One of my daughter\u2019s first complete sentences was a toddler\u2019s declaration of independence: \u201cI do it self!\u201d\n \n Whatever skill she was honing at the time (using a spoon, tying a shoelace), she knew instinctively that being in control was the best option. Maybe not the fastest way to get it done, but certainly the most rewarding.\n \n That DIY spirit crackles and pops throughout Senior Editor Kim S. Nash\u2019s snappy cover story this month (\u201cThe Secret to Successful Software Innovation Projects\u201d). \u201cNot everything in IT is a commodity like a box of 500 picnic forks,\u201d she points out. The story explores the risks and rewards of building your own enterprise software\u2014an idea that sounds almost quaint in these fevered days of everything packaged and everything cloud.\n \n Each of the companies featured in our story\u2014Alcoa, New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) Euronext, private equity firm Kohlberg, Kravis and Roberts (KKR), Owens and Minor, Eurpac\u2014took the DIY route to gain a competitive advantage. \u201cBuilding is not easy,\u201d as Steve Rubinow, CIO of NYSE Euronext, says. \u201cIf it were, everyone would do it and we\u2019d get no edge.\u201d\n \n And what an edge it can be, in the right circumstances. At KKR, for example, the creation of its own business intelligence system gave the firm a competitive weapon so powerful that the company founders praise it publicly and other equity firms wish they could buy it.\n \n \u201cIt\u2019s a boost to the staff when KKR has competitors in to look at what the analytics system can do,\u201d says CIO Ed Brandman, who spent $2 million on the development effort. \u201cThat\u2019s a big deal.\u201d Brandman notes how far the IT pendulum has swung away from building in-house, so it\u2019s an especially big commitment for companies that do decide to go that route.\n \n Despite their successes, none of the CIOs in our story would sugarcoat the downsides of a DIY enterprise software project. Mapping out the forecasted costs and potential returns is tricky. Uncertainties run high and the risk of failure is even higher.\n \n The biggest wild card of all is your in-house talent, which has to excel at everything, including development and project management, plus be experts in enterprise architecture and business processes. And it doesn\u2019t hurt to have a healthy dose of pioneer spirit.\n \n Today my daughter makes her living as a software developer at Google, the world\u2019s most successful haven for do-it-yourself IT innovators. When it comes to \u201cI do it self!\u201d there are still some believers out there.\n Maryfran Johnson is the editor in chief of CIO Magazine & Events. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.