If you’ve already reached this point and that’s why you’re reading this post, then you already know it’s a tricky decision and the further you dig the higher that hurdle becomes.

Let’s break it down…

What is a Package solution?

A Package solution is an ‘out of the box’ option, you ‘get what you get’. It’s a solution that’s put together for a particular purpose or to solve a specific problem. It can be made up of various aspects such as software, services, support and training. The different aspects of the solution are put together as a bundle and sold as a package. You guessed it, that’s why it’s called a Package solution!

The software functionality is generally fixed and can’t be changed apart from configuration changes. Having said that, there are some packaged solutions that can be built upon if you wish to add extra functionality later, but you will be tied into that version of the package; which defeats the point of having a packaged solution in the first place.

What is a Platform solution?

A Platform solution is the customised option. Simply put this solution is the one that will allow you to build it and sculpt it in a way to meet your specific organisations requirements. The platform solution is generally less expensive than a ‘custom’ solution because the software is pre- built as a template but can be further tailored to meet your requirements.

Which solution is best for a membership organisation?

This is a very broad question as there are estimated to be over 8000 membership organisations in the UK each with 1000+ members. If you count the smaller membership organisations, there are around 50,000 in the UK! So, it’s clear that there is an unthinkable amount of variety in the market, which software companies must fulfil.

The backbone of nearly all membership organisations is the same…

Members

They have members who pay them a fee to receive services and/or benefits.

Sign-up

People who wish to become members go through a sign-up process either online, over the phone or by post which usually involves making a payment if membership comes at a cost.

Service

The membership organisation provides the newly signed up member with value which can be given in various forms such as providing valuable information, supplying products, inviting them to events or providing networking opportunities, these are to name few.

Renew

When the members subscription is up for renewal the organisation will have to go through the process again to re-subscribe or end the membership.

Your digital solution will be heavily involved in all the above processes so it’s crucial that you do your homework before you make any decisions.

The Details

The differentiators between most membership organisations are identified at the service stage. For example, some organisations will need to manage Grants. If this is the case here’s some things you would need to consider. Does the Package option offer a solution for this? If not, can it be built on the Platform option, the answer is most likely yes.

If the Package option does offer a solution for Grants, then great right? Well not quite...

Does it do everything you need it to do?

Can you assign admin members to review Grant applications?

How is the member notified that they have an action against their Grant?

If they decide to cancel the application, what’s the process for this?

Is the process simple and reliable enough? If not, then it most certainly will be on the platform option because it can be built to meet your exact requirements.

You will need to review each area of your organisation in the exact same way. This is the level of detail you will need to go into when looking at how your membership organisation operates and to enable you to reach an informed decision.

You may not offer Grants in your organisation, but you might host events. Again, does the Package option have a solution for events and if so, does it do EXACTLY what you need it to do? Are you prepared to change the way you work to fit the package?

Once you look deeper into your services; how you’d like your members to receive them and how you are going to manage them, you will start to understand which solution is best for you.

Platform Solution

Great for:

  • Flexibility
  • High degree of customisation
  • Sustainable and built for the long term as you can build on over time
  • Ability to make changes quickly and reliably

Not so great for:

  • You must dedicate a lot of time at the beginning of a project
  • Can be complex so attention to detail is critical
  • Can be more expensive than package solutions but not always

Package solution

Great for:

  • Could be low initial investment depending on the Package
  • Don’t need to dedicate your time to building the system
  • Quick to implement

Not so great for:

  • Tend to be very rigid with regards to functionality
  • Unable to make big changes to the solution once implemented
  • Little to no customisation depending on the provider
  • You may need to change the way you work

Conclusion

Both solutions have their place.

If there’s little chance of your organisation changing in the next 5 years and the Package solution does everything you need it to do AND fits in with your future vision, this is most likely the best solution for you. The costs will be relatively low, and you will be able to implement the solution quickly.

If you’re a membership organisation that has a view to grow and develop over time, a Platform solution is most likely going to be your best option. The initial cost may seem overkill. However, as your organisation changes you can mould your solution to fit your future vision. If you go down the Package route you could be looking at an expensive re-development bill when you get to this stage.

Get in touch to find out how we can help your membership organisation.