third-sector, February 28, 2017
“We live in a society of rapid innovation.”
It’s not hard to see that we live in a society of rapid innovation where we can rely on technologies and services that have drastically improved our way of life, many of which weren’t available more than a few years ago.
So why is it that many organisations still cling to outdated software systems when there are so many more efficient choices out there? There are plenty of associations or organisations still plodding along managing memberships, events or communications through spreadsheets or using CRMs geared more towards sales than better serving their members or stakeholders.
In many ways, the traditional or older approaches may seem fine in getting the job done, but you could also say the same about faxes as an appropriate method of communication or visiting your local video store to rent a movie. It can “get the job done”, but with recent developments in technology there are far more convenient, efficient and cost effective ways of undertaking these activities.
In much the same way, recent developments in software and hardware infrastructure such as Cloud based Software as a Service (SaaS), much more efficient and cost effective Software options are now available to small to medium sized associations.
Association Management Software (AMS)
The more appropriate choice would be use software that has been specifically developed to run Associations and Member-based organisations, or Association Management Software (AMS). The advantages of an AMS comes through automation of many manual tasks, tighter integration of data and activities within the organisation, and improved communications between its various stakeholders.
With an AMS you can reduce those spikes in administration that usually becomes more apparent on the lead up to major events, conferences, or membership renewal periods.
Significantly reducing administrative chores can allow organisations to refocus back on the more important things; engaging and delivering more benefits to your members.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
One of the challenges with the advent of Association Management Software has been the increased cost of developing these solutions over more manual or traditional systems. The benefits and time savings can be huge but often there has been a rather substantial initial capital expenditure (sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars). The cost to benefit for many small and medium Associations can be prohibitive even with the overall long term benefits.
With the arrival of newer technologies and modern architecture this model has been turned on its head with Multi Tenancy Software as a Service (SaaS). You may already be familiar with other SaaS systems like Microsoft Office 365 or Adobe Creative Cloud. However, the true benefits come with a true SaaS, or Multi-Tenancy SaaS platform, rather than sneaky software vendors just using a new pricing model on top of legacy technical models.
The advantage of a true, or Multi-Tenancy SaaS platform is that all users are leveraging the same code base and not running off separate customised code. For example, when you subscribe to Office 365, or Mailchimp, the providers of this software do not create a copy of the code just for you. Using a single code base creates economies of scale delivering huge benefits such as lower costs, greater stability and a continually evolving platform that never becomes obsolete, removing the need for major and costly upgrade cycles. It makes Enterprise grade software available without the Enterprise level prices.
membes SaaS is a Multi-tenancy SaaS platform designed specifically for Australian Association and Stakeholder Management (www.membes.com.au). This means that your organisation has access to a Full Featured AMS at a fraction of the cost (both upfront and ongoing) that a bespoke solution would entail.
Multi Tenancy SaaS delivers:
- Significantly lower upfront and ongoing costs.
- Quicker roll out of initial setup and ongoing upgrades
- Fixed ongoing costs.
- Removal of costly replacement (end of life) cycles
- More developed features and capabilities
- Greater levels of security and reliability
- And more
Ok, what’s the catch?
Multi-tenancy SaaS isn’t for everybody. Whilst there are huge upsides, efficiencies and cost savings there are still times when a fully customised or bespoke solution may be more appropriate for large complex organisations with the capital and cash flow to warrant a bespoke solution. In our experience, about 1 in 10 Associations are still best suited for a custom bespoke solution and will not find a net benefit from multi-tenancy SaaS.
Less Customisation, More Configuration
Because membes utilises a single code base, costs are lower, deployment is faster and features can be rolled out quicker. Whereas the power of a bespoke solution comes with a greater degree of control at the cost of increased maintenance and higher cost of feature enhancements. Basically, if you have the budget and time, the sky is the limit.
The difference stems from the underlying code. Bespoke solutions or solutions that branch off an existing code-base and essentially become a unique product for each client. With each product being different from client to client, it loses the economies of scale. Resulting in increased costs to maintain, fix bugs, and roll out newer feature enhancements. Unfortunately for these reasons many organisations avoid much needed bug fixes and feature enhancements until ultimately the solution needs a major upgrade or replacement.
The challenge with a single code based SaaS platform such as membes is less customisations. If your organisation has very unique requirements, bespoke may be the only answer. However, the goal with true SaaS is to have a good depth of configurations built into the existing system that allows it to cater for a board range of requirements. If your requirements can be meet with these configurations or if you can adjust your existing processes to fit within them, the advantages of using such a platform are substantial.
Because membes is a continually evolving platform, if 100% of your requirements aren’t initially met there is a good chance it won’t be long before they are, then, promptly and continuously exceeded.