Whenever I hear about a company that’s choosing to build their own employee volunteer and giving platform from scratch, I shudder. I can see the horrors that will unfold before them as clearly as if I’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 that’s feature-rich and bug-free. 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. Far.
You’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, you’re in luck! Your platform will have half (or less) of the features that an off-the-shelf platform will bring.
The times, they are a-changin’, but I sure hope you don’t want your platform to also. Ongoing custom development fees are pricey, so technology stagnation will most likely be your platform’s lot in life.
Alright, you found the budget for custom development fees to keep your technology current. Bravo! But, how do I say this gently…good luck keeping up with platforms like Causecast’s, which releases updates every two weeks. I’m so sorry to burst your bubble, but by the time your locked-in software is launched, it’s already outdated. Ouch.
On a more positive note, who doesn’t love a sale? Especially when the savings is millions. Off-the-shelf software is updated regularly, and whenever it is, every client benefits. 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. For free.
Time is not your friend. 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. 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. Don’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.