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To Build Or To Buy?

By Dave L. Brant

Nearly all large organizations seeking to find the right case management system face the dilemma: do we build the system from scratch or buy a pre-existing system? This is a decision I have seen from many different sides in my 40 plus years working in Law Enforcement. (You can read more about my background here, including my eight years as the NCIS Director.)

Law Enforcement Technology

The right technology has the power to make everyone on the Law Enforcement (LE) team more efficient and safe. However, finding a system that meets the needs of everyone — from patrol officers to “street agents,” detectives, analysts, supervisors, all the way up to the chief — has historically been an incredibly challenging task.

This is in part because these groups have such fundamentally different needs. The street officer responding from call to call needs an efficient process. The detective asking many different questions to get to the truth needs a system that is flexible. The chief needs the right type of information displayed in a format that is clear to them and their stakeholders. These different needs rarely come together neatly or receive the same priority from a product development team.

Build In-House?

I have observed that this leads most organizations to desire to build their software in-house, with the idea that they will have total control and ownership over the system. We at Kaseware, know all too well what can happen when a company build goes wrong. In fact our company was founded on an in-house build “gone wrong.” One of the biggest in-house-builds-gone-wrong, in fact — the storied FBI Case Management System Sentinel — which cost the FBI roughly a decade of time and $451 million dollars. (You can read more about our company’s storied origins and Sentinel here and here).

Unfortunately, the Sentinel story is not unique. Building from scratch has all-to-often proven to be nearly impossible as well as widely expensive. It is for this reason that, when asked by colleagues in LE leadership about case management software, I have made the following observations:

The Benefits of Buying

Though there are many reasons why I advocate for buying case management software, the three main ones typically revolve around 1.) time 2.) money and 3.) the experience of the product development team. 


If you are looking at a new software system, your team probably needs a new system soon. The time it takes to build one from scratch will leave your people suffering for longer than needed and, because building software from scratch routinely takes many years, the system becomes dated before it is even delivered.


Time and time again I see agencies paying more than 10 times the cost of an off-the-shelf product to have some small changes they think their agencies need. There are ready-to-go products, like Kaseware, that are built to be flexible so your agency doesn’t have to compromise on product fit and can avoid the extreme costs from trying to build something from square one.

Experience of Builders

When you buy something, you are not only buying the product, but the experience of the people who built the system. You will get to leverage the lessons learned from departments and teams like yours, because they will be part of the product and the team supplying it. At Kaseware we have over 100 years of LE experience (between just six of our company’s leaders) that influences the product every day and they will be able to lean on that experience while helping work through your agency’s technology challenges.

The Case for Kaseware

These are just the main points I often make to my colleagues who are asking “should we build it ourselves?” There are many more reasons why I advocate that buying is better, and specifically why you should buy Kaseware. In short, I had never seen a platform as comprehensive and economical. And looking back over my career, I know I would have been much more successful had Kaseware existed.

To learn more about the decision to build or buy, and to see how Kaseware can provide a quicker, less expensive, and superior solution, please reach out to our team today. Schedule a free demo or contact us at

Dave L. Brant is the Chief Strategy Officer at Kaseware. He is the former Director of NCIS and has over 40 years of extensive public safety experience. Fun fact: Shortly before retiring as NCIS Director, Brant was asked to guest star in one episode of the famed CBS television show NCIS.


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