Einstein said, "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe. FE is very good at many things. But I think Einstein understood us better than we sometimes understand ourselves.

In my work I frequently come across providers that have decided on a new website or piece of software such as a CRM system. These providers then have a decision to make. It is how to source the software or build the website.

It seems a simple decision to make but often demonstrates the level of human stupidity that Einstein referred to.

Which would you choose?

You have two things options when obtaining your software or building your website. You can buy something off the shelf or you go down the DIY route and build it yourself from scratch.

Option one means buying a proprietary system, say a CRM system, from one of the large companies such as Microsoft. They will have invested thousands of hours and even more money into designing, developing and testing a system that addresses the needs of the majority of buyers. Their software systems are not cheap but they are reliable and can be made to work within a few days of purchase. Indeed some systems work right out of the box.

If it is a website you want, then a web designer can take a proprietary system and customise it to your distinct look and feel; so that it doesn't look like the provider up the road, even though the software used maybe exactly the same.

There is a cheaper option here as well. It is to take an "open source" system and customise that. Open source is a form of crowd sourcing; the software will have been designed by a group of designers and is given away free. So there are no annual fees (I've seen purchased software have an additional annual licence fee as high as £20k, so beware).

Open source may mean employing a specialist to customise the system for you, but it costs much less than a proprietary system from companies like Microsoft.

Option two, the DIY option, is favoured by some organisations. Here a member of staff takes a bit of time to develop something from scratch, usually whilst trying to carry out their day job.

They have little time and few resources. In most cases these people are very skilled IT staff. But sadly they are expert in a field other than the one they are now attempting. Without expertise, time, financial and other resources they struggle.

Their managers however support them as a means to cut costs and the staff member's pride determines that anything "not invented here" can ever be as good as their dream of the ultimate website or CRM system. They argue for example that they have to invent something new as the provider is unique and Microsoft et al never realised how different they are.

Well consider how many education providers there are worldwide; the answer is hundreds of thousands. Bearing in mind a CRM is a database comprising numerous fields, that are capable of being changed in many ways, is it likely the standard system invented by Microsoft is incapable of serving their needs?

As for websites, there is nothing unique about provider websites that a standard package cannot cope with. So it looks like the "not invented here" syndrome is an expensive mistake and could be an example of Einstein's human stupidity argument.

Which would you choose?

DIY websites are unlikely in the circumstances.

Logically "not invented here" software and websites are unlikely to exist, surely.

Not so. I see them far too often when I review provider websites and back end systems. .

Serious consequences

Provided everything works OK these sites and software go unnoticed for years. Until disaster strikes.

The problem is that the systems are DIY creations. They comprise complex code that is understood by the designer, but rarely comprehended by other people. In a world where code can be written in infinite ways the DIYer often lacks an understanding of the normal conventions.

Later, when the designer has moved on, or is off sick, and the system goes down, there is no one that can repair it.

Imagine the problem if your online application process crashes during a busy period. Each student represents several £thousands if recruited. If their application fails, how long will it be before you spot the problem? How long will it be before a new website or software system can be built? I would hazard a guess at months.

Can you survive if your website crashes and it isn't possible to access it at all?

Is a website built in-house by a DIYer a good FE survival strategy?

Marketing consultant Stefan Drew was previously director of marketing at two FHE colleges and now works with colleges, universities and private providers throughout the UK, Europe and the US - visit: www.StefanDrew.com and http://www.providermastermind.com

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertiser Skyscrapers

Video Advert

Newsroom Activity

Jo Moriani added a new event 7 hours


Overview Ofsted has now announced in detail its plans for carrying out what it calls ‘interim visits’ in the autumn period up to the end of...

  • Thursday, 22 October 2020 10:00 AM
  • Online

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page