5 Key Insights on Making Software Decisions

5 Key Insights in Making Nonprofit Software Decisions

It is interesting to consider how people make decisions regarding their business; especially when it comes to choosing the best software solution. Perhaps, you are faced with one now? If so, in this short article, I outline 5 key insights which I have found interesting with regards to making a decision.

Getting Smart with Software Decisions

First, let me outlined the 5 general insights on making software decisions which are prevalent in many instances today:

  1. Everyone wants to know why one product is better than another software product. It has been documented that in a focus group where people are asked to make a decision (but not to compare), they will automatically compare anyway. We compare everything!
  2. Most organizations I visit with regularly, want that “Special Pill” now. Organizations are comprised of people. And like all people we want the “easiest” route to get to the end result. Time and Time again I hear, “what do you know about” and “what is the best” donor database system. With Software decisions, generally speaking most are in the “Whirlwind” and strapped for time to go through a formal process to secure a proper answer to that question. This is not being cynical, it’s just the facts.
  3. People tend to choose software based on features rather than what the software will actually accomplish for them as a business.
  4. People are largely unaware of why they make the choices they make, including the way they analyze the differences in different products. It’s usually random and has very little structure.
  5. Decision-making skills likely come from a variety of sources, including experiences and values from early childhood, education, biases etc. which are hard to pin-point. This is an interesting situation. Simply put, the decisions can be made purely on something that has nothing to do with the product without proper requirements outlined and prioritized.

What do these insights shed light on? Before answering that question, here are some quotes which I believe will help frame the answer:

Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.
from Lao Tzu

In other words, the process of finding the best software for your organization is a small step in a longer journey. And, in fact, the selection of software in the grand scheme is a small thing. Long term success with software is dependent on many other factors as well.

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
from Theodore Roosevelt

If you are waffling on the process of selecting software, doing nothing is typically the least attractive decision.

Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers. It may not be difficult to store up in the mind a vast quantity of facts within a comparatively short time, but the ability to form judgments requires the severe discipline of hard work and the tempering heat of experience and maturity.
from Calvin Coolidge

Software Selection projects are rarely performed in an organization. In fact, at best an organization may go through a software selection process once every 5 to 6 years (According to the Lehman Reports). The mere fact that there are so many software options today actually makes it more difficult than useful. The lack of experience and amount of options makes it increasingly difficult for any organization to make a decision at all much less the “best” one.

Without a doubt, there is no one way to make a smart software decision. But, fundamentally, the “best fit” can be greatly enhanced by starting with a sound foundation of your requirements. To ensure success, you may benefit from outside resources and good counsel.

We tackle the software selection decision-making process on a regular basis. Unlike organizations, we do not tackle the challenge every 5 to 7 years. No, we focus our efforts purely on software selection, review viable products, and seek to create value, grow revenue, & create competitive advantage in the process.

Try to avoid taking the easiest route and take a hard look in the mirror first before embarking on the search. If you are contemplating a change in software or simply need help figuring out which software is right for you, contact us. We want to be a part of helping make a smart software decision. Until next time, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

Free Database Software for Nonprofits eBook

The Disturbing Impact of Software Review Reliance

Software Review Sites can be helpful or problematic

Before the advent of online shopping, conscientious consumers made many software purchasing decisions based on research of a product or brand. The buyer leaned very heavily on the software provider for product information as well. Of course, old school methods did affect consumer buying trends, but there was a tacit understanding that, in the case of direct advertisement, the buyer was aware that the advertiser was actively soliciting business. In this article, I discuss the psychology of online software reviews and how “Review Reliance” can be problematic.

Nonprofit Software Reviews

Today, the buyer is in more control than ever before. And, with the shift to online shopping years ago, we have seen a more subtle form of consumer manipulation (that may be a bit harsh but hear me out) in the form of some marketing driven “Paid by the Lead” software review sites and even software vendors. While we as a company believe peer reviews certainly have their place in the buying cycle today, it’s certainly a less-than-accurate way for those with the task of finding the best membership or top donor software to use as your only means to narrow down your options. Why do I say that? Let me explain by citing a couple of recent studies on consumer buying.

