NFP Software Options: Buy vs Build vs Platform
By: Ian Jenkins, Managing Director, Enrite Solutions
Traditionally, organizations had two paths to deploying new software applications:
- Buy a software package that hopefully meets most of your requirements.
- Build software from scratch (relying on IT staff to ‘hand code’ everything).
Buying a Software package sounds simple, but there are perils to be faced:
- It can be a long process to find a Commercial Software Package that meets your needs. A lot of analysis needs to undertaken. Sometimes we get it wrong and choose the wrong solution or the wrong vendor. If we get it wrong it can cost time and effort to do it all again.
- Software packages typically have limited flexibility in meeting your unique business needs, and very few software packages can be easily adapted to meet your forever changing business needs. If they can be adapted it’s often at a huge cost.
- We end up buying lots of different software packages to meet different needs, and end up with many separate applications and separate silos of data, that can’t be easily integrated.
We have to replace our systems within a few years as they no longer meet our requirements, or the underlying technology can’t be upgraded (i.e. won’t support mobile platforms such as Android of IOS).
- We experience vendor lock in. We are often stuck with poor support.
The IT industry is littered with these types of projects. They are expensive, time consuming and very risky. We rely on a bunch of IT geeks hand coding every piece of functionality from scratch. We often don’t get what we wanted, let alone what we needed, and it’s difficult to get the software changed to suit our needs. When we hand craft software, there can be lots of bugs, and the user testing process can drive everyone insane.
So, lets stop doing either as there is an alternative!
Use a Configurable Platform like Salesforce
The Salesforce Platform provides that ‘sweet spot’ between Building and Buying Software. Salesforce is unique in that the majority of functionality can be deployed without the need to write code. Yes that’s right – no code!
- The Salesforce platform allows custom software to be developed using a series of drag-and-drop facilities, and ‘wizards’ to develop:
Custom database tables.
- Customized workflows, triggers and validations to support your unique business rules,
Menus, and customized page-layouts and navigation paths.
- Research has shown that a fully customized solution can be deployed 5 times faster using Salesforce compared to traditional software development technologies.
- In my 5 years of experience in developing complex Salesforce Apps for Non-Profit organizations, I found that 70%-80% of functionality can be deployed using ‘clicks’ rather than code.
If we can use configuration tools, instead of code, we can achieve:
- Faster more agile software deployment (cheaper more agile solution).
- Faster prototyping, so users gain a faster appreciation of how the final App will look (happier users).
- A solution with less custom code requiring less testing (less bugs means less frustration, better quality software and faster deployment).
- A solution that can be easily adapted to meet ever changing needs (a solution that can always support the business).
- Less reliance on software vendors (any qualified Salesforce developer can support you).
- Salesforce can provide a single flexible platform that can support all your critical business needs, so no more silos of data, and less integration headaches.S
- Salesforce apps can be made instantly mobile and data can be easily shared with your Customers and Business Partners via Salesforce Community Portals. Salesforce is upgraded 3 times a year so your base technology always remains ‘state of the art’.
About Ian Jenkins
Ian Jenkins is Managing Director of Enrite Solutions. Ian was responsible for the development of the largest most complex Salesforce implementation in an Australian Government Agency, providing 1,700 users access to 20 applications, using 250 custom data objects, across 5 separate instances of Salesforce.
Enrite Solutions provides Disability Care Software to non-for-profit organisations across Australia.
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