Written By: Bill Boothe & Jeremy Hoch
We continue to be amazed at the number of private clubs that dump their older club management software for something new without a thought of how they might retain and improve what they already have. Helping clubs choose a replacement system has been the mainstay of our consulting practice for almost 30 years. If there is one thing we have learned through more than 350 replacement projects, it is that replacement is never pretty. Virtually every club department is affected, through data conversion, forms design, features configuration, user training, report generation and the break-in period of 12 months or so as staff (and members) become comfortable with the new software. Not to mention a significant financial investment to get from System A to System B. In the end, is it really worth the effort, disruption and cost? For many clubs the answer is a definitive “yes.” But for many others, the answer is a murky “I think so” or “I am not really sure.” So how do you decide?
The good news is that there is an easy and inexpensive way to determine the merits of replacement vs. retention. It is called a replacement vs. reengineering assessment. This assessment begins with a thorough analysis of the club’s software requirements, which produces a functionality gap list documenting each and every shortcoming and wish-list item gathered from all club departments and management. The gap list is then reviewed by experts from the legacy software company to learn what can be done to address each item on the list. If 80 percent or more of the listed items can be successfully addressed by the legacy software, then reengineering becomes a strong contender versus replacement – especially if the remaining 20 percent or so are not mission critical to the club’s operations.
In the past few years, about 50 percent of our replacement projects have switched to reengineering following an assessment. That is because no matter what the club tells us they want (usually replacement), we always perform the assessment first to make sure replacement is really needed. It is exactly the same analysis we would perform for a replacement project, with a small extra step of verifying the feasibility of satisfying the gap list items with the existing software.
But wait you say! If the club’s users are so dissatisfied with the existing software that they want to replace it, how could that software possibly be improved enough to retain it? Consider what often leads users to be dissatisfied: lack of training and understanding of how the software actually operates, new features and reports added over the years that are not being used, poor configuration and set-up from years past that continue to haunt current operations, and a belief that “new has to be better.” But why go through all of the hassle and expense of a replacement if reengineering can address the vast majority of the sore spots?
The old saying “look before you leap” certainly applies here. First assess the feasibility of retaining and reengineering, then decide if you really want to make the leap.
Bill Boothe is president and owner of The Boothe Group, LLC, an independent consulting firm that helps clubs understand computer technology, make good decisions and receive the highest value from their technology investment. During his 25 years in the club industry Bill has assisted more than 350 private clubs with the planning, evaluation, selection and implementation of computer technology in all facets of their operations. Bill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeremy Hoch is president and owner of Anchor Consulting Services, an independent consulting and training organization specializing in club management software re-engineering and user training. Jeremy’s expertise is in identifying areas of improvement and executing change, allowing clubs to become more efficient by maximizing their investment in their club management software. During the past fifteen years, Jeremy has worked with hundreds of clubs varying in size from several hundred members to several thousand. He can be reached at Jeremy@anchorcs.com.