. Learn how you can best approach a digital transformation effort in Impact’s eBook, Fast-Tracking Your Digital Transformation.