Your organization will change in the future. What does this mean for the software you’re choosing today?
If anything is constant, it’s change. The past ten years has seen the rise of Uber, smartphones, hoverboards, and voice-controlled tech. The rapid pace of technological evolution means that to thrive in a disruptive environment, we need to be able to assess change and respond appropriately and quickly. Your membership software should be no exception. As you evaluate which software to buy—or even if you should be buying new software at all—you need to look at ALL the costs, and that includes the cost of change.
Consider the Upgrade
First, there’s the upgrade factor. If upgrades are free of charge, find out about costs for testing that upgrade and deploying that upgrade into your production system. Another critical factor is whether your system’s platform enables configuration or is limited to customization. If you customize the software, it will likely take you off the upgrade path. So you will need to rebuild when you go to upgrade, which adds substantial cost and time to the project.
As you narrow your software search, ask the vendors if they ever deploy changes that touch the underlying platform? If they do, know that this is customization that may have to be rebuilt in an upgrade.
You should also ask vendors for referrals to clients of a similar size and complexity that have recently completed upgrades. Then find out from them how much it costs. Be warned. Some vendors charge upward of $100K or more…just for an upgrade. That high cost is often because they are essentially performing a re-implementation to make their customizations compatible with newer features.
Take a Road Trip
Finally, look at the vendor’s product roadmap. Does the vendor have a history of innovation? Where do they see themselves going (and growing) over the next year? Three years? Decade? How are new features determined? Do they crowdsource ideas from their client base? Do they get feedback from association industry experts? If their product can’t keep up in the market, you’ll just need to switch software again. And that’s not a cost you want to have to swallow.
Of course, there’s more to membership software pricing than the long-term costs. To learn exactly what goes into pricing, how to save money on new software, and some tips on gaining board approval, check out our Pricing Toolkit.