The buzz-phrase of the 90's in the petroleum industry has become "Buy, don’t Build". For an end user in an oil company, this generally means acquiring application software rather than developing it internally. For a software developer, either within an oil company or with a software vendor, the concept of "buy don’t build" can apply to software toolkit components and can expedite the development of an application as well as reduce future support requirements.

This paper presents several software tools and the process by which they were evaluated for use in a commercial petroleum engineering application (DeskTop VIP). It highlights the tendency in the software development process to underestimate the complexity of the development process, as well as to underestimate the value of the services provided by a software tool. Ultimately, the decision of "buy don’t build" should be an economic decision. As a slogan, it reminds us that whenever one considers building or developing new software, one should also consider the possibility that buying off-the-shelf software could cost less in the long run and bring a product to completion quicker.

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