Whenever I hear about a company thatâ€™s choosing to build their own employee volunteer and giving platform from scratch, I shudder. Â I can see the horrors that will unfold before them as clearly as if Iâ€™m watching a bad movie.
As the CEO of a company that has created an off-the-shelf volunteer and giving platform (one which is customizable but universal), I know full well the blood, sweat and tears that goes into developing a corporate philanthropy tool thatâ€™s feature-rich and bug-free. Â Software developers who promise you a customized moon are either intentionally or unwittingly luring you into dangerous waters without a paddle.
Custom software has a time and place, but using it to construct your own employee volunteer and giving platform from the ground up, a la an Amish barn-raising, is not that time or place.
- Custom software is far more expensive than off-the-shelf software. Â Far.
- Youâ€™ve got two choices: launch your platform many months or even year(s) from now, or rush it to market with more bugs than a tropical swamp.
- If you think less is more, youâ€™re in luck! Â Your platform will have half (or less) of the features that an off-the-shelf platform will bring.
- The times, they are a-changinâ€™, but I sure hope you donâ€™t want your platform to also. Â Ongoing custom development fees are pricey, so technology stagnation will most likely be your platformâ€™s lot in life.
- Alright, you found the budget for custom development fees to keep your technology current. Â Bravo! But, how do I say this gently…good luck keeping up with platforms like Causecastâ€™s, which releases updates every two weeks. Â Iâ€™m so sorry to burst your bubble, but by the time your locked-in software is launched, itâ€™s already outdated. Â Ouch.
- On a more positive note, who doesnâ€™t love a sale? Â Especially when the savings is millions. Â Off-the-shelf software is updated regularly, and whenever it is, every client benefits. Â But it gets better: because the benefits accumulate with every change made in the system, the benefits are multiplied by all of the companies on the platform, yielding millions of dollars worth of R&D to each client. Â For free.
- Time is not your friend. Â As the months and years pass, the developers who created your pricey custom platform will move on, and with their disappearance so, too, will the keys to unraveling your custom software. Â The turnover rate for developers is notoriously high; can you guarantee that your creaky old software will be easy to update – or even decipher – by strangers?
Running your volunteer and giving program in ways that generate employee engagement and community impact is challenging enough without adding technology underperformance, misfires and mysteries to the mix. Â Donâ€™t be the star of a bad movie; use a trusted, off-the-shelf volunteer and giving platform to manage your program, save your sanity and keep your job.