In-house or outsource: Which option is best when launching a rewards platform?

Posted by Juliet Caswell

Should I use my in-house team or outsource to an agency? This is a question that many companies will ask when it comes to launching a rewards platform.

I recently saw a study which got me thinking about the in-house or outsource debate. Titled Voice of the Market, Part 1: The Use of Non-Cash Rewards & Recognition, it is a signature study from The Incentive Research Foundation.

The study, which was published in June 2018, focusses on internal programme owners and what they consider to be relevant and compelling when considering non-cash rewards and recognition.

Addressing business needs by building in-house

Part of the study touches on reward platforms. It says:

“Despite the plethora of rewards platforms available in the market, several executives indicated their own systems had been built in-house. Internal technology resources work with communications teams, HR, and programme owners to create fully customised applications designed to specifically address the needs, priorities, and particularities of the firm.”

As the product director for one of those “plethora of reward platforms available in the market”, it got me thinking: With the growth of internal technical resources in companies of all sizes, how do you decide whether to build in-house or outsource to a dedicated provider?

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Why you should bring in the experts

Okay, so it’s correct that the perceived cost of keeping things internal and using teams already in place is much lower than writing a check to an external partner. But, as many of us will probably know, the cheaper option is rarely the right option.

Having spent over 15 years in the reward and recognition industry, it’s my belief that if you want something doing properly, you should bring in the experts….and for very good reasons.

Here are my five reasons why you should consider outsourcing to build and launch your rewards platform.

  1. You want to get it right….first time

While employee recognition is becoming more embedded in our working culture, knowing what makes a successful programme is a pretty niche area of expertise for many businesses. You could opt to bring in a consultant who could help you design the right scheme and platform, but that can be an expensive option. Also, often much of the knowledge will leave with them once the project is completed.

Working with an agency instead will give you access to a talent pool of individuals, whose job it is to design and develop online reward platforms. Their experience with other clients is invaluable in understanding what does, and doesn’t, work, ensuring that you don’t make the same mistakes.

  1. You need to launch the programme NOW

Maybe your current recognition programme isn’t working for you, or your recent employee engagement survey has highlighted key areas that need urgently addressing. Whatever the need, most people need a solution yesterday.

Most of us will know that internal projects and road maps tend to take a back seat to sales, clients and the demands of business as usual. Using an off-the-shelf-platform will reduce your time to launch and, through outsourcing, your project manager will be dedicated to making sure you launch to deadline. When choosing a solution, you should also make sure it can be customised to work for you and the nuances of your business.

  1. Reward sourcing is costly and time consuming

Whether you’re launching a local or global rewards platform, it’s critical to have a comprehensive, localised choice of rewards for your participants. From vouchers and gift cards to travel, experiences and the latest technology, the challenge of maintaining a rewards catalogue is a full-time job.

From localised supplier sourcing and due diligence, through to range management and the operational overhead of processing orders, there’s only so much an internal procurement team can do. Most reward platform providers come with experienced staff whose job is to do this kind of work. They also offer an integrated rewards catalogue, which provides the ultimate choice for your employees.

  1. Don’t underestimate the importance of communication

Frequent communications with participants is absolutely key to a reward platform’s success – although there are still many companies that still haven’t got that message. Often, the communications element is found to be one of the weakest areas of a programme and platform.

Your platform should have the option of sending automated communications, such as when points are awarded to an employee, or a member of your team hits a long-service milestone. Your rewards provider should also work with you to develop a solid, multi-channel communications plan, which will inform your employees and drive effective engagement.

  1. The work doesn’t end when the platform launches – it’s just the start

Considering what resources you have to manage your platform, once it has launched, is just the start. A successful programme isn’t static. It’s agile, and it develops with the business and the demands of its employees. Your rewards team should be regularly analysing programme data to make strategic recommendations. They should also have the ability to continually grow and revamp the scheme over time.

Implementing a customisable solution for your business

Over the last four years, I have dedicated most of my working (and a good deal of my non-working) hours to the development of MyRewards – our market-leading performance, reward and recognition system.


I know I am biased, but it’s a fantastic global platform which not only manages the fulfilment of rewards, but has additional features. This includes:

  • Recognition
  • Leaderboards
  • Claims verification
  • Gamification
  • Learning
  • Reporting
  • Dashboards

The platform can also integrate with internal systems via a range of application programming interfaces (APIs) to seamlessly incorporate into your business.

So why put yourself through the pain and commitment of developing in-house, when you can work with an experienced company and implement a customisable solution that works for your business?

Providing you with a global reward offering

If you do decide to develop your rewards platform in-house, we can still help with global reward fulfilment. Our Global Product System gives you access to over 5,000 rewards in 100 countries via a suite of APIs. These will allow you to build your own platform, and then outsource the overhead of maintaining a localised, up-to-date reward offering.

Whether you decide to develop in-house or outsource to a specialised agency, make sure you do your research first. A successful programme needs to appeal to your employees, be easily adopted and become part of your culture.

Helping you recognise and reward your staff

Launching an effective rewards platform is critical to the success of a reward and recognition scheme and getting the most out of your staff. Whether you need a new platform now, or want to get it right first time, or you need a service where good communication is a priority, we can help.

By outsourcing to CR Worldwide, we can quickly design, launch and optimise a powerful reward and recognition programme for your business. Our programmes are:

Easy to implement — They can be tailored to suit your business’s needs and goals, allowing you to be ready to implement an incentive scheme quickly.

Easy to manage — They offer real-time reporting in participation with ROI and budget management. This means you can effectively manage, organise and track your staff’s performances, set rewards according to your budget, and get the most value out of your rewards scheme.

Easy to use — They are designed to make it easy to reward your staff’s hard work and achievements. This aims to allow employees to feel valued and improve their performance, while enhancing their loyalty and creating an instant bond with your brand.

We’d love to help you engage, motivate and inspire your staff with our innovative reward and recognition services. To speak to a member of our award-winning team:

As a founding partner of CR Worldwide, Juliet began her journey with the company in 2002. Moving from Operations Director to Product and Propositions Director in 2014, she has played a significant role in shaping all aspects of the business to help it become the award-winning company it is today. In this time, she expanded the operational side of the business, – from her sole role to a department of over 40 – a team that successfully delivers and manages over 1000 reward and recognition programs for clients worldwide.