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Building Your Own Social Software Can Be Very Expensive [STORY]

Developing Social Software Sites & Portals – From Concept To Launch At Light-speed (NOT!)

Several months ago, I had a phone conversation with an entrepreneur who was in the process of developing a portal specifically targeted at providing help and resources for women professionals who have just had a first child and trying to balance work and life.

In terms of what the portal would need, everything was clear.

From the technical side of things, the plan was to build a Web 2.0 community portal with social networking style usability as well as features like blogs, file sharing, instant messaging, and forums -- which are all central to building a web portal of this type.

It was decided that the site would be developed from scratch so that it could be built exactly as envisioned.

A small team of developers were contracted and the work began.  

And just recently, I had a chance to catch up with her to see how things had progressed with the portal.  

It turns out, the development process was still underway and there were at least several more months before even a beta launch could be done.

Building Your Own Social Software Can Be Very Expensive

Whether it’s an entrepreneur looking to build a new Web 2.0 portal, a business looking to launch a community, or an enterprise creating a collaboration portal, time to market is a key consideration — there are plenty of advantages in being able to get your projects online and launched as quickly as possible.  

Getting projects online quicker, by building your social network on top of an existing social software or community platform, doesn’t necessarily translate into compromising on quality and your exact vision of how the site should turn out.

A good social software platform will let you customize and incorporate all the features you need, and yet, give you the ability to greatly reduce the time to market.

The architecture for social networking software is not always as simple as it may seem, and building a social site from the ground up can be quite challenging, even for the most experienced development team.

It’s easy to overlook many development obstacles, testing time, and bugs, which is why development times for such sites often overshoot their expected time line by several weeks and many times even months. 

While building from scratch can give you exactly what you envisioned, the time, as well as the total cost of ownership in developing from scratch could end up being considerably higher than budgeted — which is an extremely important factor while deciding between building on an existing community / social platform or developing your own platform.

In today’s context, when so many business software initiatives rely on Web 2.0 and social software components that allow for communication and collaboration, it could make good business sense buying or investing in a strong platform that provides the base features to get your projects from concept to launch in the shortest possible time.

Tim Eisenhauer
Written by Tim Eisenhauer

Tim is president and co-founder of Axero Solutions, a leading intranet software vendor. He's also a bestselling author of Who the Hell Wants to Work for You? Mastering Employee Engagement. Tim’s been featured in Fortune, Forbes, TIME, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur, CNBC, Today, and other leading publications.

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