There’s rarely, if ever, a perfect software solution to a complex organizational problem. It’s not often you’ll happen upon the one perfect setup or workflow that’s optimally effective and efficient than any other. Reaching for perfection is an exercise in futility, but that doesn’t mean we can’t strive to improve the way we do things: we can always question whether the way we do something is the way it has to be done.
As a membership manager, not matter which software you use, invariably your choice will influence the way you organize information, carry out daily tasks, and seek progress towards your larger goals.
Problems arise when the routines we’ve developed around our software become primarily about accommodating their limitations. Its not difficult to – somewhere along the line – forget that software is supposed to work around us, not the other way around.
Membership managers experience this all-too often. Its common to establish a wide range of distinct tools and systems to manage our members. Mailchimp, Excel, EventBrite, and more are all useful – but not designed for membership management specifically.
Whether you’re tired of manually updating spreadsheets, ready to consolidate several different systems and accounts into one, or perfectly content with the way you do any of your work, you should always be aware of the advantages of using a software system designed to work around you, and not one you feel you’ve got to work around.
Here are some of the advantages you can expect from switching to a software platform that offers everything you need in one place:
Think Beyond the Office
One of the biggest advantages of consolidating everything into one suite is that the portability of your set-up reaches an all-time high: one login gets you into the interface that lets you manage everything at once! These systems are designed to not rely on locally-saved files and resources, and make it easy to find stored information on the fly regardless of how far from the office you are.
With communication technology being so varied and ubiquitous, keeping in the loop while you’re on the move is the only other thing you need to work from anywhere in the world.
The other really nice thing about using a single service for everything is that when you do get some time to relax, you can just check your alerts once, then log out once and be done with it, instead of noticing something else you need to do as you check over and log out of every service at the end of the night. All in all, consolidating your tools in one toolbox makes it easy to pick them up – and to put them away after, too.
Forget User Error
The realization that you’ve missed a payment or other deadline is often a sickening one. We try our best, but sometimes tasks and priorities slip through the cracks, and the question of how much you can afford to make such a mistake is a question you want to ask early, not in hindsight.
A big draw of membership management software is that it significantly reduces the potential for human error to become the cause of a break in your workflow or a failure in your processes. Payments and invoices can be made to be issued automatically, on schedules that work for you; information that needs to be moved from one list to another won’t be lost because someone didn’t highlight the last line on a spreadsheet.
The power of automated processes comes as much from precision as it does from anything else – the use of information technology helps make up for the shortcomings of people, who may try their best but still can let things slip through the cracks in a way that machines won’t. If you leave the responsibility of remembering a payment to a computer instead of a person, there’s no chance for the computer to have a bad morning, get stuck in traffic, forget to drink its coffee, or anything else that will impair its performance and interfere with its role in a larger operation.
Using software and other automated processes isn’t just a matter of saving labour – it’s a good business decision, because it means that the promises you make to your customers are clients are just that much more ironclad against any incident or accident.
Make your Workforce Flexible
If you’re using multiple applications to get things done – suppose you’re using SurveyMonkey for polls, some other platform for online testing, and then updating member records yourself through a spreadsheet – then you’re costing yourself a lot of time and effort. We don’t just mean in terms of what it takes to coordinate your efforts and information across multiple platforms – there’s also a time investment involved in getting your coworkers and staff up to date and familiarized with all of those platforms!
You can’t just hand someone the passwords and let them do all the work, either – whether you realize it or not, you’ve probably got a lot of practiced expertise that lets you move between those platforms without a lot of effort, so you may not realize just how intimidating it might be for a newcomer or for someone who has to take over during your vacation!
That’s another reason why a single-login, all-purpose membership management software suite is a good idea – onboarding and training become incredibly easy, as you only have to educate the people you work with on one platform. Plus, software suites like that always come with a variety of support options, from in-app chat windows to phone support lines; if they’ve really got their operation in order, they’ll have an easy-to-use knowledge base designed to walk you through the platform and explain how to use every one of its functions.
If there’s already an article for the feature you’re trying to train someone else to use, spare yourself the time and ask if your staff can get what they need from the knowledge base. The people who create these tools have a vested interest in making them as easy to use as possible, so you should take advantage!
Streamline Your Workload
The bottom line is that using membership management software is a great way to streamline the work you do into simple, predictable processes that mesh well together because they’re designed to do just that – to unify all of the unique functions you have to carry out as a membership manager, and to make them as accessible and intuitive as possible.
By consolidating all your contact data in a single system, and offering a host of tools that can contribute to, and draw from, that data – the bulk of management is subtracted from your work load. No longer will you ever have to worry about sharing data between systems. Email signups feed contact info to your contact record, which is accessible when creating email campaigns, which send forms allowing members to sign up, which automatically creates a member portal account, and so on. Instead of managing each of those processes manually, you can enjoy the benefits of automation, and focus on the work that creates value!