By Chris Landis, Vice President, Finance and Operations
As a decision maker in any organization, one of the most important decisions you make for the health and success of your association is related to the tools and technology in which to invest. Whether you are leading a Fortune 500 business, a professional association or a local Chamber of Commerce, the choice you make will have lasting implications on your staff, your budget, and the way you run your organization.
As an association management software company, WebLink has chosen to exclusively offer Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) to our prospective and existing customers because of the many benefits it offers them when compared to traditional software. We run the core of our business using WebLink Connect, our own premier SaaS member management software, but we have also made the decision to augment WebLink Connect by selecting other Sofware-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers to help us get the most out of specific areas of our business.
Here are the primary reasons WebLink has remained committed to SaaS for both our own products and those we select as partners:
- Remain focused on your core mission. By definition, SaaS software is a hosted solution and saves you the trouble of having to maintain infrastructure and complete upgrades. This should all be managed behind the scenes by your association software partner and saves your team time to focus on the core mission or your organization.
- Ability to take advantage of regular enhancements. Healthy SaaS companies are regularly making updates and enhancements to their software. These enhancements should become available to all users – ideally without additional cost or expense!
- Universal access. Hosted member management software solutions give you the ability to access your software and membership data from anywhere. You don’t have to be connected to a local network and can have it with you when you are out of the office.
I would not, however, tell you that all SaaS software products are created equal. I would encourage you to critically evaluate your options by paying particular attention to the following:
- Be sure your partner has a proven track record. There are many SaaS start-ups and the competition in association management software can be fierce. You don’t want to partner with someone that is likely to fail or quickly be gobbled up by a competitor and force you to migrate to an unwanted system. Make sure you see evidence of a solid base of customers who have had success using the technology.
- Be sure to look under the hood. Many SaaS technology providers are able to create a user-friendly demo or interface, but that is just what you see on the surface. Be sure that is also supported by great membership data and reporting. Since you can only manage what you measure, you need to be sure the system can provide you with the visibility into your membership database to measure results.
- Be sure your potential partner is not a traditional software company in disguise. Many traditional software companies have realized the migration that is occurring to SaaS technology. They have either bought or built a SaaS product to sell to customers. However, they will not be able to invest as heavily in maintaining and enhancing those products because they also have to support their existing traditional software products and customers.
If your plans for 2013 include making a new membership management technology decision, I wish you the best in your selection process and great success with adopting that software to achieve your organizational objectives. If you're interested in learning more about questions to ask before selecting an association managment software provider, read this blog by Travis Tetrault, Membership Management Specialist.
Questions about SaaS software? Let us know!