At some point, every software company faces a basic choice: whether to build an "open" or "closed" product. Whether its software will play nicely with other applications or whether its users are locked into a proprietary ecosystem. Open software is predicated on the notion that companies should build the best product possible within a given area, and then allow customers to "plug in" other complementary tools and services. Closed software is predicated on the notion that companies should build 'all-in-one' solutions to maintain control over the user’s experience.
At Crew, we believe deeply that open software is the right answer. Considering the below trade-offs, we believe open software creates more value for customers and that customers are always better off in the long-run using tools that embrace an open approach.
Best-in-Class vs. All-in-One
Open software works well with any application that a customer wants or needs to use. No single company can possibly build the best version of every possible product and feature. Openness gives customers the ability to implement best-in-class solutions from a variety of vendors that all working together. In short, it offers the best of all worlds.
In a closed ecosystem, customers only get access to the features that have been built by a given provider. It isn't uncommon a portion of those features to lag behind what the other companies—the ones that specifically focus on that area—have built. In an all-in-one, closed system, the bar to clear is often just ‘good enough.’
Flexibility vs. Lock-In
Open software provides customers ultimate flexibility, choice, and control. Have a new business need that demands new software functionality? You have your choice of providers and can look for the best-in-class tool that delivers against that need.
In a closed ecosystem, users are at the mercy of the vendor providing the all-in-one solution. If they don't have the functionality they are looking for, the focus shifts to working with the vendor to prioritize it on their product roadmap (and we know how that goes...).
Developer Ecosystem vs. Professional Services
One of the hallmarks of open software is "APIs" (application programming interfaces), which generally means that any developer can build on top of that software. Some customers have specific needs or workflows around which they would like to customize their software. Open APIs enable any software developer to build that custom implementation. Open software attracts an ecosystem of developers that exponentially increases the value of the software itself.
Closed software doesn't provide the same level of 'mass customization'. Typically any customization or tailoring of the software for a given need means paying for expensive 'professional services' from that vendor. This usually translates to fewer options, less flexibility, and higher costs.
It's for these reasons that we have architected Crew as a completely open platform. We provide public, open APIs allowing any customer and any developer to extend and customize Crew to fit their needs. We believe Crew should work with any other piece of software our customers use—be it scheduling and labor management, payroll, customer feedback tools, applicant tracking, training and learning management, etc. We believe customers are best served when they can choose the very best software tools in a given category and customize those to fit their specific needs and workflows. This is our ‘openness manifesto’, and it's our pledge to our customers.