How to Choose the Right Association Management Software
You go to great lengths to ensure that your association stands out as a model group, attracts members who agree with its objectives, and achieves its goals. One of the easiest ways to accomplish these things is to set up a full-featured website—based on the right association management software for you. Use these tips to set yourself up with the right association management software package that can help you build the website you really need.
Decide what you need
It’s difficult, if not impossible, to choose the right association management software for your group’s website if you don’t know what you need it to do in the first place. That’s why the very first thing step to take toward creating a successful association website is to make a list of all the things you want from it. Bear in mind that every group is different, and what suits your group might be too much or not enough for another organization.
If you share responsibility for group leadership with others who help you administer your group’s affairs, sit down together for a thorough conversation about what each of you envisions as must-have features for your association website. Correlate the features that everyone values, as well as the ones that only a few people seem to think are important. Not only does this exercise help you clarify what you want, but it also helps you build the laundry list of features you’ll seek when you start to research association management software providers.
Take a two-pronged approach to your pre-site building research, and you’ll give yourself every advantage you need for a successful result. First, take a look at the websites of other groups with a similar focus, comparable size, or some other aspect or attribute in common. Examine how they’ve put their sites together, which features they find important, and any online capabilities that you’ve left off your list. What you discover may go a long way toward reaffirming the list of features you’ve already developed, or, alternatively, it may suggest things you’ve left out or cause you to reconsider things that you thought were essential.
Along with taking a well-rounded look at what other groups do online, research providers of association management software so you can see the range of features, pricing, attitudes, support offerings, and other criteria you can use to compare and contrast the options you find. What’s the basis for the pricing these providers offer? Do they group features together and charge you more for access to more of them, or do they simply bill based on how many members you have? What kinds of fees do they charge for things like online credit card payments of association dues? How flexible is their software, how committed are they to keeping it up to date, and how thoroughly do they implement true security? As you build a list or fill out a spreadsheet of comparisons, you’ll start to see patterns in the data, and you’ll begin to prioritize the providers you discover.
Gather your assets
Once you know what kind of a site you want and begin to narrow down your list of potential association management software providers, it’s time to pull together the assets you’ll need to incorporate into your website. These can include everything from carefully proofread writeups of your vision and goals to photographs taken at group events and documents that you share with new members when they sign on.
Yes, you’ll probably get partway through the process of building your website and then discover certain items that you want to include but don’t currently have, but that doesn’t mean you can’t aggregate most of the materials you need before you get started. It’s all about efficiency.
Of course, if you already have a website and are planning a new one as a replacement, you’re likely to have material on your current site that you want to migrate to the new one. It’s a lot easier and more convenient to download any documents and images into a centralized location on your computer so you have everything in one place. That makes it easier to pick and choose among your current materials and to prioritize what you do or do not want to carry over to your new site.
Whether you’re a small group with an equally small leadership board, or you’re the head of a website development committee with a short list of members, you may not want to tackle all the tasks of website design and setup by yourself. If you decide to delegate some of these tasks to your colleagues, verify that they have the time and the interest, and then draw up a clear list of each person’s responsibilities. Remember that association management software typically is built to expect that only one person at a time works on each specific area within the administrative back end of the site or within the design and development area that creates the actual pages and their content. Otherwise, two people may try to do the equivalent of saving the same file at the same time.
Try before you buy in
Before you commit to using a particular provider, test out their association management software and ensure that it truly meets your needs. Will the provider offer you a free trial? Do their customers rate them highly, and do their reviews provide detailed, positive comments that give you a detailed picture of why they like this particular provider’s offerings?
When you look for a free trial from association management package providers, you’ll quickly discover that most providers in this software category don’t offer any. They may have an online demo, but that’s not the same as being able to enter your own data and “road test” the software for yourself. When you choose Membershine as your association management software provider, we offer you a 15-day free trial with no credit card required. We want you to test out our software, see our robust feature set for yourself, experiment, and find out why we believe that we offer you the best alternative at the best price.