When you're looking for software to help run your business, all-in-one options often sound good, but they aren't always the answer. If you're looking for flexibility in a changing market, a focused product with robust integrations can deliver the most value for your business.
Here at Arlo, we build training management software to power the businesses of training providers all over the world. Training providers of all shapes and sizes, with various and complex requirements. The Arlo product doesn't provide all of their required functionality out-of-the-box, yet we're signing more deals than we ever have. Before I tell you why our customers are buying a product that doesn't "do it all," let's start with a little bit of history...
When Arlo first started back in 2009, building it all yourself was the done thing at software companies. MySpace was hot but native integrations were not, and Zapier wasn't even a twinkle in our sleepless product manager's eye. Like many businesses of yesteryear, we spent the early days of Arlo building a ton of functionality into our core product to meet the unique needs of our customers. They'd say jump and we would build the bridge (brick and mortar of late nights, strong coffee, and thousands of lines of .net code), and dive right in.
10 years later, we're proud to be retiring a lot of this old code and stripping our product back to its core functionality. We've learned a focused product with integrations is better than an all-in-one solution to power the businesses of our customers:
It future-proofs their business when requirements change.
It enables flexibility and adaptability in a rapidly changing market.
It allows their business to use best-of-breed software.
Let's dig into these a little more.
Future-proof your business
For a business choosing new software, an all-in-one solution meets your requirements for a single moment in time. It's near impossible to predict your requirements for the years ahead, as your business changes and grows. So how do you account for these unknowns?
By choosing an integrated solution.
An integrated solution allows you to easily add and remove functionality without the need for lengthy and expensive custom development or a complete overhaul of your tech stack.
For a software provider, building additional functionality into our core product too often leads to technical debt. The bigger the code base, the more expensive it is to maintain—and that cost is passed on to new and existing customers. Customers like you, who end up paying a premium price for a kitchen sink full of features you'll never use. That ongoing maintenance work means developers have less time to improve the core product or work on new features.
As we turn off old features, the requests for new ones haven't slowed. Potential customers approach us with more requirements than ever before. And when evaluating software options, more often than not, it comes down to a choice between Arlo or a custom-built solution. We understand this, but we're still not willing to budge on custom development for even the largest of potential customers. So, how do we compete with a custom-built solution that's going to tick all of their boxes?
Here it is again: an integrated solution.
We're using Zapier to extend Arlo's product functionality and meet the unique needs of our customers without the cost, complexities, or lengthy delays of custom development.
Zapier is a tool that helps you automate tasks between web apps. Our automatic workflows—which we call Zaps—send information from one app to another so you can stop worrying about copying and pasting and focus on more meaningful work. Check out this Zapier demo to learn more about how it works.
With a Zapier integration, we can offer our customers a better, more sustainable, and often much cheaper, integrated solution to run their training businesses. And, one of the best things about Zapier workflows? They can be built quickly, without developers, and turned off again if required, giving our customers incredible flexibility in how they run their business.
Read more: See how Arlo brings integrations with other apps to its customers.
Be flexible and adaptable to market demands
It's been a tumultuous time for many businesses due to COVID, the training industry included. When the pandemic hit in March 2020, training providers scrambled to cancel face-to-face courses with no idea when they would be able to reschedule. Everyone instead switched quickly to remote training.
Even if we had wanted to, the development team at Arlo couldn't have turned around a custom-built solution to support all of the necessary elements of switching to online learning in the short time it took for the world to go into lockdown. But with a plethora of webinar software and learning management systems already available to integrate with Arlo via Zapier, we could offer an instant, seamless and affordable solution.
Our savvy training providers embraced this opportunity and adapted quickly—a major competitive advantage for us and benefit to our customers who had support transitioning their live training into virtual.
With workflows between Arlo and Zoom, training providers could modify existing face-to-face courses to remote live online webinars, and easily transfer registrants to the new courses. And by integrating with LMS software such as Coassemble, Learndash, or TalentLMS, customers could expand their courses to include on-demand video, self-paced eLearning modules, and blended learning.
Most of our customers are able to connect these third-party software applications and build workflows themselves using our comprehensive library of Zap templates. For more complicated workflows, our in-house Zapier experts lend a helping hand.
Use the best software
Training providers, like many businesses, look for software to help with a multitude of back-end and front-end processes. From customer relationship management and marketing, online registration and check out, reporting to industry bodies for compliance, to invoicing and reconciliation, emailing, and presenter scheduling.
A good focused software provider will be upfront and realistic about the capabilities of their product and clear about its value proposition. At Arlo, for any functionality outside of that existing scope, we recommend adopting a best-of-breed approach and integrating the systems via Zapier. That could mean Microsoft Dynamics as a CRM, HubSpot for marketing automation, and Quickbooks for accounting.
"It's about being focused on our core product and doing one thing really, really well. And for Arlo, that one thing is training," says Arlo's Head of Product Mark Bell. "With this decision, it means we can't be everything to everyone. So we need a way to get core data out of Arlo and seamlessly into other systems to fulfill those requirements, which is where Zapier comes in. And, in turn, those systems can focus on doing their one thing really well."
The key is ensuring that information flows seamlessly between the systems, which is where Zapier comes into play.
Popular Zapier integrations for training providers:
Connect to a newsletter platform like Mailchimp. Registrants are automatically added to specific lists and marketing flows after completing courses.
Send info to accounting systems like QuickBooks Online. Invoices and credit notes flow seamlessly between Arlo and where you process financial information.
Any major learning management system (LMS), such as LearnDash or Coassemble. Whether training providers want to do blended, pure eLearning, staggered enrolment or private group enrolment—almost all are possible with Arlo and a Zapier-integrated LMS.
In addition to this, training providers combine many of the above examples into complex workflows. For example, when a learner registers for a blended course in Arlo, they are automatically enrolled in an LMS, then added to an email list, and have their contact details updated in a CRM. With Zapier integrations making multi-step workflows possible, training providers are automating manual processes between multiple best-of-breed systems.
One-size-fits-all means compromise
Remember those old advertisements for one-size-fits-all swimwear? Ever wonder what happened to those companies? They failed, that's what. Because it turns out that "one size fits all" was actually "one size fits no one." The same thing goes for all-in-one software. Try it on for size and you'll find it doesn't fit quite right in some places, there's limited flexibility, and there's certainly no room to grow.
With Zapier, our customers have a better solution to run their training business. It enables them to be truly flexible, and adapt quickly to changes in the market. It future-proofs their business, and ours, and allows them to make use of the best software available. No limitations.
No matter your industry, if there's a focused, niche program that offers just what you need, investigate integrations that could add the right functionality rather than making the potentially costly switch to an all-in-one system.
This was a guest post from Melanie Hall, content manager at Arlo. Arlo is a complete training management solution to promote, sell, and deliver courses. It manages your training business from end-to-end so you can sleep easy. Register for a free trial of Arlo. Want to see your work on the Zapier blog? Check out our guidelines and get in touch.