When Should You Break-Up with your Membership Software


What No One tells you about breaking up with your Membership Software for nonprofits

With Valentine Day drawing near, I stumbled upon an oldie but goodie, “The Break-UP”. If you are not familiar with the movie,  The Break-up , it stars Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston. And, after thinking about it, the movie sparked my thoughts about the importance of expectations & why organizations move on to another software solution.

Let me explain. As in most situations, it’s not just one incident which causes a tipping point, but rather ongoing poor communication, mishaps, and lack of trust which produces the termination of a relationship (personal or business). Hence, the connection to the movie, The Break-up. The central theme of this movie is that Jennifer Aniston’s character has had it. She is done. It’s apparent that she viewed her relationship differently than her partners. To say it mildly, her expectations were a little higher than her partners. And, as the movie goes, they both wanted different things.

Questions to Ask of Membership Software NonProfits

Take a moment and think about the last time you were fed up with your existing software and were ready to drop kick the software out the office door. What led you to the break-up? Were you made as hell? 

Each organization is unique. And, despite being a nonprofit, there are different people and processes in each organization. Here are several questions to contemplate as you mull this over a bit:

  • Is your situation due to the software? Service Provider? Or, Combo?
  • Are your expectations of the software justified?
  • Is my staff trained adequately on the software we have now?
  • Is the problem our processes?
  • How up to date is the software?
  • Did you have a “Go-To” point person when things went wrong?
  • Are you repeating a pattern of bad technology decisions? If so, Why?

Membership Software for Nonprofits is not perfect!

Let’s face it. Membership Software for nonprofits is not perfect. What tends to exacerbate matters worse is not being able to get the problem resolved which ultimately leads us down the path of discontent and ultimately to the break-up. At SmartThoughts, we specialize in helping organizations with system evaluations and system assessments. More often than not, the prevailing reason given by organizations for failure is the software.

Why Organizations Drop Kick their Membership Software 

When in reality after assessing the situation, it’s usually a combination of many factors which contribute to the break-up such as the following:

  • Lack of Executive Support
  • Outdated technology
  • Lack of training
  • Faulty business processes which have caused unnecessary changes to the software
  • Staff Changes
  • Poor Technical support

Certainly, no one wakes up and yells at the top of their lungs with excitement, “Awesome, we get to implement a new membership software for my nonprofit”. Usually, there are valid reasons (including the above) why an organization needs to move on and select a new software program. But, before you go down that path, we advise our clients to take the time to truly assess your situation before you dust off your last RFP to send out again (which is always a bad bad idea).

Many clients have invested over 10 years in their current membership software for nonprofits, and devoted countless hours to making the program work like a fine oiled machine. In short, first attempt to find some common ground rather grounds for terminating your current software investment. A break-up may not be warranted. Your success may be impeded by something easily corrected such as finding the proper support partner, training, or resetting your “Start Button” for expectations.

If you would like to learn more about our approach to helping associations and nonprofits achieve success with technology, please contact us now.

We provide a free document outlining the key questions to ask of a software reference

Are you seeking a partner or vendor?

Happy MeasureIn associations and nonprofits, your technology suppliers play a key role in your success.

We believe that your degree of happiness with your current system can often be measured by the relationship you have with your supplier.

It is critical that when you purchase technology from any organization, that you don’t buy from a vendor.

You may be asking, “Well, how do you buy software without a vendor”?

Well, it may be a matter of semantics but we believe that associations should buy from a “Partner” rather than a “Vendor”. In other words, organizations should buy from a supplier who is viewed as a “Trusted adviser and partner” rather than a peddler of software.

Unfortunately, it is common today for many companies to find itself in an adversarial relationship with their suppliers. Further, it is not uncommon for overzealous procurement departments to consider it their mission to beat up on suppliers to get better prices or better terms. This is a very shortsighted way to do business.

Therefore, before you make a decision to buy your next system we suggest asking the following:

Are you focusing your efforts on selecting a vendor or an organization who is a potential long term partner?

Not sure of the difference? Then, you may want to consider the following elements below to discern the difference in the two choices.

The Difference in a Vendor and Partner Firm

  • Open Communication: Are you open to the idea of true transparency from the start of the evaluation process through to the ongoing client/supplier relationship? Systems today require that clients and suppliers share an open environment which foster a spirit of cooperation to fully understand the issues and the key desired outcomes for success.  In our opinion, vendors are told what the client wants them to hear, when they want them to hear it.
  • Trust:  Trust is critical. You need a partner which has demonstrated value and trust with similar clients during the evaluation process and continually displays a commitment to making your mutual relationship profitable.
  • Mutual Positive Results: Partners focus on delivering measurable results on an ongoing basis that are aligned to business objectives and values. Vendors are not concerned about your long term strategic business goals.
  • Shared Positive Reinforcement: Partners receive warm greetings and accolades for a job well done. If you are sending vendor RFP’s with canned questions the odds are your approach is dated. In our experience, RFP’s tend to have little relevance to the strategic vision of the organization and typically elicit nothing but a guessing game from the respondents.
  • Collaboration: Partners are asked to help set the agenda. Vendors are told what the client wants done.
  • Shared Metrics of Value: Partners earn business based on demonstrated expertise, business value and cultural fit. Vendors secure the work by slashing their price, being willing to make concessions and hoping something more profitable is in the cards for them in the future.
  • Proper Expectations: Partners are human, they make and admit their mistakes for which they are forgiven. Vendors are provided with no margin for error.
  • Trusted Adviser: Partners are viewed as profit improvement specialists who they want to hear from regularly. Vendors are looked upon as a potential adversary, who, if not managed properly could cause trouble .

We want to partner with our customers to mutually succeed in our respective business operations. We strive to do our best to be a trusted source of knowledge and skill which will add long term value to our clients bottom line.

Software success today is highly contingent on the partners you choose.

If you would like to partner with us in your pursuit of technology, please contact us.