For (too) many small businesses, looking for a new software solution is a lot like online dating. You base initial opinions on a few pictures and 2-to-3-sentence descriptions; after that, emails and instant messages are exchanged, and you may even agree to a demo, equivalent to an awkward first date. Unfortunately, in both scenarios, this is often where things go totally off the rails.
Learn how searching for that perfect software will make you crazy:
Why is that? Often, it has to do with unrealistic expectations. As in someone’s love life, there’s an emphasis on finding the “perfect” match or, to put it another way, many people will bolt for the door at the first sign of any flaws. You know what you want and you’re not in the mood to make concessions, compromises or sacrifices. Besides, in our current climate of instant gratification and connectivity, another good-looking option will surface eventually, right?
As a result, being compatible devolves into a software (or human being) measuring up to your checklist of must-haves. Is this fair? Hardly. Is it a reality that both software shoppers and dating app users grapple with on regular basis? Absolutely. So, the question becomes: How do we break this vicious cycle of baseless rejection?
The answer is simple: By realizing that “the one” – in this case, a management software solution that is perfect in every way – does not exist.
Where Have all the Good Guys Software Options Gone?
Another dating trope that translates to the world of online registration and management software is something we’ve all heard before: “Where have all the good ones gone?”
This sentiment crops up a lot when recreation organizations are looking to invest in a software upgrade and use wholly unrealistic expectations as a measuring stick. The best part? Many feel that this process is not only perfectly normal but also completely justified – or, as Billy Crystal said in “When Harry Met Sally,” “high maintenance but you think you’re low maintenance.” However, just like Crystal and Meg Ryan found out on the big screen, sometimes fear of stepping outside your comfort zone can get in the way of true happiness.
Let’s be clear: There’s absolutely no problem with having needs and wants when it comes to choosing a digital management system for your business or non-profit. Pinpointing specific software functionality that you need to grow your operation over time – a narrative that you’ve hopefully sketched out in your organization’s business plan – will help you make informed decisions about your digital infrastructure going forward. That said, if your software criteria are blinding you to solid options in the marketplace, what are you really accomplishing?
The key to any long-lasting relationship, whether that’s with a person or a piece of technology, lies (at least in part) in the ability for both parties to be flexible and accommodating. If that can’t happen on your end, a software’s ability to meet your exact needs and/or very specific organizational rules will undoubtedly be strained under that kind of weight.
In short, there are plenty of good reasons why a software tool can’t measure up to your expectations – just make sure they’re the right reasons.
Love Don’t Cost A Thing (Unless it’s Custom Software)
If you’re looking to adopt a digital solution that caters to every single nuance of your organization without any extra features that you know you won’t use, a custom-built piece of software feels like the best option – that is, until most people see the financial and time commitments needed to see something like that through.
We’ve talked about those aspects of custom software builds and why we don’t think they’re worth it on the blog before, but the core message bears repeating: Before shelling out that much cash for a tool that you may not be able to fully implement (this includes training your staff to use it properly too) for close a year, you need to weigh the pros and cons of going down that road. What are you really gaining versus losing during that process?
If the former basically comes down to wish list fulfillment where your organizational rules are concerned, that money could probably be better spent elsewhere, like on facility maintenance, hiring additional staff or even getting a new session, class or activity offering off the ground. In other words, why overspend on one impressive-seeming option, like the most expensive five-star restaurant in town, when you know you and your date could have a great time at the hot local burger? Sure it might be a little louder, maybe a little bit rougher around the edges but that doesn’t make it any less memorable.
In doing so, you’re not settling for a lesser option either – instead, you’d be making more efficient use of your organization’s funds while also opening yourself up to possibilities that could surprise you in the best way possible.
“It’s Not You, It’s Me”
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Whether it’s a software solution or a prospective dating partner, they’re not the problem. It’s going well, sure, and you like what you see in terms of features, user experience and integration possibilities, but for one reason or another, you’re just not ready to commit.
I’ve had conversations with many entrepreneurs, owners and managers from all over North America where the software purchase or upgrade story ends there. It’s more than a “to be continued” kind of ending, it’s a downright tease. You’ve sampled something that you really enjoy and, deep down, know could work for your organization long-term – why not make that relationship a permanent one?
Like any nervy dating situation, there are many factors that come into play. Maybe your friends and/or colleagues haven’t given you the kind of support or approval you need (officially or not). Maybe you’re uninterested in altering your life and schedule to make room for something new. Maybe you’ve had bad experiences with other, ultimately lesser software options in the past and you just don’t want to be let down again.
Whatever the reason, it’s okay to take it slow – it’s human nature to be cautious, especially when the professional and even emotional stakes are so high. That said, if you’re looking to take your organization to the next level with registration or management tools that will increase brand engagement and revenue, it’s not okay to take forever.
Perfection – What a Concept!
In the end, the above conversation between Matt Damon and the late, great Robin Williams from “Good Will Hunting” sums up why searching for that perfect software app, one that checks off all the boxes on your needs and wants list is an exercise in futility. Focus less on the pipe dream of faultlessness and, instead, turn your energy towards thinking about how well you and a platform mesh.
Human beings and technological creations both have their strengths and weaknesses. In that sense, treating the software buying process like dating may not be such a bad idea. As Williams notes in the clip, the question becomes less about being individuallu pristine and more about whether you’re perfect for each other.
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