Alumni Platform: Build vs Buy

by Community Admin in Corporate Alumni   |    Last Edited: 08th August 2019

You’ve passed the point of debating whether you should launch an alumni platform. The answer is yes and the sole debate remaining is when … not if.

Occasionally, this is followed by a discussion around whether to buy an intelligent platform or whether to build a website and the reality is the market has already answered this question.

The pace of technology innovation is accelerating at an almost exponential rate, making it difficult for the average internal IT groups to cope with this pace of change. The struggle commonly lies in the fact that companies who choose to build not only have to create the software internally – they must also maintain and upgrade it indefinitely.

The debate is simple. Perhaps the internal team can create your perfect v1 of an Alumni Website, but as your program matures, your needs expand and the demands of your members increase, you need an application, not a website.

However, removing cost or support from the conversation the primary reason to choose platform is due to the community of customers, and the size of the Alumni populations, which can provide ideation, innovation and opportunity in aggregate that as a sole organization you cannot harness with a “build” website.

Six reasons to buy a platform:

  • Expertise: If you want to build an intelligent and engaged community, you need to take advice and insights from people who know the space. People who know what works and what does not – from experience.
  • Speed of Innovation: Buying from experts means you benefit from their technical expertise, practical insights, and product roadmap. If you build a website yourself, it may work well at launch but very quickly, that product will quickly date. EnterpriseAlumni is focused on continually enhancing its platform and tools to stay ahead of our customers’ needs.
  • Community Value: Building an alumni community involves consistent learning, exploring and ideation. Becoming part of the EnterpriseAlumni community opens the doors to our customer community; a treasure chest of some of the world’s largest companies operating in most verticals and geographies. Learn from peers, share ideas and create connections and community with alumni leaders in the world of business and education. And importantly, your alumni will benefit from this too.
  • Benchmark data: Want to know what success means when building out an alumni community? Keen to understand typical metrics around engagement, what the best time to send out an event invite is, whether and how your boomerang hire program is working and whether there are different styles of communication that work in different geographies? You need benchmark data that is only available when you purchase a platform offering these insights.
  • Contextual Experience: Logging into a website for some basic directory services and generic news is not an engaging experience. Your alumni will be used to receiving content that is relevant and personalized. Consumer brands market to your alumni knowing who they are, what they want and what they are interested in. This targeted personal marketing is what your alumni expect in a platform vs a one-dimensional website offering a ‘one size fits all’ experience that doesn’t encourage your alumni to return.
  • Silo Practices: agile thinking and creativity are not the outputs of operating in a silo. A reluctance to take advantage of industry best practices and the best innovations in the market is often an attitude seen as reducing an organization’s efficiency.
  • Budget: Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking its cheaper to build vs buy! It is likely more expensive to build something than to take advantage of a SaaS platform. Engineers, designers, branding, support, infrastructure, and so forth add up to significantly more than the cost of a platform.

The rule of thumb in choosing “buy vs build” always comes down to: Is great software available? If so, why would a company choose to recreate the wheel?

Managing, leveraging, engaging and innovating around alumni is not your core business. You do not spend all day and night obsessing about the product … but we do. We’d love to show it to you and continue the conversation.