October 7, 2014
The database lies at the heart of association technology. Information technology professionals know the value a robust, well-maintained database has for their organization. That’s why when they’re looking to change or upgrade their database, there are a few key things they have in mind. Here are six things IT professionals look for in a new database:
First and foremost, IT professionals need a database thorough enough to meet their needs. After all, there’s no point in switching systems if the solution you’re moving to is an anemic one. Associations that are investing in enterprise software don’t want to have to purchase a lot of other systems to accomplish each and every task they need to serve their membership. They want to be able to use the systems they have to the fullest extent to, and that requires robust capability. From managing member information, to doing E-marketing, to throwing events, associations need a system that can get the job done.
The ability to integrate your database with any other database or software your association uses is another key thing IT professionals look for in new technology. Even if you have a robust database that can get most of what you need to get done, there may be a few third party tools you’d prefer to keep in the mix and keep using. If this sounds like you, then you’ll want to make sure your system can integrate with any other system you’d want to use. Also important to many IT professionals is single sign on integration with other systems - allowing your members to use one login to sign onto a number of different sites or interfaces, making your database easier to use.
User experience is a very important, and often overlooked, aspect of choosing the right technology. Is the system you’re using intuitive? Word of mouth spreads quickly in associations, so if someone has had a bad experience, that experience may spread quickly throughout your organization. Also consider that associations in general tend to have limited resources in regards to volunteers - if your database can be made as intuitive, user-friendly and easy as possible for volunteers to use, they’ll be more likely to volunteer their valuable time both now and in the future.Want to increase volunteers for your association? Make sure your system is intuitive, user-friendly & simple to use”
Association professionals know they need to meet their members where they are. Whether this is providing accessibility from an ADA perspective or from a technological one, this accessibility is key. With more and more people using smartphones to read email and engage with their association, providing support across multiple platforms is important. And the experience your members have needs to be consistent as the content is being consumed, no matter what platform they’re using. Is your association’s offerings as accessible as they could be?
Another thing that’s important to IT professionals is the ability to go into the backend themselves so they don’t always have to go through the vendor’s support. After all, the reason they’re at the association is to provide support for all the information technology needs of the association. Being able to “get their hands dirty” is something that many professionals want to be able to do. Does your database allow them that capability? You’ll want to make sure your staff can access the backend of your system in the way they want to or need to.
IT professionals, and associations at large, need a system that’s flexible. And this flexibility cannot come at the cost of constant customizations that take the product off the upgrade path. Avoid wasting time and money by choosing a database that you know is flexible enough to do what you need now, and can grow with you in the future. Leverage the resources your association has now while leaving the door open for further growth. Planning for success is a habit that doesn’t end when choosing your database.
IT professionals look to technological solutions to expand what their association staff can do, so everyone can best serve the association. The goal is to increase capability, ease and automation from their end, while making use the association technology as simple and seamless for their staff and members. Making the right choice when it comes to a new database is a key part of this plan for success.