22nd August 2023

Building with Twilio: Deciding to go in-house or with a Twilio partner

An introduction to Twilio

Have you ever interacted with a brand either through email, SMS, WhatsApp, or by phone? There’s a good chance Twilio powered that engagement.

Twilio is a cloud communications platform that enables companies to build, scale, and operate any communications experience using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Today, it is used by over 10 million developers worldwide to build customer engagement applications that power over 290,000 companies across 180+ countries.

Twilio has always been developer-first and prides itself on transparent pricing but what truly sets it apart is its ability to open up flexible communication solutions for businesses of all shapes and sizes.

Twilio key features

Twilio’s mission is to “unlock the imagination of builders”, enabling organisations to imagine and then build outstanding customer experiences.

Key features include:

  • Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities - Twilio is at the forefront of AI, adding integrations with Twilio Segment and Twilio Flex to enhance customer experiences.

  • Extensive API set - The platform makes it easy to roll-out personalised communication channels.

  • Developer-first - Twilio is famous for having an excellent developer experience.

  • Global reach - Powering 13.9T+ customer engagement API calls per year across a global cloud infrastructure.

  • Intelligent engagement - Making tailored engagement experiences possible at scale.

  • Flexible pricing - With monthly recurring charges (MRCs) and pay-as-you-go usage charges.

  • Supports a broad range of programming languages - Namely PHP, Python, Ruby, .NET, Java, Apex, and C#.

The business benefits of Twilio Flex

Twilio Flex is a 100 percent cloud contact centre solution that enables customers to easily add remote agents, new channels, chatbots, Interactive Voice Responses (IVRs) and integrations without the limitations of traditional Software as a Service (SaaS) products.

Key features include:

  • Programmability - Adding custom channels, managing, routing and reporting is made easy.

  • Customisation - Users can configure the look and feel and amend the User Experience (UI) with custom widgets.

  • Integrated data - Organisations can integrate from customer sources to provide agents with contextual intelligence.

  • Drag-and drop - Flow programmatically can be controlled with the Studio drag-and-drop interface.

  • Custom logic - Logic can be defined to trigger conditionally before or after an agent handles a task.

Using a tech partner or going it alone

In house 3

The challenges and advantages of in-house development

Twilio was created “by developers, for developers.” It makes it easy for developers to build programmatic communication features, such as sending and receiving phone calls, text messages, and IMs, through APIs.

Over the years, a shift to a focus on enterprise readiness has seen the launch of products such as Flex (cloud contact centre) and Segment (customer data platform), which come with full graphical user interfaces. The intention being to provide more tools out-of-the-box along with an easy-to-use API interface for customising services.

For organisations that have in-house development expertise with plenty of availability, long lead times and a desire to master Twilio, there is no reason they can’t ‘go it alone’.


  • Making use of existing in-house developer resource
  • Greater control within one team
  • Direct communication via internal channels


  • Prioritising in-house resource on learning and implementing Twilio
  • Longer lead times to get up to speed
  • Risk of poor implementation and limited use of functionality

The challenges and advantages of working with a technology partner

The Twilio Partner Program is designed to connect organisations with the teams that live and breathe Twilio. The idea being that partners have the necessary resources to build what organisations need, fast. They can also give guidance, and insight into Twilio’s product roadmap, helping them stay at the forefront.

There are Gold, Silver and Bronze tier partners. Classifications are based on the scale of the partner organisation and their proficiency building with Twilio.

In the majority of cases, organisations choose to work with partners when they do not have the required in-house resources, they want to implement best practice, or they want to accelerate their Twilio implementations.


  • Speed
  • Ease
  • Best practice


  • Potential communication issues
  • Poor team fit
  • Loss of control

Common issues when Twilio is implemented in-house

Twilio is highly customisable. This is what sets Twilio apart from many competitors, but this can also cause issues for teams that lack experience with the platform. Here’s some issues we commonly see:

  • Out-of-the-box expectations - People expect base-line features to be available out-of-the-box. Whereas Twilio makes building features simple, it does require the building of almost all features. Rather than reinventing the wheel, organisations turn to partners to quickly roll out common features, so that they can move onto the functionality that offers competitive advantage.

  • Second go-around - Organisations begin building with Twilio, find that they could do with some extra support and then enlist the help of a partner to ensure best practice.

  • Speed - Twilio is extremely developer friendly but there is still a learning curve. Sometimes in-house development moves slower than expected and can swallow up all the in-house developers’ time.

Zing’s build process

The breadth of the Twilio stack and the nature of the challenges mean that we offer a range of engagement models, including:

  • Short, sharp projects (such as adding new channels to existing set-ups).

  • Large Flex implementations.

  • Ongoing; acting as your development team.

Our established build process has been developed to remove the risk of working with a partner organisation and is structured as follows:

  • The Discover phase - ensuring a clear understanding of client goals before we start.

  • The Build phase - an iterative approach to development, focused on delivering the highest priority items first.

  • Deployment - Resolving any outstanding issues and helping clients hit the ground running with Twilio.

  • Support - Ongoing access to our online portal. Zing Care Plus plans can be extended for as long as clients need us.

Goals and objectives

Regardless of the approach, it's important to define goals and objectives at the outset. Doing so informs the delivery method and helps make the choice of whether to build in-house or with the support of a partner, an easier one.

Whether you're new to Twilio or re-implementing, we're here to help. Find out more about how Zing can help to grow your business.

The complete guide to working with a Twilio build partner

We know that choosing to go in-house or with a partner is not an easy decision to make. And if you do choose to go with a partner, the search does not end there, you then need to find the right partner for your business.

That's why we've put together this eBook: 'The complete guide to working with a Twilio partner' to help you in your search. Understand the different types of Twilio partners, what bronze, silver and gold partners are, how Twilio Flex comes out of the box and much more.

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