Software may seem like a commodity today but culture and support is not
Vendor partner culture matters!
In today’s association software market, there are a considerable amount of options. In fact, we have insights into over 50 association management software providers who we follow in order to be sure that we are up to date and able to find the right solution for our clients.
Having said that, each software provider has it’s own “uniqueness” which makes them different than the alternatives. However, it is not always features that make a vendor partner solution better and the right for your organization. If you have found yourself in a decision between two software options (which are very similar and seem to offer comparable features) how will your organization decide?
If you have performed a thorough search process, defined your requirements, included all stakeholders, and truly partnered with the vendors in the discovery, the final tipping point may indeed be the culture and environment of the software vendor which will no doubt impact the support your partner is able to provide initially and long term.
Association Nonprofit Management Software today may seem like a commodity to you but culture is not. Commoditization is something that happens to every successful industry eventually—success attracts attention, and there is always a competitor willing to offer a lower price to compensate for a lesser known brand or “good enough” quality, as well as customers to whom price means more than brand, quality, or anything else the high end providers have to offer them.
To be sure, we do not believe association nonprofit software is a commodity but it’s hard for many evaluating software today to discern the difference between one option and the other. As a result, for some less experienced buyers they tend to lump software into being a commodity.
That noted, the way by which the company treats it’s employee, fosters a spirit of collaboration, and trains it’s staff is critical and should never be overlooked. Good support is essential to a good user experience and in order to provide good support a company’s culture must foster the importance of taking care of the client. Any non-trivial piece of software is going to result in questions that need to be answered and issues that need to be resolved.
So, in the selection process, what are some of the items to ask about or pick up during the process of evaluating your options? Here are several which come to mind:
What is the organizations mission statement?
Are they truly focused on your industry and committed to supporting it? Ex.Member of ASAE.
Do they foster a fun and innovative work environment for their staff?
What type of training does the organization provide to its team members?
Does the organization hire or have master certified engineers on staff?
Are the support staff certified?
What is the average length of employment at the firm for its team members?
Is the organization growing?
Does the organization have a cause which the company supports?
What type of perks does the company provide its employees? Ex. Vacation Vouchers, Flexible work schedules, time off.
Does the organization encourage continuing education?
Do you get the feeling the the organization is focused on a culture of “selling to someone” rather than solving business problems?
Admittedly, this is likely a tough area to evaluate during the selection process for most organizations. Therefore, you may find the experience of a software adviser to be warranted in your evaluation process. A skilled software advisers will take the time to understand your needs, understands the competitive landscape, and should have many years of experience in the association nonprofit market to aide in the journey.
However the information about culture and support is determined, we believe it is imperative to take the time to get to know your vendor partner on a more personal level before the selection is made.
If you would like more information on our methodology for the software selection process, please contact us. We are here to help!