26 / 06 / 2023

Bespoke or Off-the-Shelf: How to choose the right platform for your self-service housing portal

When it comes to procuring a self-service tenant portal, there are a few options available. But which one is right for your housing association? Read on to find out.

When it comes to procuring a self-service tenant portal, you have the option of choosing a bespoke solution to meet your specific needs or a proprietary off-the-shelf package, which is usually paid for in a monthly subscription. But which one is right for your housing association? We’ve listed some of the most common reasons why housing associations choose tailored portal solutions to help you pick the right platform for your needs. 

A bespoke solution

Whilst this option will undoubtedly be the most costly, it’s worth noting that you’ll have an end product that’s completely tailored to your housing association’s specific wants and needs, saving you time and money in the long run. 

Positives of a bespoke solution:

  • The solution will be tailored to you and meet your specific requirements. Meaning you’ll have full control over how it looks and feels and its future roadmap.
  • As this specific solution is unique to you, it’s usually much easier in terms of growth and scalability as you won’t be limited by ‘out of the box’ or template solutions. 
  • The platform should be flexible to match your changing needs over time, whether that’s a complete brand redesign or just small functional tweaks.
  • You have total control over how you present your brand.
  • You can specify the build technology to make it easier to take the solution in-house later down the line, should you wish to.

Jacob Howell, Head of Sales here at Prodo, explains,  “With a bespoke solution, we will work together as a partnership on a continuous improvement programme of works and a roadmap which our client has full control over in terms of prioritisation. The client will also gain more control over hosting options and optional extra services like additional Vulnerability Scanning, Threat Monitoring, etc.”


Image source: Placeit

An off-the-shelf self-service solution

Off-the-shelf software is built to be repurposed time and again for multiple organisations. They can often be visually tailored to your brand, but all functionality will be standardised to all HAs that use it. Generally you purchase this software on a license basis direct from the vendor or a third party reseller.

Positives of a proprietary self-service solution

  • It may be cheaper to buy proprietary software than bespoke. You’ll be charged a set-up fee and an ongoing licensing fee based on number of users or the number of properties you manage, which may increase as you add more in future so be sure to factor this in.
  • Ongoing support available from the vendor: you should have access to their customer service department for troubleshooting and set-up, and there will likely be continued upgrades which you will hopefully be able to take advantage of (so long as the vendor is still investing effort into the platform). However, you will have little control over the future roadmap and development of features.

Next steps...

Your next steps are to build a clear, comprehensive brief for what you want from your portal and start looking at vendors for your project. But don’t forget that you might need stakeholder buy-in before proceeding so take a look at our guide on how to do this and arm yourself with the right tactics for that meeting. If you’re still unsure on what kind of portal you need or how to progress, check out our ultimate guide to planning a customer portal today and make sure you’ve got every aspect covered!


Top header image: Placeit

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