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Getting more from your member management software

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  • 1. Getting More from your Member Management Software:A practical guide for associations and chambers of commerceMember management software provides a wealth of information that helpsorganizations optimize backoffice and website operations as well as member services.While many of these programs are not difficult to use, what can be hard is figuring outhow to take full advantage of the softwares many capabilities. It’s not uncommon forpeople to use a very small percentage of the software’s features – creating a point offrustration for both user and vendor. Usage of Features and Functions in Typical System 45% Never Used 19% Rarely 13% Often 16% Sometimes 7% Always Source: Standish Group Study of 2000 projects at 1000 companiesHere are some recommendations that should help you get more from your investment1. Get buy-in from staff. Change is tough for most people and some staff will even bea little suspicious of new systems. They may feel threatened by the possibility of closeoversight or worry about being disciplined for mistakes. Explaining how a system willhelp them and provide benefits, such as improved member and board satisfaction, timesavings, error reduction, etc. can help to overcome such concerns. membership, marketing and website solutions www.micronetonline.com | www.chambermaster.com | www.memberzone.com | 800.825.9171
  • 2. Even management can have trouble accepting new systems and will put-off makingdecisions on purchasing member management software even when they know theyneed it. Some may think of data collection and analysis as an additional, unwantedburden, instead of a useful tool for carrying out one of their primary responsibilities. Tomake the case, its helpful to show how using the software could improve their own keyperformance indicators (KPIs), such as return on investment (ROI), increased non-duesrevenue, increased website traffic, shortened average days in A/R, increased dues ordonations, increased social media presence, increased event registration and so on.If you haven’t done so recently, consider listing your organization’s objectives and howyou are currently measuring each goal along with current and projected results so youcan begin to track the impact a new system might have.2. Make training an important part of your culture. New users may be intimidated bytechnology or afraid of looking foolish to co-workers or just worried about the time itmight take to learn something new. If the organization takes a strong stand supportinga culture of continuous learning, much of this anxiety will be resolved.Sometimes, users need additional instruction in basic tasks such as how to access andreview reports. In such cases, a live online seminar using the organization’s actual datacan improve their comfort level. Even after users are familiar with the software,additional training will help them learn more about the softwares capabilities, includingfunctions that are specific to billing, communications, the website, mobile features,events and so forth. Once users have hands-on experience with the system, they oftenhave questions that didnt come up during the initial training.Ideally, the vendor will have a series of online training resources to allow to your staff togrow and develop their skills on their own schedule. Make sure everyone knows whattheir resources are and how to access them.Typically staff feel more valued if they receive regular training, even if it’s informal.Employees involved in classes report they have increased job satisfaction and higher membership, marketing and website solutions www.micronetonline.com | www.chambermaster.com | www.memberzone.com | 800.825.9171
  • 3. morale than before training and are better able to adapt rapidly to new technologies --all leading to less staff turnover.3. Prioritize information. Information overload, a common concern among users, candiscourage people from making full use of the softwares many capabilities. One way toprevent that is to clearly define each users’ roles and responsibilities, and then providethem with only the information they actually need to carry out those responsibilities.After they are comfortable with their core activities, it will become important to both togo into more depth and crosstrain your staff on key tasks so you can accommodate staffvacations and changes without missing a beat.Member management software makes so much information available that its easy tolose sight of whats most important. We recommend that you focus on the reasons theorganization decided to take on the software in the first place. Whatever it is, e.g. timesavings, better reporting, stronger member benefits -- thats what you need to focus onas the primary objective. That doesnt mean you cant look at secondary issues, but youshould identify priorities and then phase in others.4. Take a phased approach and take it slow. Once association and chambermanagement start seeing opportunities for improvement, they may be eager tointroduce changes quickly. However, moving too fast could disrupt operations and elicitpushback from staff. Start with small initiatives that require little effort or change, andthen moving on to broader efforts.Before beginning the use of a new system, make sure your current data is accurate andcomplete. Additional time spent reviewing your starting data (whether converting froma prior system or data that has been manually created) is time well spent. The end ofyour first live month is not the time to review the quality of your data. Your organizationcan expect a significant return on this very important upfront investment of time.5. Make people accountable. The ability of member management software to takedata and generate reports is impressive, but to get a return on their investment, membership, marketing and website solutions www.micronetonline.com | www.chambermaster.com | www.memberzone.com | 800.825.9171
  • 4. organizations have to take action based on what they learn. The best way to ensure thathappens, is to allow staff member be held accountable for making improvements inmember satisfaction, billing efficiencies, website improvements, overall reporting, andany other major areas of concern.Check to see if your software allows you to create customized reports to help you trackKPIs and member engagement over time.MEANINGFUL CHANGEBecause member management software provides companies with a number of valulablereports, such as member engagement metrics and so forth, it can be tempting forassociation and chamber managers to think that the software itself will solve all theirproblems. But thats not very realistic. The purpose of the software, is to helporganizations make meaningful decisions and to streamline operational processes. Anycost savings or other improvements will depend not on the software or the data itself,but on how the user analyzes it and puts it to use.ABOUT MICRONETMicroNet, Inc. is a developer of software and networking services based in Nisswa, MN. Over 1300 chambers andassociations trust ChamberMaster and MemberZone from MicroNet with their member management, membermarketing and website needs. Our SaaS is built from the ground up to be the most comprehensive and easy-to-usemember management system, helping organizations save time through streamlining processes and automatingroutine tasks. With 14 modules spanning Billing, Communication, Social Media, Reporting and more – you’ll have allthe tools you need to run your organization smoothly. Importantly, the organization has a highly ranked customerservice and support center dedicated to your success. www.micronetonline.com membership, marketing and website solutions www.micronetonline.com | www.chambermaster.com | www.memberzone.com | 800.825.9171

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