Caveat emptor! Oh sh*t, why did we buy that Software?

Failure in nonprofit software projects can cause sever damage!

When it comes to buying software these days it may seem a bit like caveat emptor or “Oh S*it” for some. The market place is rich with options  and it’s very competitive especially at the low and high-end with many large-scale packages available which seem to promise everything in the organization. In this article, I will explore some disasters where the software selected dramatically impacted the organization and then underscore ten rookie mistakes to avoid in your software decision.

Significant Software Failures to ponder: 

Residential Services Incorporated, a North Carolina based service agency is a good starting point. In an overhaul of its computer system, the agency bought a large-scale software package. Then they found that their computer system did not have the capacity to meet the bandwidth requirements of the system.

Washington State University decided to replace an older student management system with Oracle’s PeopleSoft system at a cost of fifteen million dollars. Installation of the system caused miscommunication between the University’s financial and financial aid modules that caused widespread delays in financial aid disbursements.

The State of North Carolina: In this case, the state of North Carolina terminated a contract with Contractor Over Tax Software System.  North Carolina has already paid CGI $63.8 million for the tax-collection system. Wow!

In the field of Battle: It sometimes gets even more serious than just dollars and cents. In one incident I read from years past involving an armed services unit, a small “undetected glitches” in the software for identifying incoming missiles was found to have cost the lives of sailors on warships. Unfortunately, the glitches “in programming”, only discovered after the fact, had caused the misfiring of multi-million dollar rockets.

These are several cases in the press, however, if you would like to review more you may do so by going to Info World which has the IT disasters of 2013 in an article titled “The Worst IT projects of 2013“. The reports are sure to get your heart pounding a bit. So, be warned.

Top  10 Mistakes That Make You look Dumb in Software Decisions

Unfortunately, I have seen it very often. Many times “the fit” provided to address a problem is poor. The convincing demonstrations during the evaluation process can certainly be very impressive. But, it’s important not to get to enamored without properly taking the time to address a selection process with the proper due diligence it deserves. Please consider below the common mistakes in selecting Online Membership Management Software (any software) which may help frame the importance in making a smart software decision at your organization and avoiding failure:

  1. Overbuying: Buying software without sufficient technical support and paying for unused licenses can drain the budget.
  2. No Room for growth: Buying software which cannot grow with your organization can impact your revenue opportunities.
  3. Poor Design: Buying software that keeps staff so busy they are diverted from their real jobs.
  4. Difficult to Use: buying software where application requires a lot of expensive outsourced training that costs staff time and money
  5. Overpriced: Buying the wrong software which costs so much the board won’t allow you to do anything for years!
  6. Poor Morale: Buying software that frustrates staff and damages staff morale and motivation.
  7. Bad Customer Reputation: Buying software that causes delays and malfunction that damage the organization’s reputation.
  8. Dual Systems: Buying software and still having to maintain an old system because you can’t get the history in the new one!
  9. Fired: Buying software and losing your job. Yes, this can happen. I have seen it!
  10. Having to do it again! Buying software that is so bad you have to pay for a whole new package and go through the process after a couple of years. Now, that in of itself should be enough right?

So, buyer beware (caveat emptor) is true!

Our mission is to identify the best software for your specific needs. The flip side of this is reducing the risk of software failures. It’s important to know your requirements, perform your due diligence before the search, and take the time necessary to make a smart decision. And, if you would like to discuss your software needs with us please give us a call.

Until then, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

SmartThoughts, Software Selection failure is not an option!



AMS Software Review: Naylor Timberlake Membership Software

Naylor Timberlake AMS Software Review

Isn’t it time to get rid of your database?

In our “Search of a Membership Software Series”, we have prepared a quick look at the Naylor Membership Software in this article. Please note that this summary is not intended to provide our full report but rather should serve as a quick overview of the Naylor (Formerly Timberlake) membership software system. For those interested in learning more, we have prepared a detailed “Smart Report” for Association Executives who would like the full view.

The full report available upon request from Association Executives provides detailed information about the product in a easy to read question and answer format.

Naylor AMS Membership Software

Brief Summary: 

Timberlake Membership Software is provided by Naylor. In early 2015, Timberlake Membership Software became a part of the Naylor Association Solutions family. As of 9/2017, Timberlake is being re-branded simply as Naylor Association Solutions — one company with multiple solutions

In 2016, the team at Timberlake reported to us that they have roughly 500 customers (+). And, with the backing of Naylor’s resources, they have a solid depth of development team and service resources stationed in Hunt Valley, MD. Timberlake is guided by a respected and technically astute team which has been working on maturation of the membership software since 1999.

Per Timberlake, the intent of the software is to provide an “All in One” simple to use website and Association Management Software designed for small staff associations. Timberlake is entirely web based for access anywhere and anytime. Timberlake includes everything you need to organize, automate and optimize your small staffed association from a single, cloud-based platform that’s accessible from anywhere.

In my opinion, what makes Timberlake such a valuable AMS solution is that it’s something most nonprofit association can afford. So, whether you are using spreadsheets or outdated association management software that is too cumbersome or expensive to upgrade, Timberlake will work with you to transform your membership process into an efficient and streamlined experience.

If you are a small staffed associations you may likely realize significant time savings and gain a great technology partner, all while creating more value for your members.

