For membership-based organizations, membership software could be the most important software purchase of all. In this article, we offer up 7 to do’s when choosing the right membership software to meet all your organization’s needs. Before you begin the process (or continue), here are important factors to consider:
7 Lucky Tips in Finding the Best Membership Software
Pain & Gain
Invite staff, at all levels, to share job challenges, such as routine bottlenecks and chronically incomplete information. Identify problems that your new membership management software must address. No pain? It may be pertinent to sing an oldie but goodie tune from Mr. Stephen Stills called “Love the One your With”.
Organizations, like swift rivers, change from day-to-day and year to year. If you anticipate major growth or shift in direction, build that into the software evaluation process. You need to look ahead to determine what success will be after achieving your “Wildly Important Goal” of finding and implementing a new software solution.
Understand Your Current Technology
Take an inventory of current software and hardware. View membership management software through this lens. In other words, if one package would require costly upgrades and another doesn’t, that’s valuable information. The assets you have may be the most valuable.
Weigh the Pros and Cons
Software as a Service (SaaS) such as Salesforce.com refers to applications that are hosted by the vendor, rather than residing on your organization’s computers. With very few exceptions, this should likely be the model for most small to mid-size associations today. However, SaaS has both pros and cons. As a great deal of software is now offered in SaaS format, it’s important to weigh benefits and concerns against the needs of your organization with regards to membership site software.
Develop Your Software Vocabulary
The software industry has a language all its own. Before talking to vendors, familiarize yourself with key terminology of membership database software. For example, what does “Cloud” mean to the vendor or you? I find it interesting to even simply ask, “What does CRM mean to your organization”? The answer is quite interesting!
Control the Conversation
I enjoy learning about new software solutions. As a result, we work with many software vendors which sell in the non-profit industry. Sales people have more experience with their software products than you do. And, the good ones are professionals who truly desire to help solve business problems. However, they also have an arsenal of persuasion techniques to expedite the sales process as well. As a result, I encourage our clients to enter every conversation with clear objectives, and be prepared to hold your ground when the vendor tries to change the course of the discussion. It’s a good idea to have a few staff people from different departments participate in the process.
Understand the Bottom Line
Membership Database Software packages can seem like apples and oranges, until you understand exactly what features each offers and for what cost. Be sure you understand the upfront price and any ongoing or future charges.
When it comes to making a major software purchase like membership tracking software, unbiased expert advice is invaluable. If you don’t want to “go it alone,” SmartThoughts is here to assist. Our team members are experts at helping associations make smart choices when it comes to software. To find out how we can simplify the process, please contact us.
Until then, keep SmartThoughts in mind.