Most of your business processes likely rely on software. In fact, I challenge you to find a single department in your business that doesn’t use at least one type of software.
Moreover, constantly improving your business means constantly refining your technology stack. What happens when you identify an opportunity to streamline or improve a certain process? You have to determine whether you can do it within your existing systems or if you need a new platform, and, if so, what kind of software is your best fit.
Once you identify an opportunity and are sure software can play a role in your solution, you have even more decisions to make.
Should I Build Custom Software or Buy an Off-the-Shelf Solution?
Both options have their merits and limitations. An off-the-shelf SaaS solution is ready to use now. Plus, the initial investment is often more affordable, since you’re licensing an existing platform from its developers.
On the other hand, a software solution that’s not created specifically for your business needs will very likely never be 100% compatible with those needs. Custom software offers you advantages your competitors don’t have access to. However, it takes time and a significantly larger initial investment to get it up and running.
While the investment generally pays for itself in the long run, the choice remains a complicated one. But what if you could have the best of both worlds—if buy vs. build is a false dichotomy?
The Middle-Ground Solution: Custom Portals
Let’s say your business uses several SaaS solutions that do their respective jobs honorably. They may be all-in-one systems or several best-in-class solutions. Since your staff is already accustomed to them, it would be an operational hurdle to make a complete switch. Still, you need more out of your solutions: more insights, combined reporting, a bird’s-eye-view, and so on.
Meet custom portals, the unifying solution that brings together everything you need.
Custom portals are a way to bring your data and processes together, under a single digital roof, but without building everything from scratch.
Let’s take a quick look at how they work and why they make great solutions for your businesses.
How Do Custom Portals Work?
Custom portals use software integrations and custom functionality to eliminate data silos. They pull together data from your existing software solutions and package it in a single place.
This means that your team can complete tasks in a system you control and have access to various data sources without switching between apps or solutions.
For instance, if you use an ERP solution to manage your finances, a CRM for marketing and sales campaigns, and an email marketing automation SaaS, you have access to tons of customer data that could fuel hyper-targeted campaigns and insights.
“Could” is key here.
If your data is siloed, each of your departments (accounting, marketing, sales) only has access to bits and pieces of it. It’s like working with a hand tied behind your back.
A custom portal can bring all this data together and offer you at-a-glance inter-departmental reports. For example, your marketing staff can see ERP, CRM, and email insights in a single dashboard. This way, they effortlessly see which of your customers pays the biggest invoices (from your ERP), how often they interact with your company (from your CRM), and which of your emails they open most frequently.
With a purposefully built custom portal, it can take just a few clicks to build a custom campaign for your most loyal customers and send it on its merry way from the same dashboard you used to get all those insights. Similarly, your sales department could see which subscribers opened your last newsletter and what they clicked on. Armed with these insights, they can pick up the phone and call the leads with the highest likelihood of turning into paying customers.
These are just a few examples. Since custom portals are exactly that—custom—the sky's the limit. You can build any type of integration and functionality into your portal and continue developing it as you identify new opportunities to improve your business processes.
Advantages of Custom Portals
Since you don’t have to build every single feature (email capabilities, CRM functionality, a brand new ERP) from scratch, custom portals come with a significantly friendlier price tag than reinventing the wheel. Plus, since you already have the other systems in place, you can go about your business as usual until the development is completed.
This takes us to the next point: custom portals usually take far less time to build. Depending on the features you need, you could be up and running in several weeks instead of several months.
Last but not least, there’s application security. Through a secure software development process, you can have granular control over access to data and features within your custom portal to help keep your data and that of your customers secure.
All in all, custom portals offer flexibility that’s usually not possible with out-of-the-box solutions. But since portals tap into what’s already built, you save on development effort. In other words, you save both time and money.
If your data is siloed and you want to improve processes by bringing your systems together under one digital roof, reach out.