Software is at the core of everything your organization does. Almost every task you perform requires you to use it, so using one that your needs ought to be a fundamental priority for every member-driven organization.
But evaluating the quality of software is a difficult, confusing process. Your needs are complex, and so too are the software platforms than can meet them. Fortunately, there are some fundamental considerations that can have a big impact on guiding your understanding, and help you cut to the core of what really makes membership management software valuable.
Organizations that thrive as a result of their software understand that buying software shouldn’t be about features, but rather the benefits software can provide. When evaluating your membership management software, or other platforms you might be interested in using – keep these basic considerations in mind:
1. Time is money, and software means more of it
The right membership management software can save a member-driven organization thousands by automating and streamlining common processes like applications and renewals. By automating forms, payments, renewals, registrations, etc, membership management software is like having an entire floor of specialist membership managers working round-the-clock to take care of administration.
With administration taken care of, actual membership managers can focus their time on the work that software can’t do. With time freed from processing forms, emails, payments, etc, it can be re-invested in what really matters – developing relationships with current and new members!
The best membership management software not only gives you time, but a host of tools that allows you to get more value out of every second saved! With applications, renewals, and other tasks taken care of, what work is left to you as a membership manager? Make a quick list of tasks, and investigate to see if a platform offers tools that can help you get more value from those!
2. Financial management is more than credit cards processing
The ability to process credit cards is a basic function that every membership-management software platform should offer as standard.
What really matters isn’t so much if they process credit cards and other payments, so much as how they do it?
Dealing with the payment isn’t enough. How well does your software handle invoice management, automated payments, accounts receivable, accounts payable, reporting, etc?
The power of financial tools is important to consider when evaluating your membership management software. Your software ought to make financial management a breeze, putting all the tools and reports you need at your fingertips so you can save time when managing finances and payments. If your software forces you to perform time-consuming workarounds to get it to work the way you’d like, it might be a good idea to ask if another system would do the job the way you’d like it!
3. Free software is expensive
‘Free’ software costs a lot. It’s nice to get instant access to helpful tools, but over time, the costs of these platforms can reveal themselves as not worth the benefit of bypassing a monthly subscription.
Free software is certainly an easy solution, but it comes with an insidious cost known as technical debt.
Designed to meet the needs of broad audiences, free software can have the insidious effect of requiring you to adapt your organizational processes to a system not designed for your needs. This can make common tasks take a less efficient than they would with better software.
Picking free software may be a solution to your organization’s current needs, but those needs are going to change! By adapting the way you work to fit free software, you make switching to a better solution in the future a difficult – and expensive – prospect.
It may be the case that the savings you enjoy for free software may justify the future cost of switching to paid software – but it’s important to recognize that though it doesn’t require a monthly subscription – free software isnt free!
4. The right membership management software pays for itself
If your membership management software doesn’t create more revenue for your organization than it costs, it’s worth re-evaluating. One of the great things about the subscription model offered by most membership management software companies is that every month (or year, depending on your term) you have a solid benchmark to evaluate your subscription.
The monthly fee for your software doesn’t change, but the applications/renewals you process ought to! How many more of them are you enjoying as a result of the software you’re using? If your software isn’t boosting revenue to justify it’s costs, it’s not difficult to switch to a platform that will!
5. Software is a service, not a product
It’s intuitive to think of membership management software as a product, but in truth, it’s a service. Member-driven organizations that get the most from their software recognize that their monthly subscription isn’t just about accessing software, but rather a team of people dedicated to their success.
When we go to a restaurant, we’re buying more than just food. We’re looking to have a positive experience, and pay a staff of professionals to provide it to us.
When shopping for and using membership management software, it pays to have the same attitude.
Your monthly subscription is not about access to software you use, but rather access to a team of professionals dedicated to you success. It’s their job to provide a certain experience, and it’s important to hold your monthly subscription dollars to that standard.
Your monthly fee should include quality access to quality support, a constantly updated knowledge base, a development team that is continually refining and updating their platform!
6. Support makes all the difference
It doesn’t matter what membership management software you’re using. You will have problems, and support will make-or-break your ability to solve them.
How is support from the service/services you use? When shopping for software, did you consider support as something you ought to evaluate before buying?
If support hasn’t entered into your mind when thinking about how much you like your software, you ought to place it front and centre! When you have issues, support resources like these ought to be available at your fingertips:
If you have a problem, your service ought to offer a quality knowledgebase you can use to find a solution. Finding the guides you need should require no more than a search term and a few clicks!
When the knowledgebase doesn’t offer the information you need, it should be a trivially easy process to get in touch with someone that can help you. Filing a ticket and waiting days for response is unacceptable in 2019! If you can’t click a button and immediately start talking with someone who can help, consider taking a look at software platforms that offer better support.