In my car I have a satellite radio, GPS and CD player (that has not worked the same since my son decided pennies were just mini CDs and lip gloss made them slide in easier). The satellite radio and CD player are precariously perched on my dashboard as they are not factory installed, merely add-ons after my car purchase. Between all of those mechanisms and my half-working cell phone hands-free contraption, I can get through my hour commute with some level of entertainment and if I brake quickly, or make a sudden turn, it becomes even more entertaining as all of my gadgets go flying.
What I need, and what would make my driving life infinitely easier, is an integrated solution. Having satellite radio on my car radio and a GPS in (not on) my dash would free up some serious real estate, add a Bluetooth component to my radio and maybe, just maybe, I could get rid of my temperamental hands-free thingy. Who knows what amazing things these technology items could accomplish if only they were integrated? Hands-free conversation with my CD player to locate my fave songs or maybe I no longer need CDs I can go Mp3?? You see, I don’t know what I don’t know. I have no idea how much more efficient these tools could be in addressing my needs because none of them currently work together, nor were they designed to. I spend a sizeable amount of time in the car every day. Shouldn’t I be making the most of it?
But what holds me back? Why am I so hesitant to upgrade my life? Cost, I guess. I’m a mom. I’m cheap. I have a budget I have to stick to. My “wants” don’t seem like they matter as much as other more “important costs.” Plus I wonder will I really get the use out of it necessary to offset the expense?
But what if I decided I had to replace my car? What if it no longer worked for me? Then how would that change what I’m looking for?
If I’m already in the market for something new…maybe I’ve outgrown my existing vehicle, maybe it no longer runs with the speed and efficiency it once did, maybe I realize there are more reliable options out there. A needs assessment would be in order. If I could get the same — if not better — functionality for the same price, why wouldn’t I? What would I save to incorporate these features into a built-in solution (no more rattling around and piece-meal solutions)? What does it save in both time and energy for these features to be covered by one company? Am I still talking about a car?
It’s easy when looking at a budget and the cost of an item to write it off as “unattainable and not in the budget,” but if you do so, make sure you are looking at the item and eliminating any duplicate charges from your current budget. For instance ask yourself, if we bought x, would we still have to pay for y? Let’s leave my poor mini-van out of this and focus on membership management software.
Questions to ask (to flesh out lots o’ money in your already tight budget):
- Do you currently pay for an email system? If so, what are the costs associated with it?
- Do you have a CMS?
- Do you pay a designer to make updates to your website?
- Do you pay for hosting?
- Do you have to have additional servers to hold content?
- Do you expend large amounts of time (and, yes, time is money) calling each one of these vendors with questions or even to schedule additional training?
- Do you have to pay for this training?
- Do you dread replacing staff because it means additional cost in getting them trained with this vendor?
- Do these pieces of software require paid upgrades?
- Are they housed on your computers, meaning your system goes down and so does your content?
- What is data security and backup costing you in time and money?
- How many staff handle all of the different components of your current system?
- Do they work well together (the staff and the software)?
- Do you have to pay for user licenses?
- Can you change your design free at any time?
- Do you have to pay per usage (think emails sent, designs applied, etc.)?
- Do you do a lot of print work that could be eliminated, or scaled back, with online capabilities?
- Can you sell/donate any pieces you’ve been able to eliminate?
- Do you currently offer your members anything that you pay for with a third-party, even if it’s covered by them (such as individual websites/pages, print advertising, ecommerce/store)?
- What is efficiency worth to you?
Replacing multiple, disjointed software with one, integrated solution allows you to cut costs in your budget while creating a system that runs more efficiently. Training becomes easier, because you’re using one company. Understanding and mastering the software comes at a quicker rate because it is all interconnected. Pricing is understandable and there are no hidden aspects to consider when dealing with one complete solution. So whether we’re talking about my car — and all of the added dashboard denizens — or your membership management software, sometimes affording a solution is as simple as seeing what it brings to you and the effect(s) it will have on your day/business process. What costs are eliminated and what efficiencies are brought to you? Hmmmm, makes me want to revisit my budget.
photo credit: tuppus