The risk of not going custom

At least half the time when we visit associations, they tell us a story about the off-the-shelf software they’re using. A story we’ve heard many times before. They were promised features and benefits their association needed, and it all looked good upfront. Then 6 months, 1 year, or 2 years down the track, gaps and limitations started to show. Since then they’ve had to add workarounds or extra software, copy data from place to place, and pay for more support and development.

In some cases the product never delivered what it promised. But it’s very hard to gauge that upfront from a demonstration.

As a result, the technology which was supposed to help their association is now hindering growth, forcing disconnected silos of information, and creating a bad impression for new members.

Are you a follower or a leader?

Off the shelf products appeal because they solve common problems and offer readymade workflows. Over time certain products become accepted as the norm within industries and are perceived as low-risk options because others use them and the upfront cost is low for the features they offer. But the long-term price can be high.

Building your own custom website or software system is to go against the grain.

Instead of picking something popular and off the shelf, you’re going to embark on designing and developing something tailored specifically for your association. Are you

crazy? Why “re-invent the wheel”? If big name software X is good enough for everyone else, why isn’t it good enough for you?

The reality is solutions which are good enough for everyone will rarely be able to unlock your association’s full potential.

Every association has unique requirements. The more unique and innovative your association is, the more compromises you’ll need to make with an off-the-shelf product.

Technology changes more rapidly than ever but off-the-shelf products are slow to react because they have an entire user base to accommodate, and a huge legacy of code to maintain. They get stale and feel clunky to use.

For the product owners, the idea of fully redeveloping their product from scratch is a huge undertaking, so they continue on with the same core, a new lick of paint, and a few more features.
After all, features sell.

Reach your full potential

From what we’ve seen, it’s common that an off-the-shelf product will do roughly 80% of you what you need on paper. Not a bad percentage. The problem with that is, when technology is core to how you run your association, the other 20% can be where the real gold is.

That 20% can be the difference between:

  • A positive customer experience vs a frustrating one
  • A truly streamlined processes vs needing extra staff for manual work
  • Owning the future path of your technology vs being along for the ride
  • Innovative experience vs offering the same as everyone else

Risk Mitigation

Those who develop their own solutions might be considered risk takers. We see it as risk mitigation. It’s looking ahead and realising that technology is no longer just another tool, it is how you run your association and how you interact with members.

So investing in the right technology is crucial to whether you get ahead or get left with the herd. It’s important to note though that custom development is only as good as those implementing it. Through careful design, prototyping and a staged approach, you can eliminate many unknown dangers from custom development and use technology to its full potential.

Partner with a team that cares about your outcomes, not selling a product.

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