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Buy or Build your RIMS

Explore the total cost of ownership for a research information management system.

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Buy or build RIMS

Proactively managing research information is both increasingly important and increasingly complex. Likewise, so are the number of complicated tools designed to help with effective and efficient management.

When considering these tools, a primary question to answer is whether you should buy a commercial product such as Elsevier’s Pure or build it yourself using available open-source systems.

To help answer this question, we engaged analysts from Knowledge Eopens in new tab/window to determine the Buy or Build costs.

Pure Buy or Build RIMS whitepaper

Buy or Build: An exploration of the total cost of ownership for a research information management system

Download the white paper opens in new tab/window

Want to know more about RIMS/CRIS systems? Read our guide: Why you need a Research Information Management System.

Knowledge Eopens in new tab/window is an independent consulting company with over 20 years of experience working in research information management for organizations unrelated to Elsevier.

They did extensive research into the Buy or Build question. Their results are available in this white paper.

Research highlights

Using Pure shows a significant Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) advantage over do it yourself (DIY) solutions:

Total cost of ownership (TCO)

Build (DIY)

Buy (Pure)

One-time costs

Small institution


2.5 FTE

Large institution


8.0 FTE

Annual operational costs (1 year)

Small institution

3.8 FTE

2.2 FTE

Large institution

32.7 FTE

24.6 FTE

Annual opportunity costs (1 year)

Small institution

2.7 FTE

0.0 FTE

Large institution

22.9 FTE

0.0 FTE

Total cost of ownership (TCO)

Small institution

6.5 FTE*

4.7 FTE

Large institution

55.6 FTE*

32.6 FTE

Note: Small institution: ≤ 200 research active staff members. Large institution: ≥3000 research active staff members.

* Data for internal software development too variable to include. Actual TCO will be higher. Use RIMS TCO Calculator to compare using custom local estimates.

Pure provides 70% added value over DIY

Pure provides 70% added value over DIY

You can further reduce TCO for a RIMS solution

Based on the research with universities that implemented DIY and Pure solutions, participants reduced their TCO of Pure up to 50% by following these recommendations:

  • Buy instead of build

  • Host in the cloud

  • Prepare before implementation

  • Implement and roll out in stages

  • Streamline the upgrade process

  • Apply best practices from other institutions


Pure customers see benefits

You receive many benefits from having a RIMS system. Here are a few examples from Pure customers.

Increase international collaboration

The Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) in India implemented Pure and made their research visible to a global audience. As the first Pure installation in India, MAHE anticipated unique challenges but discovered that Pure easily met their needs.

Provide stability & reliability with customization

RTI International’s move from their DIY solution to Pure provided the right balance of a stable and reliable solution and customization. Partnering their small, empowered internal team with a Pure project manager resulted in a smooth and rapid implementation.

Manage growing research outputs

When the Universidad de Monterrey (UDEM) pursued a new direction as a research university, they needed a system to manage their small but rapidly growing research output (~40% increase per year). They selected Pure and, with dedicated implementation support from the Pure team, had a smooth transition.