To Build vs. Buy a Credentialing Solution for Compliance Management?

Understanding Credentialing Software

When researching a new certification platform, your first instinct might be to build a custom certification management solution from scratch. You might think all off-the-shelf products are the same and cannot address your complex needs. Or you might worry about loss of control and high dependence on vendors. These might be valid concerns for a select few. But for most organizations, the custom approach leads to runaway costs, outdated solutions and high dependence on critical employees and custom development partners.

So what should you consider when exploring a new certification platform? These eight questions may help.

Business Fit

Can an off-the-shelf product manage the complexities of your professional credentialing and compliance programs?

You might think your credentialing and compliance workflows are too unique and complex for an off-the-shelf product. This is true for many software as a service (SaaS) vendors. Their rigid platforms do not provide the flexibility you need to run your credentialing and compliance operations the way you want. But not all SaaS solutions are created equal.

There is a new generation of instantly configurable SaaS credentialing and compliance management solutions. These products let you automate complex workflows in hours and change them in minutes, all without programming. They distill workflows into small, reusable building blocks you can arrange in any combination to automate even your most complex processes.

But be careful when a SaaS vendor tells you their product is configurable. Often, their version of configurability requires you to pay steep custom development and implementation fees to achieve your desired functionality.

So how can you tell if a SaaS platform is truly configurable? Simple. Challenge the vendor to demonstrate that they can automate your most complex business processes and worlflows without custom programming. If they are up to the task, you can avoid the custom software business and focus on what you do best.


Do you want to be in the software business?

You’re an expert in managing professional credentialing and compliance programs. SaaS companies are experts in software development, testing, deployment, documentation, training, support and systems integration. Building a custom system will take time and resources away from your core business. Worse, it can create spiraling costs with diminishing business returns.

Do you want to spend 20-40% of your operating budget on maintaining a custom system? You can cut that cost to 10% or less with a configurable SaaS system. And better yet, you can free up more resources to manage your business operations.

Certemy helped us intake an entire field of counselors in a very short period and allowed us to achieve a goal that would have otherwise been unachievable. The software has already paid for itself, and we plan to move the rest of our certifications to Certemy very soon. 

Keeping Up

How will you manage change?

With custom solutions, system changes quickly become expensive and time-consuming. Simple updates can cost thousands of dollars and take months to implement. And yet your business needs will evolve and you want to stay nimble. Configurable SaaS solutions let you implement smaller business changes, such as a modified application fee, in minutes. More significant changes, such as a new credential, take hours or days. Neither require IT skills or custom programming. But remember, not all SaaS vendors provide this flexibility out of the box. Be sure to ask about the time and cost of implementing change.

Product Knowledge & Support

Can you afford to put all your eggs in one basket?

Custom solutions can suffer from single points of failure. A deep understanding of the system usually resides in the heads of one or two key employees. This combination creates the classic “Bob gets hit by a bus” problem. Product knowledge gaps arise when these employees leave or retire.

When issues arise, the business grinds to a halt because critical employees are unavailable to help. The problems compound when systems are poorly documented — often the case with custom solutions.

SaaS products include robust documentation, training and support as part of the service, eliminating single points of failure. SaaS vendors also support their products with teams of product experts who are familiar with every aspect of the SaaS platform.

Security & Compliance

Can your organization afford the risks?

When you build a custom system, you take responsibility for data security and regulatory compliance. Regulations include the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and many more. Addressing each requirement can cost tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, but you cannot ignore them. The financial and reputation losses in case of security and data breaches can be catastrophic.

SaaS vendors absorb the risk of security and regulatory compliance for you. They provide the highest level of data security and compliance available for meeting industry and government standards. They do so by partnering with top industry experts. Can you afford to deploy expensive resources to ensure that your custom solution remains secure and compliant amidst ever-changing risks and regulations?

Integration Versus Isolation

Why build an ecosystem from scratch?

Professional credentials gain additional value when they are part of an ecosystem. Your organization will benefit from integrations with testing companies, education providers, professional associations, employers and other regulatory bodies. Do you want to build and maintain each of these integrations yourself? Do you want to rebuild those integrations when technologies change?

Some SaaS solution vendors have already created the integrations you need or can develop and maintain them for you. The most innovative vendors are integrating entire ecosystems. Choosing one of these vendors instantly connects you to their expanding network of connected business partners. This provides you with a vibrant ecosystem in which your organization is more likely to thrive and grow.

Technology Obsolescence

How will you stay current with new technologies?

Just like a new car driving off a dealership lot, there’s a high chance your custom solution will be outdated the day you go live. For users, they become cumbersome and restrictive. From a security and customer satisfaction perspective, they become a liability.

SaaS vendors work for thousands of paying customers, not one. They can and must keep pace with new technologies and design trends. They continuously develop new features for other customers in your industry with similar needs. You get these new features at no cost, generally every two weeks.

Here again, not all SaaS companies are created equal. When you compare vendors, take a look at their website and platform. If they remind you of that old cellphone that you used five years ago, you might want to look elsewhere.

One-Platform for Compliance (Staff, Equipment & Facilities)

To build or buy a professional credentialing and compliance management system is a big decision. Until recently, the answer was easy. No off-the-shelf solution provided the level of configurability you needed to automate your complex business processes and workflows.


That has changed. You now have the option to avoid (or exit) the custom software development business by partnering with a configurable SaaS solution vendor. You’ll get a richer, more secure, and more reliable system that you can implement in weeks and change in minutes. You’ll also reduce your IT costs by avoiding the considerable costs of development, testing, deployment, maintenance, training, support, data security, systems integration, technology obsolescence and regulatory compliance. Best of all, you’ll be free to invest the majority of your time, money and resources into fulfilling your core business strategies.

As always, make sure the vendors you talk to can deliver on the value and promise of the SaaS model. Check that you’re not paying implementation and change fees. Challenge them to automate your most complex business processes without programming.

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