Convergence — a big word, that you probably haven’t thought about since prepping for the SATs, but one that could save you a ton of money.
Most organizations start out with the basics: an email app, a calendar program (probably part of your email) and word processing software of some kind. If you are more technologically advanced you may have stand-alone event software, a web site designer and/or host, and content management software or access database. Maybe you even have a donation or dues collection program. As the organization (and operating budget) expands, new pieces of technology are added.
Whether you acquire them from vendors at a trade show or through friends of friends, what was once a simple software shop has now morphed into a complex, cumbersome group of programs which were not designed to work together; provide no continuity and are often-times redundant; involve multiple trainings; multiple upgrades and dealing with multiple vendors. What if things could be simple again without sacrificing functionality? What is that worth? Your organization may be running in upwards of seven different pieces that, upon combining, could yield cost and manpower savings.
Unlike organizational restructuring, you can realize the benefits of convergence quickly and cost-effectively through a product that offers membership management software and an online member community.
If the technology behind your organization and/or its social media strategy is pieced-together you may be over-complicating your member management. Often, a patch-work approach to online membership management can feature several disparate tools such as:
- Offline database to handle member data
- Email list for your marketing
- Email marketing services to distribute your message
- Stand-alone event management system
- Fundraising and/or donations systems
- Website (with hosting)
- Shopping cart for ecommerce efforts and dues collection
- Survey tools to engage your members
- Web calendars
- and more!
Often, you may discover that a la carte solutions/prices do not always provide the most cost-savings. Creating a private online member community that includes social media components as well as web-based membership management software is easier than you might think, and it can help you:
Reduce costs. Separate software licenses, training, hardware and maintenance can be costly when you are working on different platforms and with different vendors. Consolidating these efforts to one robust software package may provide the cost savings you are searching for. Add up the charges (monthly fees, support charges and service requirements) for each component currently in use. You might be surprised at the dollar cost – and the efficiency lost.
Increase efficiency. Besides the efficient workflow that occurs when using a product with components designed to work together, you now have only one logon, one vendor to contact with questions, and one stop for training and one member database. There’s one interface, one set of directions and one partner in your success. Plus with one system running everything, you have one dashboard to retrieve valuable data in all areas.
Also, older applications may not be designed with today’s important social networking features in mind. The complete social media and membership management solution helps you maximize your web presence and modernize your social media offerings.
Plus the ease of use of the software available, the diminished learning curve (in having only one system to learn) and plans with unlimited training make for a seamless integration into your social media plans and organizational mission.
Increase offerings/value. It’s time that your organization capitalizes on its knowledge and experience and disseminates this information to your constituents in the most efficient manner. Give them access to you through vast content offerings. When considering membership management software, look for something that provides the extras (at no additional cost) such as the ability to create file libraries and upload multi-media files like MP3s, PowerPoint Presentations, video tours and seminars. Providing easy access to valuable information they can’t get elsewhere is a great way to encourage your members to log in and with software as a service (SaaS), they can do so on their schedule. Plus the security of a private online community means you have peace of mind regarding your documents and videos. And since content is more highly prized with comment, look for offerings that allow member voting and favorites on their profile. Allowing for interaction with content makes your constituents feel more valued.
Increase morale. In addition to creating a feature-rich community for your members it is also important to seek out a solution that provides efficient tools for your administrator(s). System-wide reporting tools, data import and export, and ease-of-use all help your internal staff perform their duties more effectively and in less time. And because there is only one system to learn, training is easier as well. And an empowered staff is a happier, healthier staff!
The technology to meet all of your management and community needs is out there and could possibly save you money when you factor in what you spend for each individual piece of your system. Put an end to your work-arounds and select software that integrates all you want to accomplish in one, user-friendly solution. An all-inclusive membership management software solution can consolidate your organization efforts, increase your efficiency and maximize your opportunities through a feature-rich online community that remains under your control while it showcases your branding.