Tailored or off-the-shelf – which is best?

After more positive conversations and leads at the recent English UK conference in London, we've been looking at yet more refinements to our Resirva online booking platform, as outlined by our Development Director, Richard Greenhalgh. 


Over the last year we’ve gradually rolled out Resirva, our online enrolment system for language schools and summer schools, and have been very pleased with the reception it’s receiving. Each conference we attend shows more interest and generates more enquiries than before and, with each enquiry, we realise that we’ve created a concept which is in constant refinement. It begs the question as to whether an off-the-shelf solution is better than a completely bespoke, tailored system and this is something that’s been exercising our minds recently as we look to take other solutions, such as eTicketing and eLearning, to market.


The first versions of Resirva we created were tailored very much to the particular schools with which we worked. It was only when we had developed a critical mass of school clients that we realised that it could benefit future clients if we packaged and promoted the core functionality as an ‘off-the-shelf’ solution. So that’s what we did, and Resirva was born.


Every time we speak with a new school that’s interested in using Resirva, though, we find that the core functionality addresses probably 80-90% of the school’s needs but still leaves some areas unaddressed. This shouldn’t be surprising given that every language and summer school will have its own courses, classes, timescales and charging structures. So, the plan had been to promote Resirva as an off-the-shelf product, but even the best-laid plans sometimes need to be adapted. We thought long and hard about what to do. Other providers offer very much a ‘take it or leave it’ product – that’s what you get and we’re not changing it. As we roll out Resirva we’ve found that this approach doesn’t meet with what schools need, and this lies at the very heart of how we work at Redwing. We don’t just have a team of great developers, designers and project managers, we have an outstanding bunch of problem solvers who take pride in clients presenting them with a tough challenge and then coming up with the best possible solution to meet their needs.


The core Resirva solution manages and automates the vast majority of schools' enrolment needs, from applications to approvals, payments, class lists, photo IDs, agents’ needs, accommodation, visa and border controls and much more. It’s easily possible for a school’s administrator to manage an entire, end-to-end booking with a single mouse click. But every version of Resirva we build is unique because every summer and language school is unique. For example, we recently tweaked a new client’s version of Resirva to enable students to choose which specific days of a course they could attend, rather than fitting in with the block booking. And for another we added the ability to mix classes of full-time and part-time students. It’s not easy, but if it were there would be lots of other solutions like Resirva out there.


Delivering a tailored solution is a large part of what makes Redwing different. We were very pleased recently to win a large competitive pitch for a complex eLearning solution, especially so when we discovered we were up against very well-established specialists in the sector, all much larger organisations than Redwing. When we were told the good news, the client made a point of saying that a major contributory factor to the win was because our solution was tailored to their specific needs. Others pitching for the work had excellent solutions but which were largely off-the-shelf and inflexible for what was required. And whilst one major argument in favour of off-the-shelf solutions is that they tend to be more cost-effective, we know that some of our clients have benefited from savings of up to 50% of their administrative costs once Resirva is in place. If you look at it from a ‘return on investment’ decision rather than a pure cost decision, Resirva generates positive cost savings in the short term as well as increasing conversion and revenue. 


We’ll stick to what we do best by continuing to pursue quality rather than ‘convenient’ solutions which don’t work properly. If you have an online problem that’s giving you a headache, please let us know, we do love a challenge!

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