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Online Product Vendors Offer a Mixed Blessing

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Some online operations build their content management from scratch and others buy most of what they need. Some strike a balance between the two.

I have worked in operations with both extremes. They have left me convinced that striking a balance is the best way to go.

The online operation that built everything from scratch included an extensive content management system built by one person. He eventually left because of burnout.

The operation had excellent hosting, smart technical people and all of the basic technical necessities in outstanding shape.

But they couldn’t grow beyond a certain level of expertise. They couldn’t meet the high demands of the platforms, processes and applications they built. When they tried, quality declined quickly.

Too Many Vendors, Too Little Quality

The other extreme was an environment where executives bought almost everything from vendors. In this extreme, the online staff is left chasing after outside support staffs who had too many other customers to serve. Some of the products didn’t work well, either.

When a template was updated on the main site, it had to be updated on dozens of vendor-hosted applications.

Similar products couldn’t talk to each other because they were built by different companies. The end result was a maze of products too complicated to manage.

Finding the Middle Ground

Finding a middle ground might mean getting an open-source content management system, applications and other technology. Then it takes developing them further in-house and going outside only for higher-end needs.

Go to a vendor for an application that might have a short shelf life or one that is a good fit with existing in-house applications. In other words, build the basics and pursue vendors with a good integration plan in place.

Good products can be difficult to find or build. Good vendors can be even harder. Choose them carefully and avoid making it a habit to turn to them for everything — or nothing at all.

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