When it comes to creating an online incentive or recognition portal it can all suddenly seem like a rather daunting project. Sure, we know we need to drive more sales, engage more staff and recognise achievements. We know that in this modern age utilising the internet is an absolute must. But where do we start? Surely it is quite straight forward. Just get one of those online platforms that people keep ringing me up about - it sounds like you can just plug and play straight away - easy enough…probably have it rolled out in a few days. After all, the agency claims they are experts at providing these type of programmes and platforms. I'll just give them a ring, arrange a meeting, sit back and relax.

If only it was that easy! Yes, there are plenty of agencies out there that claim to be experts and many are just that. However, when it comes to building a bespoke programme and platform to meet your goals and overcome your challenges, there is no such things as ‘a one size fits all’ solution.

Sure we have the technology, but your business, your people, your culture, goals, challenges are all entirely unique to you. No two businesses are ever exactly the same. There are some glaring similarities, and unsurprisingly most businesses actually want the same goals. But what will work for one company may be a mile away from what works for another.

In my experience people often think they know what they want: increased engagement, more sales, lower attrition. Which is all fine and exactly what we all want. However, most people stop the thought process right there and just expect to be able to find the perfect solution sat on the shelf.

I liken it to a customer calling a builder and saying, ‘I want you to build me my dream house, can you do that for me?’ The builder is likely to be thrilled: ‘Of course, this is exactly what I can do for you! I build dream houses, you've come to the right place’. Then comes the million dollar question: ‘What do you want it to look like?’ Four walls, big garden, five bedrooms, open plan kitchen...oh and a swimming pool, you know the sort of thing? The builder is going to start that head scratching thing that they have been mocked for. But then the builder is scratching for a reason. He is the expert for sure, but he is not a mind reader...he is merely a highly skilled builder.

Then the real questions start flowing. What size rooms? What bricks? What style kitchen? Tiles or wooden floor? Oh, do you want under floor heating as I will need to know before I lay the floor and build the kitchen of course. What taps do you want? What door handles? Style of window frames? Double glazing?

The point is that there are thousands of possibilities and thousands of outcomes and the builder can produce them all. But they need to know what exactly you want before they even start digging the foundations. They need input from architects, interior designers, electricians, plumbers and most importantly from you, the paying customer. What is the picture you have inside your head? You need to agree this before the work can start.

Then there are external factors to think about. Is the land big enough? Is it stable? Is the ground level? On a flood plain? The right location? What security features would you like? How do we connect to the sewers, electric, gas?

Once we have established the exact details, then and only then can we work out the exact costs. Land, materials, labour all have to be priced up. It is always advisable on a project of such a scale to leave some contingency. For all of those who have ever seen Channel 4’s ‘Grand Designs’ there is always at least one unforeseen issue that arises once the digging starts. It is sometimes impossible to predict every single variable as this is a truly bespoke project. It will be similar but very different to that last one.  So once the exact detail has been agreed, the plans drawn up, the budget fully costed and time lines set, can you, the customer, sign off the work to begin. Even then it pays to be on hand so that the builder can check items with you as the building work commences and different challenges are thrown in the mix. It is still very much a team effort, where honesty, logic and a cool head are required. It will be hard work, stressful at times, but when you sit back, relax and take in your new dream house, all the hard work and preparation will be well worth in the end.

The same can be said for implementing an online incentive programme - put the right time, effort and resource into the design and development stages and you and your organisation will reap the benefits in the days, months and years to come.

For more information about how we can help to build your dream online incentive programme contact us

Dan Kelly is the Sales and Marketing Director at Corporate Rewards. He has worked in the incentive, motivation, recognition and reward industry for over 18 years, 11 of those being at Corporate Rewards. Dan is account manager for a number of large clients and has a wealth of experience designing, developing and delivering successful programmes and events.

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