Everyone wants the shiny, new product on the market. We don’t blame them. That’s OK when you’re buying your next phone or personal tablet. But for the kind of major investments associations encounter? Short-term functionality of the product is only half of the battle.
Plenty of people have bought into throwaway culture — picking the more disposable option instead of the durable product which brings greater return on investment. For personal investments, flash over substance is fine. Thinking about a major purchase for a team of association staffers — people whose productivity effects thousands of members? Functionality and durability should be top of mind for association decision-makers.
How to avoid throwaway culture
Members want to know their dues are being spent wisely. Regular and unnecessary technological investments aren’t going to look great at your next board meeting, either. So what questions should you get answered before your association’s next major tech investment?
1) How committed is the vendor to this specific product?
A recent Associations Now piece highlighted the woes of Macintosh users and software developers who have seen Apple lose interest in the product in favor of increased attention to other product lines.
Here’s how Associations Now put it:
“The common belief among Mac fans is that the market is less desirable for Apple than the much larger market for iOS, so it’s putting less of its focus on the Mac platform, despite the sizable number of people who have invested in that platform over the years. Meanwhile, PCs with comparable hardware in many cases cost less and get upgraded at a regular clip…”
The same issues reach far into the tech industry.
2) Is this a customer-first or sales-oriented vendor?
If comparable fees exist for competing products, ask around to find out the top priority of each vendor. Are the products continually adding new functions? Are more software firms integrating with the product or not?
Throwaway culture extends beyond consumers to reaches businesses, too. Some tech firms are content to make a sale and move on — providing limited end-user support or rarely adding value to their flagship products.
To avoid becoming the next client whose disposed of after signing on the dotted line, read customer reviews and call customer references. You’ll quickly find out who created a functional product that’s build to last and whose service will end up in the trash heap.
3) Is this vendor in the news? Why?
We’ve all seen our fair share of companies who’ve been taken down a peg on Twitter or Facebook when a bad customer experience goes viral. Bad press is easy to spot. Do some quick research for any glaring issues like lack of durability of poor customer support.
Once that’s done, check around for notable system improvements. Microsoft, for instance, is rolling out a new user experience for its Office 365 applications — which seamlessly integrate into the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform. The improvements are meant to boost usability, and therefore, productivity.
The quest to perfect a product that integrates into other core Microsoft software emphasizes a customer-first attitude geared toward extending the life of their products.
It’s a process to make sure you’ve found the right technology for your association. You won’t want to be duped into purchasing a product without a path toward improving the user experience. Take your time with your association’s next major purchase. It’ll save time down the road.
Worried about AMS Remorse? Click here to read Protech’s guide to find the perfect Association Management Software.
Be sure to sign up for our monthly newsletter for more association management tips.