Earlier in the month my website business received a briefing to create a relatively complex website platform that could both comprehensively manage memberships and provide standard website functionality like a content management system (CMS), e-commerce, email marketing and so on.
Because we are ‘agnostic’ around platform, we always look at what is available on the market ‘off the rack’ before we turn to costing relatively expensive bespoke web development.
This approach alone is likely to save our clients a significant sum of money. One quote we did in this way for a client recently came in with an establishment cost of under $10,000, while a competitive ‘developed’ solution came in at a whopping $120,000.
And that doesn’t include the significant saving on maintenance, upgrades and improvements.
But there’s a third option that we also explore to save our clients even more money and inconvenience.
That option is ‘mixing and matching’ two otherwise disparate platforms.
Mix, match and save
This approach entails identifying two platforms likely to be from two separate providers but which together, satisfy all of your functionality requirements.
This option occurs when a single platform won’t satisfy the requirements briefing on a number of measures alone.
And this is where a second platform comes in.
In this case, while there were integrated platforms that could manage membership and its associated website and other communications requirements, they didn’t come particularly cheaply and would have come in outside budget.
However, once we separated the two requirements — membership and online communications — we found that two separate platforms would easily meet the brief and importantly, achieve it well under budget.
Integration still critical
Any budget left over could then be spent on integrating the two platforms (by way of Application Programming Interfaces or ‘API’s) so that all processes were seamless and automated, saving the client a packet on manual processing of pretty much any kind.
At the same time, they would receive the significant benefit of all good proprietary platforms — improvements, upgrades and new features and functionality were all provided at no or little further charge.
Don’t get me wrong, bespoke ‘development’ is always the best option when you are wanting a unique or ‘operations-level’ solution. But in reality, only those whose websites are their core business or channel to market really need this level of development — or those that can afford their expensive development.
Specialist versus generalist requirements
The trick to the “mix and match” approach is simply to identify which parts of your requirements are difficult or expensive to achieve in the one platform.
Usually this is a core functionality that is outside of the standard integrated CMS, customer relationship management (CRM), e-commerce and email marketing systems that are relatively affordable and common these days.
Once you do this, it’s likely that a third party specialist platform will ‘fill the gap’ between the ‘generalist’ platform and your more specific requirements.
In addition to membership, examples of this kind of speciality includes event management, loyalty programs, learning management, complex e-commerce offerings and many others.
Does your business have this kind of mixed functionality requirement? And could it save by mixing and matching platforms in this way?