The Psychology of Buying

A study published in the Journal of Economic Psychology explains how we react to information provided to us in the form of product reviews. Interestingly, the study indicates that viewer response can be manipulated by merely changing the order in which the consumer receives reviews. The order in which customer reviews are presented affects the end judgment of the consumer. Further, the study asserts that if consumers are presented with positive reviews first, and then presented with negative reviews, a surprising thing happens. Though consumer perception is altered somewhat by the negative review, most often the positive review will be given more weight in the consumer’s mind.

Another study pertaining to the psychology of online review of software sheds further light on the way reviews affect not only the consumer, but also the reviewer. This study, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, reveals that when reviewers are asked to explain their opinion in more depth by assigning emotion to the product, their opinion becomes more strongly entrenched, and they are more likely to want to retell their experience with the product later.

Problematic Issues with Software Reviews

Why is this problematic? Simply put, knowledge of this psychological phenomenon may enable a software marketer to manipulate consumer perception by merely employing various tactics. For example, changing the order of the reviews or amount of reviews posted on a product’s website. In my mind, this mental shell game demonstrates the fact that too much reliance on product reviews can lead to poor decisions when making software choices. Rather than actually helping. In fact, it can actually “cloud” the perception if everything isn’t “perfect” as well. So, why should I even bother may come to mind if everything appears to suck. Yet, we all know that software isn’t perfect, right! Can I get an Amen?

The bottom line for both of these studies demonstrates the intrinsic subjectivity of this form of word-of-mouth advertising found on some website today. Therefore, those with the task of choosing appropriate software for non-profit organizations would do well to beware of falling prey to this subtle form of manipulation which may be found on various sites.

Use Software Reviews as One Element in the Search Process

Just to be clear, as a company we certainly do not believe that all software product reviews or websites are bad. Nor, do we believe that all software vendors “stack the deck” with paid submissions either. In fact, in the right forum such as a controlled peer based review site such as ReviewMYAMS.com (Super site focused on Membership Software), TrustRadius, & G2 Crowd (Both more generic software) you can obtain very valuable insights on software products. For example, I believe they are great for quickly discerning what to ask a software vendor who may have some bad or good reviews.

However, feedback, chatter, comments etc. made on review sites (and in person) should be weighed in your software selection process and put in the right context. In other words, I believe it’s important to take reviews and studies with a grain of salt. Word of mouth is subjective and sometimes knowing the context of a review (attitudes, experience, expectations, what was sold etc.) tends to make every opinion a little clearer. And, that’s sometimes challenging to do in any survey, review site, or conversation with a peer.

And, buyer beware of some “paid by the lead” software advisement sites. These software review sites are simply marketing and paid advertising firms which do a wonderful job in obtaining “leads” for their participating software vendors. And, that’s fine as long as you know that going in to the process.

How Should You Review Software?

That being said, what is the course of wisdom one should take when you are tasked with the job of purchasing software? First, it is imperative to define the specific needs of your organization. What functionality are you hoping to have by purchasing this software? How will this software help you to achieve goals and objectives of your non-profit? 2nd, take those requirements and prioritize them. You won’t find everything you need, but you should strive in making the smartest choice for you.

Third, consider carefully the people who will be using the software (Member, Donors, Volunteers, Staff, Executives). How will this software impact normal business practices and processes within your particular organization? What experience will your staff need in order to use this software effectively?

The real question should always be, “What is it that my organization needs that this software can provide to help our strategic goals?” Answering questions such as these is vital to making an informed and productive purchase.

Membership Software Review Site Options: 

If you are curious, there are quite a few peer to peer review sites available for membership executives and non profits find comments on the various nonprofit technology. Here is a sampling below:

Like all advice, you need to find out where they derive their revenue. And, get an understanding of the depth in the type of software you desire and expertise of their research and data too. Quite frankly, I amazed by how many sites truly do not know where software fits. And, the errors are plentiful so be wary of any insights you find here.

No Two Organizations Are Alike 

In short, there are no two nonprofit organizations which are just alike. Even though your organization may be similar to another nonprofit (membership organization, fundraising, charity, faith-based), you bring to the table different people, processes, circumstances and infrastructure which is unique to your nonprofit. Therefore, proceed with caution as you embark on your journey to find the answer to your question, “What is the Best Membership Software, Top Donor Software, or Leader in Customer Relationship Management Software“.

