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’re looking for race management software or are not quite happy with what you’ve got today, go beyond the feature list and keep an eye out for these seven things:
It’s inevitable that you’ll have questions along the way and that’s why support is crucial. Does the software provider have real live humans you can call to get answers? Do they offer an online portal with FAQs, discussions, and product documents so you can solve problems around the clock? No matter how great a software system is, you’ll have questions and sometimes even issues. If you have access to the people behind the software, you’ll always be able to get the help you need.
2. Marketing power
Race software should be designed to help you with more than just registration and data collection. It should support your marketing efforts. Ask if the provider has any marketing functionality like email tools and social media integration. All of your participant information will live in the system, so 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 other ways to help you reach new audiences of participants, such as external websites where you could post your event listing to increase your exposure.
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. It’s your job to make sure your financial and participant data is completely safe, so don’t forget to ask your provider which level of PCI compliance the payment processor has achieved. Level 1 is the highest and best.
Ease of use is an extremely important software quality, particularly for busy race directors who aren’t often in the office or have part-time volunteers helping them out. Therefore, it’s important to ask about the training and implementation process. Can 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 team fully up to speed before you go live with the system.
It’s important when evaluating software packages that you choose a solution that can grow with you (and of course, from a vendor that will be around long enough to support the growth!). The software should have the basic functions you immediately, as well as the ability to add on features 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
Does the technology company has a proven track record? Check for case studies, customer lists, references, and testimonials. Or, if you know of another event that uses the company, call them up and get their opinion. Nothing is more convincing than word of mouth or an endorsement from your peers.
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 to find the perfect software partner for your event.
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