March 8, 2019

How to Shop for Member Management Software

It’s not difficult to get used to software that doesn’t work for your members or organization. Shopping for software is a complex, confusing process. Instead of finding the solutions best for them, member-driven organizations are prone to adjusting and adapting their processes to fit into the limitations of sub-optimal software.

This kind of behavior is easy to fall into – and can have a significant impact on the success of your organization. You use your software for nearly everything you do to manage your members. When you’re relying on the wrong tools, you add inefficiency onto nearly everything you do, fundamentally undermining your ability to be successful.

When you’ve got the?right?tools, work becomes efficient, and your ability to succeed multiplies. Instead of being undermined in nearly everything you do – you’re empowered, able to invest your time and energy?not? in struggling with your tools, but on creating value.

If you’re struggling with the software you use to manage your members, there’s a wide gulf to cross between where you are and where you’d like to be. Shopping for and adopting new software can be an intimidating prospect, especially when you’ve got to keep managing your members – but the benefits are definitely worth it!

Articulating Needs and Evaluating Quality-of-Life

One of the biggest hurdles to successfully shopping for membership management software is starting with a clear understanding of exactly what you and your organization need.

Some of your needs are clear. Most member-based organizations need a contact database, payment processing, email campaigns, etc.

But even if a software solution has every feature under the sun, if they’re difficult or confusing to learn/use, they’re not much use! Quality-of-life is a fundamentally important ‘feature’ as well, but a difficult one to know how to evaluate from the outset.

The best way to make sure that you have a proper understanding of your needs, and evaluate a software’s ability to impact quality-of-life, is to continue to adjust your understanding of needs?while you shop for software.

Your current software has had a big impact on how you work, and how you work has a big impact on your understanding of what you need from software! As you evaluate new software solutions, demo’s and free trials will expose you to new – and likely better – ways to manage your members. Take advantage of this exposure, as it’s a great opportunity to rethink exactly what you need from membership management software.

Beware Feature List’s and RFP Criteria

Your current software has a big impact on your understanding of just what you need from new software. If you’re not careful, it’s easy to make the mistake of investing your time and energy shopping for and adopting new software, only to have all the same problems!

By expecting yourself to have a comprehensive understanding of what you need?before you even start shopping, you prevent yourself from learning about and taking advantage of new features and techniques. Committing too hard to your?current understanding undermines your ability to develop a?better one, and prevents you from enjoying any of the benefits of innovation.

Managing Change

Change-management is one of the most important aspects of adopting new software, and can be one of the most intimidating ones.

After you’ve selected a new membership management system, you’ve got to manage organizational change. Transferring contact records, learning new tools, and ensuring that your member’s experience isn’t interrupted, is a tall order. This is why it’s so important to evaluate how sensitive a membership-management software company is to helping you make this transition a smooth one.

Import Tools and Techniques

Often (but not always) membership management software providers will offer importing tools that will allow you to quickly (but not always conveniently!) transfer your current member/contact database to the new system.

If an import tool is offered, don’t be so quick to check it off your list of requirements! There is a big difference between a bad import and a good one, so evaluating the quality of an import ought to be an important part of your shopping process.

If an import tool?isn’t offered, don’t be so quick to consider this a mark against a software platform! Import tools are only one way to fill software with member data, and different companies may have different approaches. Committing to a bullet point on a feature list prevents you from ever becoming aware of them, or enjoying their benefits!

Beware Onboarding Programs

Onboarding is expensive, and only offers value to your organization in certain circumstances. Paying thousands for onboarding?might be enough to train current membership managers, but the investment only offers value so long as they stay around! If your organization has even a remote employee turnover, you only enjoy the benefit onboarding until new employee’s need to be trained. Additionally, if your membership management software is subject to frequent updates (and it should be!), training is only relevant until software undergoes a significant change!

In 2019, traditional onboarding is only one of many methods to adopt software. In certain circumstances, it can be right for your organization, but do not get caught in the trap of considering it a necessary expense. When shopping for membership management software, be sure to also be on the lookout for a quality knowledgebase and learning content.

An alternative to onboarding, knowledge-bases ought to be consistently updated and refined to reflect the current state of a software system. Convenient search-systems ought to immediately connect you with learning content to solve specific issues as you encounter them. Guides and tutorials ought to be easy to follow, and reflect the current-state of a given platform.

With a quality knowledgebase, your organization can not only bypass the need to invest in expensive traditional onboarding, but be confident that it’s membership-management team will never lose it’s ability to competently get value from it’s ongoing investment in software!

Get Started Shopping

Shopping for membership management software isn’t an easy or short process – but it doesn’t have to be an intimidating one.

Whether evaluating the tools you use to manage your members is a high priority or a low one, it pays to be aware of whats available on the market. When you’re comfortable shopping for software, you’re able to keep your finger on the pulse of membership management technology, and ensure that the tools you use every day aren’t undermining your ability to succeed at work!

Whether it’s signing up for free trials, guided demonstrations, or simply checking out the websites of membership management software providers – exposing yourself to the current state of technology can open your eyes to the opportunities available to you!

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