3 Reasons to Rethink that Homegrown System

What does your software landscape look like? Are there paths going all over the place? Or a tree with many entwined branches?

The question becomes how to simplify and unravel the knotted mess. With multiple systems being used for one department, a homegrown system might seem like the way to go. And it is easy to understand why.

Path in woods

It probably started after a need was identified on the campus and the search began for a system to help. Then either the search committee did not like the price of an off-the-shelf system or the changes to operational practices were more than the University wanted to take on at the time.

Creating a system in-house seems like a much better use of resources, especially when the programmers are on staff. 

And who wouldn’t want to go that way? Complete control over the growth or workings of a computer system. The system will do what the department wants. Making adjustments as business practices change is relatively painless. With programmers on staff and/or a local consultant to help, interfaces with other campus systems could easily be created.

The level of customization of the homegrown program can get bigger and bigger.

However, what happens when looking at a homegrown system in the larger picture and long term? It might not be as wonderful as first thought. Here are three reasons NOT to build a homegrown system.

We have the staff who can do this.

Yes, you have the staff today, but what about tomorrow? Pencil with paperNext year? In 5 years? What demands are currently on the IT department?

Homegrown systems may seem great to begin with; you can set up a system to be what you want, integrate with what you want, and make changes when you want.

All works well… until it doesn’t. Staff change positions, retire, take new jobs. Other systems change and those vendors no longer talk with your homegrown program’s operating system. Then what? Just because you have someone who can, doesn’t mean you should.

Our conference services department is very unique.

Yes, you are. We hear this a lot and agree with each campus that tells us this.

Conference and event management involves many moving pieces. When determining what you can include in a homegrown program for conference management, ask if the system can handle the tiniest detail of an event while also booking conference space, catering needs, and overnight accommodations.

How much time would it take to build a system like this from the ground up? Why not look for a company who has already done the leg work?

We have too many other systems with which we need to interface.

This is indeed a complicated part of bringing in a new software system and a valid concern.

Conference services on your campus is just one of many departments. With the push to do more with less, having systems that sync and take away the manual entry helps to improve accountability, efficiency, and accuracy.

The good news is that there are conference management software systems out there built to handle multiple interfaces such as finance, room keys, meal cards, and classroom scheduling.

Regardless of where you are in the process of assessing technology on your campus, there are many reason to carefully evaluate and research established conference management software vendors.

Conference services is increasingly becoming a higher revenue generator on campuses. The possibility of putting business at risk due to an outdated or incomplete homegrown system is not something campuses should be willing to chance.

Laura Lafferty

Written by Laura Lafferty

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