There are lots of options when it comes to membership management software. But smaller organizations can sometimes feel left out. Many times the options are too expensive and loaded with features that just aren't needed. Or you're stuck using something cheap that lacks the integrations and features needed to really be effective.
However, at WebLink we believe there is a way to stay within budget, while still getting what you need from your membership management software. While many solutions are "one size fits all", there are vendors that offer a solution ideal for smaller organizations. Here's what smaller associations need to do to find the right solution.
- Prioritize. Before getting overwhelmed by features and pricing, figure out what you really need. Separate the “wants” list from what you absolutely must have. Your "needs" list should consist of those features that will save your organization the most time and money. This list will keep you focused throughout the process.
- Figure out what your members need and want. Don't forget to analyze the needs and wants of your members and if you don't know, ask them. What kind of information is helpful to them? What online features would they like to see from your association?
- Future growth. Membership management software isn't something you want to change often. So while a membership management software may be enough for now while another solution is a bit out of your budget, think about your plans for growth. The more expensive solution may be worth the extra investment if it helps you to meet your goals more quickly and has the ability to grow as you grow. A good rule of thumb is to think about whether or not the solution will meet your needs 5 years down the road.
- Get the real price. Sometimes the less expensive solutions have a price tag that looks great initially. But as you grow, need training, require support, or need an additional feature, the costs pile on. Be sure to ask about all the extras so you're accurately comparing vendors. Look at the cost of what you need today, in addition to the cost for what you think you'll need in 5 years.
- Value. While price is important, don't forget about value. Better software may help create efficiencies and do much more for your bottom line than selecting based on price alone.
- Integrations. Having to enter the same data into multiple systems can be a huge time waster. Be sure you factor in the time saved with a system that easily integrates with everything you need. Additionally, a more complete system may include features that replace some of the systems you're using now, creating cost savings in the long run.
- Consider the level of partnership. Especially if you've never shopped for association management software, you should be aware that you'll find options where you can simply sign up online, vendors who will consult with you through the entire process to help meet your goals, and everything in between. Consider your staff capabilities and the added value a consultative partnership can provide.
- Innovation. Ask each potential vendor about their development schedule so you know what features are coming down the road. Some vendors have a solution that stays pretty static while others are constantly innovating and adding features.