Whether you’re buying your first home or renting an apartment for the first time, it’s likely that you’ll run into unexpected costs and it’s up to you to adapt based on your needs in order to keep moving the process forward.
The same can be said when purchasing new membership software for your association. While there are numerous ways to keep costs down, it’s also good to be aware that there are some unavoidable costs that should be taken into account.
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Take your staff into account
One of the biggest costs associated with implementing new membership software is your staff, and one of the factors you’ll need to consider is how many licenses to purchase. Ideally, you’d want to purchase licenses for everyone at your organization. By providing all staff members a license, you are allowing everyone to see a true picture of the health of the organization and to drill down into detail across departments. They can see membership numbers, revenue drivers, and other useful data points to help drive member engagement.
Another thing to consider when you’re determining who should be licensed is that some systems offer bulk pricing for purchasing more licenses up front. However, if you start small and then add more licenses later, they might be at the original list price. So it’s important to know who’s going to be in the system and who you might have in the system as you use more of it later down the road. As you’re interacting with your vendor, you should ask him/her to provide you a cost analysis of the different license types and a comparison of buying them upfront versus adding them later.
In addition, some systems offer different license types that cost different amounts. For example, you’re typical day-to-day employee who is processing orders, looking up data, maintaining records, and having contact logs—that’s probably the overwhelming majority of your users, will come at a lower cost than a developer that has full access to configure the system and to add new functionality. Some systems break down the employee license type even further. Be sure to have accurate counts of who needs to be in the system and what their role in the system will be.
And with some systems, your employees are not the only licensed system users. Your member or non-member customers are, too. Some systems offer an unlimited number of customers in the system, and some have tiered pricing based on the number of external members. Having an accurate user count and anticipated growth over the next five or so years can help avoid unexpected costs if you’re upfront about that with the system that you’re investigating.
Everyone in the system is going to be doing something that helps run your organization. If staff members know how to use the system, then they can execute their job better. And you will realize a greater return on the investment in that system by having the people using the system properly. If your users don’t know how to use the software, processes can get bogged down. In turn, employees will have a change in attitude and will start to dislike the system. Mistakes will be made. Ultimately, you could end back up where you started. This is why training is critical to success. And you need to be prepared for a training element.
With any vendor you choose, it’s important to train the end users, administrators, and the developers so that everyone knows how to use the system specific to their role. Here’s where you need to be careful though. Some systems include the training as part of the implementation process. They forgo formal training for learning as you go. Now, others offer formal training. Make sure that you understand which type of training proposal a membership software that you’re investigating is offering. And if they do offer formal training, you want to be sure to find out whether it’s offered for a cost that is based on per seat or per class.
Don’t forget about your employees
Keep in mind, there is also an indirect cost of your employees. And this one’s a little harder to quantify, but it’s just as crucial to consider. Implementations of this scale can typically range from 9 – 12 months, and they require every user to be in the system, setting it up and testing delivered functionality. All the while, they have to do their day-to-day job. It’s critical that management at the top sets the expectation that this is an organizational priority. And, hopefully, that should help to lead to staff buy-in.
You also want to make sure your staff is involved in every aspect because this will lead to the most successful implementations. As a result, other productivity might fall or regular day-to-day work might take a little longer than it normally does. Be aware of this and know that other solutions, such as hiring temps to do some of the more mundane tasks, might be the best idea to facilitate the implementation and to make sure that your staff doesn’t get bogged down.
Celebrate your wins
Implementing a robust software is a huge time committment and organizational priority that should be at the top of everyone’s minds. And it’s important to take the time to celebrate milestones along the way of the implementation, whether they’re big or small. And you can work with your AMS software partner to come up with creative ways to celebrate the milestones.
For example, here at Aptify, with one of our clients, we worked with them to come up with a theme for every win and for every onsite visit. We chose different movies for each milestone and each onsite visit. And then each time we achieved a milestone or went onsite with the client, everyone got dressed up in a way that reflected the movie. We created posters. We ate pizza. It was just a different way to have fun and to celebrate the steps along the way. And sometimes the simplest ideas have the biggest effect.
And along these lines, determine internally which employees are the best to lead the change and the positivity. Having them be “change champions” can help generate buy-in from those who are struggling with the work and the changes. One thing that some of our clients have had success with is to include the AMS software implementation in their employees’ job descriptions for the year the implementation takes place. That way, it’s overwhelmingly clear that a successful go-live is everyone’s responsibility and should be at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
Do you have more questions on what else goes into the pricing of membership software? Download our AMS Pricing Toolkit to learn more!