Key Features of Naylor Membership Software:

  • Membership & Customer Relationship Management
  • Email Communications Management
  • Committee Management
  • Chapter Management
  • Storefront e-Commerce (Online Directories, Self-Service, Customers, Dues Payments, Events, Orders etc.)
  • Finance Management
  • Meetings and Event Registration
  • Integrated Content Management System
  • Hosting with Access Anywhere & Anytime
  • Forum
  • Job Board
  • Survey Management
  • Advertising Management
  • Blog Capabilities
  • Email blast, Text and Voicemail Messaging Services
  • Subscription Management
  • Certification (CEU) Management
  • Exhibit Booth Management
  • Web Site Design

Naylor Membership Software Fit: 

  • Small Associations.
  • Their “Sweet Spot” tends to be in the 4 to 15 staff range. However, can scale up with the release of the enterprise version.
  • Associations who need deeper functionality and greater ability to configure than micro association software packages.
  • Association which desires flexibility of subscription pricing and straight cost implementation.
  • Membership focused organizations which desire concierge level implementation services.

Key Strengths of Naylor AMS?

  • Small staffs are their  focus.
  • One fully integrated website and database solution.
  • Incredible value & features.
  • Highly configurable and expands with enterprise edition.
  • In house website design expertise.
  • Mobile and tablet friendly.
  • Concierge Implementation.

Is Naylor (formerly Timberlake) AMS Software right for you?

Is Timberlake right for you? To answer that question, we have prepared a detailed “Smart Report” available for qualified executives interested in learning about our view of this database software.

To be sure, this comprehensive report is not a brochure or “marketing noise.” Rather, it’s a detailed report designed to help organizations gain a better understanding of the basic tenants of this software solution designed for associations. The report may be obtained as an access subscription and is available upon request.

Please note that you must be verified by our staff and entitles you to one free consultation to discuss the report. There is a one report limit per nonprofit.

Please stay tuned to our ongoing Searching for A Smart Membership Software software reviews where we will continue to provide further insights into other Membership Database Software and Donor database software options designed for 501(c) 3 organizations.

For our review of software product articles, please click here AMO, NOAH Membership Software, Nimble AMSESX Catalyst , Weblink Connect, Altai Membership Software, The Databank, NeonCRM , Bloomerang, MemberCentral, Blue TahitiLittle Green Light , Impexium Membership Software, ClubExpress, CRM MemberManager , Fonteva MemberNation, and StarChapter.

And, to obtain a sample list of the database software reviews we have, you may follow the link here.

If you work for a software vendor and have a software database system which you would like us to include in our software review process, please contact us.

Until next time, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

Timberlake AMS Software Review

Playing Tug of War in your Software Search?

Nonprofit Software searches are dynamic. We explore the dynamics of groups here.

Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” In my experience, nowhere is this truer than when working with a group in software selection. In this article, I explore the facets that “group dynamics” play in the search for nonprofit software.

“A review of the impact of group dynamics in software searches”

Years ago, I read an article in Moneywatch on group dynamics which suggests these tips for a productive group which seemed to resonate with me. Here are the major tips:

1. Set clear goals for the group.
2. Express your confidence in the value of group work.
3. Encourage each participant’s contribution.
4. Always remember to say thank you.

Further, according to one publication, each group member’s behavior can serve as a trigger to another’s behavior. No doubt that groups are a practical way for accomplishing tasks and solving problems. However, before you embark on “The Search” for software you need to know that your group assembled will require preparation and leadership to be successful. Below you will find five tips for minimizing the “Tug of War” aspect of software selection from my vantage point.

Know what must be accomplished

This topic was covered previously in another article but is worthy of a repeat. The group needs to know what the desired goals are in the pursuit of new automation. Without a shared goal, the group will get lost in the search. The group must collaborate to agree on the metrics which they will determine is success. And, then get realistic with your expectations, you won’t get everything.  Sorry!

Know your group

The culture of an organization influences the attitude of the group members. And depending on the role each participant plays in the group, it can be difficult to foster compromise and reach consensus. Group members can become competitive and territorial. It is important to observe body language and understand silences.

Know your audiences specific needs

These needs affect every member of the group. For example, the non-profit with an ineffective process for tracking memberships and conference enrollments will be looking for software that solves those problems–problems that affect the workday of each member of the group. Focus on these issues and work for buy-in from group members.

Know how to encourage common ground 

Demonstrate how each need can be met and encourage discussion and questions. It’s important that everyone knows that they won’t get every need met. Expectations need to be set that the organization is the most important aspect of the journey. It’s not one department which is going to use the enterprise software systems in place today. In other words, Membership, Events/Meetings, Development, IT, Executives, and your customers all are stakeholders.

Know how to make a decision 

Strong leadership supported by management will help group dynamics in making decisions. Also important to understand is workers who perform repetitive tasks in their jobs are averse to change. And, yes, the Executive Director and CEO of the organization need to play a big role in the decisions and software selection process! I am not a big fan of “voting” by consensus for the decision. Rather, I believe that boards place Executive Directors and CEO’s in charge for a reason, and they should with good counsel be prepared to make the final decision. They are the leader in pushing the objectives forward for the organization.

Finally, at the start and along the way a carrot needs to placed before the group. In other words, every participant needs to know why your going to change software systems and what are the metrics the organization and the key stakeholders (staff, constituents, board) hope to achieve. Knowing the specifics of how new software will make your lives easier will motivate everyone to participate constructively and enhance their willingness to buy in. And, know that the carrot needs to stay present throughout the selection, implementation, and usage of software. Therefore, during your “group pre-planning”, decide early on how your going to keep the momentum during the project and plan for it!

If you are searching for new technology or would like to explore how to improve your organizational efficiency in software selections, please contact us. We would enjoy helping.

Until then, keep SmartThoughts in mind.Nonprofit Software Dynamics play a role in the decisions for your organization.  Be smart.