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Should we build an in house reuse system or get an off the shelf solution?

Trouble Shooting, Reuse program: Planning stage

We assume you are here because you want to get reuse embedded into your organisation.

We also assume you have tried "word of mouth" reuse and realised you did not get the scale you needed.
We also assume you tried to carry out reuse using emails,  but realised that is was way too messy, too hard to track and took too much manual input for all parties.
So you are thinking about developing a software system to track all the trades so that reuse becomes almost automatic?
Great!! You are in the right place!

How do i set up a furniture reuse network to redistribute surplus assets?
You can do it alone... or you can get an off the shelf product. Here we weigh up the pros and cons.
A couple of times in the last few months I have been told that "We do not want to purchase your system because we are developing our own system in house".
My initial reaction:

"Argh!! You are going to make all the mistakes we did 10 years ago."

But then i calm down and think
"At least they are doing something. We will help them where we can"
In this article we weigh up the pros and cons of developing  your own in house software to manage surplus asset reuse.  Now obviously this is hard for us to do objectively as we have vested interests! But we will try to be objective. Please comment if we need to add anything in. 

Benefits of building your own in house reuse system
1) You can build in house software to your exact requirements. As long as your IT team follow the specification. 
2) Your in house software will run on your system without the need for extra security allowances.
3) Your in house system will probably be "free". That is there won't be any initial sign up fee which comes from someone's budget. 
But this requires an IT department who is not already stretched. An IT department who can devote time to building a solution which matches the needs of staff. Purchasing staff. Logisitics staff. The store manager. The space manager. The buildng clearance project managers etc.
Benefits of using a tried an tested reuse software product
We focus on making reuse as easy as buying new. This guides our design of the product. We have 2 full time developers working on the system at all times which means we are constantly making it as easy as possible to use and thus maximise participation. Ease of use is the number one reason why a system will succeed or fail.
You will be getting a product  which has been built over the last 5 years for the needs of your sector, the product is good (ask our customers) AND  improving all of the time to match the needs of these institutions.
We update the system every month with new improvements. These updates are free and will be much quicker and varied than any built by your IT. 
On our system you access a much a wider disposal/ procurement network- we have 100s of institutions like yours eager to share resources. We have 1000s of charities and schools ready to take your surplus. 
You can collaborate with the other institutions in your city , region and across the country. 
Features that make reuse easier than buying new
You want maximum impact right? So you need to build a system that is easy to use and has features which make it easy for staff.
Your in house system will have to build features like: wish list and watch list (to take pressure off storage) , loans/ rents, sales to staff, refurbishment/ repair management , control features around electricals and lab assets, tracking metrics, tracking participation (user and dept), league tables, automatic messaging etc.
This is a big job. 
Here are just a few features that makes Warp It popular with end users
Your team of in-house developers may lack the knowledge and expertise to create sophisticated software capable of handling all the tasks that make reuse work. 
Our software has the benefit of being extensively tested and used by other institutions just like yours.  This will make for a quicker and smoother integration.
Our team have created the software and eradicated any issues, glitches, bugs, which means fewer, if any, complications in getting to launch.
Going this route almost guarantees that the software is created correctly. You can also expect a fast deployment; purchase the software and install it immediately. You can save valuable time so you can get back to what’s important.
Let's say the lifespan of a software product with no updates is 3 years.  That is your IT team can build it and won't need to update it for 3 years.
Getting our software is far cheaper than using in house IT.  That annual subscription is probably about 3-4 days a year all costs for your in house IT development. For this price you get all the updates and improvements. Your in house system will need at least that to keep it updated and relevant.
You have unlimited office hours support from Warp It- you simply won't get that from your IT department.
IT departments are slow to respond as they have so many other issues to deal with. 
Our response rate for issue resolution is the same day.
We provide a full suite of training videos. 
We provide a pop up chat box should users have any difficulties- responding within 30 seconds with issue resolution in the same day.
We provide a project management tool to help you embed the system into institutional practice, including email and newsletter templates and communication campaign templates.
We are always providing methods and ways to stimulate participation see here for example.
Customers who had their own system and moved over to our system. 
Here is what some of our customers said who had built an in house solution previously...

Luke Champion from 2gether NHS Trust had a message style system and said

" The system saves me time because it is self administering. I do not need to actually make a match, the system does this. It generates reports without us needing to. This saves lots of time. It is easier to use compared to a complex spreadsheet. The system also keeps a record of cost avoidance which is very useful!." 

Read more here. 

Mike Howroyd from University of Leeds built his own internal system but sees the bigger picture we can offer. He said

"There's a lot of potential to create a big, city-wide network for the system. Obviously, that takes some thought as to how that rolls out to make sure it works properly. Individuals are probably not going to want to pay for the online platform, but organizations can and this might be the way to justify the system across the city."

You can read more here.


If you are considering building your own system then please get in touch and we can discuss in more detail how we will get you to your objectives quicker and easier than going alone!


If you don't want to get on touch then please check out our case studies and support to help you on your journey to reuse heaven!


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About the Author..

Daniel O'Connor

Daniel O'Connor

My goal is where reuse & repair is so convenient and desirable, that organisations do not throw anything away or buy anything new.. Where reusable items are redistributed for their 2nd and 3rd useful lives and when the items fail, they are diverted into repair.

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