5 Horrific Ways to Royally Mess Up a Membership Software Implementation

Months ago you realized it was time for new membership software—your staff couldn’t easily run reports, you didn’t trust the data you had to make solid decisions, the interface was confusing and, let’s face it, kind of ugly. So you went out and found a better option, got board approval, signed the contract, and are ready to implement.Membership software implementation

Implementation is the final hurdle before you can breathe that sigh of relief and put a system change behind you. But rest and relaxation (ok, maybe it’s not that euphoric, but at least the chance to not constantly think about changing systems) will only get further away if you fall into some common implementation pitfalls.

It’s possible. Implementation can be done on time and without disaster when you follow best practices and know what to expect. Learn the ins and outs in The Ultimate Guide to Implementing Membership Software.

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If you’re looking for the perfect way to drag out a membership software implementation, lose your hair, and kiss a good night’s rest good-bye, follow these heartbreaking steps:

1. Cling to the Past

Membership software implementation | pastA great way to undermine your efforts is to resist change and not face the problems you have with the current system. So often, we get used to the “old way” of doing things that it’s easier to live with the workaround than to acknowledge the issue and find a better way.

Spend time defining exactly what you want changed or what you’d like to see improved. Yes, this might turn into one big complaint session, but it’s necessary to get every concern out in the open (and might provide a chance to get all those negative feelings out, too). Then, discuss exactly what problems you want solved with your vendor. They’ve been there and done that and so can suggest proven solutions.

It’s key to keep an open mind and work with the change rather than against it. Sure, there will be a learning curve, but remember that there’s a reason you decided to move systems in the first place. Staying open to change is crucial to setting the right tone through the implementation process.

2. Keep It Small & Siloed

Establishing the right team can save you time and money on your implementation. Want to really screw that up? Decide to limit the number of people who are “in the know” and then let them focus on their own needs without communicating with each other.

A strong team, on the flip side, is made up of people from all departments. Input—and, when the time comes, testing—from across the organization is essential, because each team and department has different needs, processes, and problems to address. Get input from everyone, and then allow an informed committee to make an educated decision, keeping everyone’s issues in mind.

Then, within that team, keep the lines of communication open. From the technical team to the executive sponsor, you’ll want everyone to establish a regular rhythm with one another, so that information can be shared, roadblocks can be identified, and expectations can be set and met.

3. Operate in a Vacuum

Membership software implementation | frustratedWhy set the scene for success within the entire organization when you can spring a new system on them at the last minute? Who doesn’t like surprises, right?

When it’s time to implement new membership software, you’ll need to master the psychology of change management in the same way. Begin by creating the realization of the need to change with the entire organization. Why are the changes necessary? What was wrong with the current system and what will you achieve with the new one? Once you’ve identified the “whys” behind the change, you can use those reasons to drive the motivation for teams to embrace the new software and push forward with the procedural changes that your new system inevitably will bring.

Frequent and open collaboration means that everyone should take advantage of expressing themselves. During the process, it’s important for all parties to clearly articulate their needs and ask as many questions as necessary. As you go, if something comes up that doesn’t feel quite right or if something needs to be added, bring it to light immediately and make sure staff feels comfortable doing this as well. It’s better to voice your concerns as soon as they arise than wait until the eleventh hour or, worse yet, not voice them at all.

Organizational buy-in isn’t crucial to an implementation. It’s certainly possible to get a system up and running with just a few people running the process. But the success of the implementation and the longevity of the product being able to do what’s necessary are critical to everyone having a stake in the project.

4. Depend on Dirty Data

Does your current system have old data? Duplicate data? Data you haven’t needed, used, looked at, or even thought about since Seinfeld debuted? Move it on over to the new system—what could possibly go wrong?

A new membership management system can streamline business processes, consolidate your data, and give you better insight into your organization and its membership base. But here’s something to keep in mind, although it does help you manage your organization, you and your team still are still responsible for maintaining what’s inside it. Data plays a big part in understanding your membership better, but any system is only as good as the data entered into it.

Just like you spend time doing the laundry before you pack for vacation, it’s advisable to clean your data before moving it to its new system. From getting rid of duplicates to purging inaccurate historical data, you’ll have a tidier set of data to move if you clean it up in the source system. Be sure to establish a data cleansing plan so that the data you enter is correct, complete, and not duplicated. Then, put steps into place to assure that the data remains accurate after the system is up and running.

5. Expect a Silver Bullet Solution

Software isn’t a magic cure that can fix all the world’s problems. It’s a remedy for automating well-designed processes and making the work more efficient.

Don’t go into an implementation thinking that it’s going to be an elixir to fix all woes and expect not to have to make other changes. While new technology can improve your processes in leaps and bounds, it can’t fix every issue out there. Staff need to be trained on the new system and stay current on the changes going on in the industry. A staff that embraces change is better equipped to evolve with its members’ changing needs.

It’s possible. Implementation can be done on time and without disaster when you follow best practices and know what to expect. Learn the ins and outs in The Ultimate Guide to Implementing Membership Software.

Implementing Membership Software

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