Software providers love to talk about the bells and whistles. As important as the features are – technology has to meet your functional needs – there are other crucial factors to take into account when selecting a software provider. If you are considering recreation software, be sure to ask providers about these eight factors:
Questions always arise and that’s where support is important. Does the software provider have support hours that fit your schedule? Do they offer an online portal with templates, discussions, and answers so you can solve problems around the clock? No matter how great a software system is, you’ll have questions and sometimes even issues. This is where you need to have people behind the software who can help.
2. Marketing power
A big piece of recreation software should be designed to help you with your marketing efforts. Ask if the provider has any integrated marketing functionality like email tools and social media integration. Since all of your customer information will live in the system, it’s important to have your email marketing tool run in the same place.
On top of that, what else can the software provider offer from a marketing perspective? Ask if the company has any external websites where you could list classes, programs, and parks to increase your visibility.
3. PCI compliance
Current providers of outsourced technology solutions need to meet certain requirements that are determined and enforced by an independent global forum called the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Security Standard Council. Due to these strict regulations, the level of security from hosted technology providers is robust with firewalls, unique system passwords, data encryption, and regular testing. Make sure to ask which level of PCI compliance the payment processor has achieved.
Ease of use is an extremely important software quality, particularly at recreation facilities where the skills of computer users vary. Therefore, it’s important to ask about the training and implementation process. Will the software provider bring staff on-site to train your users? Do they offer training videos and detailed documentation that’s easily accessible? Make sure the training process will bring you and your staff fully up to speed with the new system before the training ends.
It’s important when evaluating software packages that you choose a solution with the scalability to grow as your department’s needs change and buy from a vendor that will be around long enough to support the growth. Start with the basic functions that you need and look to add on additional features or modules over time. That way, you’ll be able to fulfill your technology needs right now as well as in the future.
6. References and success stories
Make sure the technology company has a proven track record. Check for case studies, customer lists, references, and testimonials. If you can find a similar organization to you that is already a customer, ask to get in touch with someone at that company and ask about the relationship.
7. Tips and resources
This wraps a lot into one. With blogs, social networks, and marketing portals, it is easy for companies to share content with their followers and customers. Check into the software providers’ social networks and blogs to see what type of information they share.
To sum it up, be sure to look behind the pretty features and benefits. If the software passes the test and meets your needs, then take a look at these seven areas in order to find the perfect software partner for your recreation organization.
Learn more about our recreation software.