Whether one should purchase or build an information system (IS) is a decision that requires specialized expertise to make. For the upper-management, the outcome of both decisions may be the same, but the cost, risk time and labor requirement may differ greatly. Furthermore, the problem for which system acquisition is being considered can be difficult or impossible to solve using a purchased IS, necessitating additional work to adapt or implement it. Evaluating these challenges requires specialized knowledge and expertise, which is generally available to IT specialists. For upper management, this decision is not one that needs to be made often. Thus, obtaining the requisite knowledge carries a significant opportunity cost that is likely to significantly outweigh the benefit of bypassing IS specialists in deciding whether to buy or build an IS.
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Although a general understanding of IT and IS concepts is beneficial, it should not be necessary or prioritized in upper-management. A competent and trustworthy IT specialist can design a system acquisition proposal that accounts for the task at hand and factors outlined above. However, an incompetent or untrustworthy one can direct the upper-management toward a wasteful or corrupt decision. Thus, the issue becomes one of competency and accountability, suggesting that upper-management requires the degree of IT expertise that is sufficient to notice gross mistakes or deliberate misdirection while delegating such decisions or consultations.