If you would like help in making smarter software decisions that will work best for your non-profit, please contact us today. We help take the guesswork out of the software selection process, and ensure that the needs of your organization are met in the best possible impartial way.

Until next time, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

The best membership software can be found in asking the right questions.

How Events Management Software Can Benefit Your Nonprofit

What is the value of events management software for nonprofits

Have a monstrosity of an event you have to support? If so, Event Management Software may be one tool you will want to use if you want to plan your event without pulling all of your hair out. In this article, I discuss some of the benefits you should consider with Events Management Software.

Events Management Software for Nonprofits

Overview of Events Management Software

With event management software you are able to empower your staff with the option of scheduling, preparing, promoting and bringing everything related to an event together so you can pull off your nonprofit event with ease. In addition, it allows nonprofits to easily throw events, track registrations and more. Many solutions today (Best of breed or All in One) have a wide array of features that let you customize how your events are conducted, including letting you manage event sponsorships, speakers, sessions, event planning, logistics, exhibitors, and mobile applications.

Event Organization 

Organization is a significant key to successful events such as meetings, seminars, trade shows and fundraisers. Event planning software lowers dangers and streamline efficiency. Efficacy is frequently undermined when using spreadsheets. The overflow of data is not always easy for organizations to handle. The threat of data loss is always a possibility and can cause quite the headache for you and everyone else involved.

Event Planning 

Another benefit to using this type of software is you can allow more than one person to help with the planning. With the software, you won’t have to worry about overstepping someone or them overstepping you because you will see what has been completed or done by taking a look at the software.

Abstract Management Features (Call for Papers) 

When you’re planning an event, you know it’s a whole process to figure out what sessions are going to be run and how. Event small nonprofits have to choose from sometimes hundreds of people who are submitting abstracts and want to present. You need to select the best abstracts – sometimes through multiple rounds of judging – and track their scores throughout each round and in the final selection process. And once sessions are chosen, they need the get scheduled, rooms need to get booked, and speakers need to be notified. Using a manual system to do this is a nightmare, and using event planning software that doesn’t integrate with the rest of your system is daunting still. Abstract Management should at a minimum be able to be integrated with most Event Management Software solutions.

Logistics Management with Events Management Software 

Have you ever had logistics change for your events?  It’s what they do. And it seems like they change at the worst of times. With event management software, you can track rooms, speakers, sessions and any equipment you might need along the way. If you have a session that’s in a particular room at a particular time, that session might need AV, a projector, a stage, certain setup and breakdown, food, or any other requirement. If you have got 100 rooms being used 9 to 5 in a six-day period, this can get pretty complicated – event management software can handle that too.

Floor Plan Management 

Do you have exhibitors who need help with booth sales and space management ? In addition to managing logistics for the show, many event management software platforms offer an interactive floor plan which is easily accessible on the web and through a mobile app. With various solutions, attendees can quickly search for and locate vendors by category, name or booth. In fact, some mobile event applications go so far as to allow you the ability to click on a booth which may yield a display of the exhibitor’s details. Very cool stuff!

Attendance Tracking and Guest List Management 

By using events management software, you will have complete control over your guest list. It is often easy to add someone to the guest list if you are using paper and have a long guess list. With this software, you can simply search up the name to ensure you haven’t added it already. It will also prevent others in your organization from adding names you have already added. Ticketing is also possible in most solutions today.

Integration with Membership Software or Donor Database

As with most nonprofits, it’s imperative to keep everything in one place to make life a little less stressful. That noted, it’s likely wise to have your event management software “integrate”  with your membership software or CRM software? We know how frustrating this can be. Many nonprofit donor databases too have designed their databases from the ground up which can sync across all functions with a full 360° view. Depending on the size and focus of your organization, this benefit is a necessity!

These are just several areas ways in which Events Management Software may help a nonprofit handle the events process better. The bottom line is you really should consider using some form of events software to keep things in order. It is a great way to organize and plan events and eliminate some of the stress that comes with doing so. It is a way to work with others and not overstep what they have already done.

Not sure if you need an “All in One” solution or “Best of Need” Events Management Software, please feel free to contact us. Until then keep SmartThoughts in mind.