Make-or-Buy Analysis in Procurement: Making Strategic Sourcing Decisions


Make-or-Buy Analysis is a critical decision-making process in procurement that allows organizations to evaluate whether to produce goods or services internally (make) or acquire them from external suppliers (buy). This analysis is instrumental in strategic sourcing and supply chain optimization, helping companies achieve cost efficiencies, enhance product quality, and focus on core competencies. In this article, we will delve into the concept of Make-or-Buy Analysis in procurement, exploring its key components and providing a real-world example for better understanding.

Understanding Make-or-Buy Analysis in Procurement: 

Make-or-Buy Analysis is a comprehensive assessment that procurement professionals undertake to determine the most favorable sourcing strategy for specific goods or services. It involves a thorough evaluation of various factors, including cost, quality, capacity, and risk, to arrive at an informed decision that aligns with the organization’s procurement objectives.

Key Components of Make-or-Buy Analysis:

  1. Cost Analysis: The first and most crucial component of Make-or-Buy Analysis is a comprehensive cost analysis. This entails a detailed comparison of the total costs associated with in-house production and those of outsourcing the product or service to external suppliers. The cost analysis should include the following elements:

    a. Direct Material Costs: Calculate the expenses related to acquiring raw materials or components required for the production process.

    b. Labor Costs: Consider the wages and benefits of the workforce involved in the production or manufacturing process.

    c. Overhead Costs: Account for indirect costs, such as utilities, maintenance, equipment depreciation, and facility expenses.

    d. Capital Expenditures: Assess any additional investments required for equipment or machinery, especially for in-house production.

    e. Economies of Scale: Analyze whether the scale of production affects unit costs and economies of scale favoring one option over the other.

  2. Core Competency Evaluation: Another critical factor in Make-or-Buy Analysis is evaluating the organization’s core competencies. Companies must assess whether producing the product or service in-house aligns with their strengths and expertise. If the production process is not a core strength, outsourcing may be a more suitable choice to maintain quality and cost-effectiveness.

  3. Capacity and Utilization: Assessing the organization’s current production capacity and utilization levels is vital in determining the optimal sourcing strategy. Underutilization of internal resources may lead to increased costs, while overreliance on external suppliers may result in loss of control over production.

  4. Quality Control: Maintaining consistent product or service quality is of utmost importance. The analysis should include an evaluation of the ability to control and maintain quality standards for both in-house and outsourced production.

  5. Supply Chain Risks: Mitigating supply chain risks is a critical aspect of Make-or-Buy Analysis. Companies need to consider potential risks associated with each option, such as supplier reliability, geopolitical factors, and supply chain disruptions. Assessing risk factors helps organizations make informed decisions to ensure a stable supply chain.

Example of Make-or-Buy Analysis in Procurement: 

Let’s consider a pharmaceutical company, XYZ Pharma, looking to procure a critical raw material for one of its flagship products. The company has two options: produce the raw material in-house or outsource it to a trusted supplier.

In-house Production:

  • XYZ Pharma has the necessary equipment and expertise to produce the raw material.
  • The direct material and labor costs per unit amount to $50.
  • The company can produce 1,000 units of the raw material per month.

Outsourced Production:

  • A reputable supplier offers the raw material at $40 per unit, maintaining stringent quality control measures.

Make-or-Buy Decision: To make an informed decision, XYZ Pharma conducts a comprehensive Make-or-Buy Analysis in procurement. The company compares the total monthly cost of in-house production (including material, labor, and overhead) with the cost of outsourcing.

Total In-House Production Cost: 

                                   Total Cost = (Material Cost + Labor Cost) * Number of Units Total Cost = ($50 + $50) * 1,000 = $100,000

Total Outsourced Production Cost: 

                                   Total Cost = (Outsourced Cost per Unit) * Number of Units Total Cost = $40 * 1,000 = $40,000

After evaluating the analysis, XYZ Pharma concludes that outsourcing the raw material is the more cost-effective option, saving $60,000 per month. Moreover, it allows the company to leverage the supplier’s expertise and focus on its core competencies, resulting in improved supply chain efficiency and product quality.


Make-or-Buy Analysis is a powerful tool in procurement, enabling organizations to make strategic sourcing decisions that align with their business goals. By carefully evaluating cost factors, core competencies, capacity, quality control, and supply chain risks, companies can optimize their procurement strategies and gain a competitive edge in the market.