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Membership Software Evaluation Brief

Membership Software Evaluation Brief

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Published by Online Registration
This technology brief reviews five key things to review when evaluating member management software and member database software for your clubs, association or non-profit member-based organization.
This technology brief reviews five key things to review when evaluating member management software and member database software for your clubs, association or non-profit member-based organization.

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Published by: Online Registration on Jan 21, 2009
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06/16/2009

 
Copyright © 2009 • Compete-At.com • 4905 Del Ray Avenue Suite 507 Bethesda MD 20814 • 240-497-0037
Membership Management Technology Brief 
Five Things to Consider When Choosing a Technology Solution
Key Functionality
Below are key features to considerwhen evaluating membermanagement technology solutions.
Online Sign-Up and Payments
New member sign-up should besimple and configurable to satisfyyour needs. Online credit cardpayment processing is necessary.
Real-Time Member Profiles
A common problem is keepingmember’s personal data updated.Any technology solution should beable to demonstrate how memberdata is kept fresh throughout thelifetime of a member.
Configurable Database
Be sure you can easily add datafields to meet the changing needsof unique needs of yourorganization.
Member Communications
The system should foster membercommunications through easy touse Email tools using automatedand scheduled messages.
Surveys & Elections
Polling your members is key tokeeping you in touch with the pulseof your membership. If you have ageographically disperse group,conducting online elections is alsocritical when in-person electionsare not feasible.
Event Registration
Most member organizations alsomanage member events. Be surethere is integrated eventregistration capabilities.
Technology Landscape
There’s an overwhelming array of software options available today for member-basedorganizations in need of streamlining management of daily operations. These range fromsimple desktop applications to custom built software requiring robust infrastructures anddatabase back-ends. Luckily for most organizations, the solution lies somewhere in themiddle. Below are five things to keep in mind during your technology evaluation.
1
Ease of Use
If you need a team of techies to help you manage the software that’s supposed to bemaking your organization more efficient, then it’s a step in the wrong direction. Afteryour initial setup, there should be very little need for technical support. Some questionsyou should ask yourself during the evaluation are as follows; Is it easy to navigate thesoftware? When I look at a screen, do I know what to do next? During yourevaluation, it’s a good idea to have more than one key user test drive the software.
Don’t be Distracted with “Bells & Whistles”
Many times, bells & whistles included in software could adversely effect the purchasedecision. Don’t let the “cool” features deter you from your primary goal – finding asolution that can meet 80-90% of your membership management software needs out of the box. When evaluating software, complete the attached priority worksheet. This willgive you a number rating for each evaluation in which the “must have” functionality isweighed more heavily then less important features.
Total Cost of Ownership
There’s an ongoing trend in the software industry to migrate to a Software-as-a-Service(SaaS) model. The SaaS model essentially eliminates any internal infrastructure costs,hardware costs and upgrade costs. Additionally, most SaaS solutions are turnkey, Thismeans that after a simple setup process and some configuration, you’re ready to go. Ahosted software solution eliminates installation costs, and unnecessary in-housetechnical assistance. When evaluating SaaS solutions, be sure to inquire about anyhidden costs, training costs, setup costs, and ongoing maintenance costs.
Security
Your members entrust you with their personal data. Small homegrown solutionstypically do not meet the stringent requirements necessary for enterprise software. Onthe other hand, a custom built solution with proper security will often come with aheavy price tag. Be sure to examine the security procedures and policies, bothelectronic and physical, for all the software solutions you are evaluating.
Training & Support
The software solution driving your membership should provide a way for you toanswer questions yourself through readily available self-help resources such as forums,blogs, instructional videos, user newsletters, etc. Inquire about each of these and beleery of primary support handled through 1-800 numbers. A heavy emphasis oncommunity driven help resources is a good sign. If it seems difficult to find support onthe website, then it should be a red flag. Software training should be brief and free. If training takes more than 30-60 minutes to learn how to perform key interactions withyour new membership software solution, it should also be a red flag.
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Conclusion
Finding a solution that is simple, easy to “turn-on” and can meet 80-90% of your immediateneeds is paramount for success. Every organization has unique needs, so use this as a startingpoint to narrow down your selection. Additional points to consider are as follows; viability of the company, international support, migrating your existing member data and productscalability. For a free evaluation of your membership needs please contact us.

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