Back Office Systems – “If It Ain’t Broke….Maybe You Should Replace It?”
As specialists in union back office systems we often hear the old saying (upon which I’ve based my title above) “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” This is often used when talking about software which could be referred to as “past its sell by date”, “vintage” or well….. Just plain old.
There is some truth to this adage when discussing perhaps a kitchen blender or a staging of a Shakespeare play, but when it comes to software it can be false economy in the extreme. Two areas in which we specialize are membership systems and accounting systems. In each of these areas, the changes that have come along in the last few years are of great significance. In some cases we are not even talking about improved functionality and additional features, but changes which have totally revolutionized the entire functionality of the product in question. Take for instance the impact of the Internet on the present possibilities of union membership and dues software. Here are some extraordinary capabilities which depending upon the size and type of union would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.
a) Maintaining and reporting on your member data from anywhere in the world.
b) Self service areas where members can (within allowed parameters) see data relevant to their own membership and dues history.
c) Pay union dues and other charges online using credit cards and / or ACH charges.
d) Instant communications en masse with membership through e-mails and social media.
e) Internationals’ systems can consolidate and analyze data in real time from hundreds of locals, with everybody viewing the same data at the same time.
f) Employer payroll data (e.g. dues deductions) being sent digitally and processed faster as a result.
g) Filing official forms and reports (Department of Labor LM-2, LM-3 etc.) online.
h) “Cloud” based systems where even small locals can access powerful systems on an “as required basis” and reduce the reliance on internal software, operating systems, networks and costly “IT support”. Cloud systems can even greatly reduce any “up front” capital expenditure.
All of the above examples have come into being relatively recently and are offered by our company. Yet time and again we see unions of all sizes still using systems which were designed and implemented years before any of this was possible.
These changes don’t just represent technical advances; they come with sometimes vast savings in efficiency and cost. The impacts upon system design, operation, and deployment have been dramatic and every union should be considering how they might benefit from adoption of a system based on the latest technology, even if their existing system “ain’t broke”. It’s a bit like sticking with a horse and buggy when you can fly. The horse and buggy “ain’t broke” but it’s time has passed, and so has its efficiency and cost effectiveness. If you have a system which has been developed before words like “eBay”, “blog” , “Google” or even “web” were around you seriously need to look at today’s alternatives. Bear in mind that at the rate modern technology advances it is far easier to make changes incrementally on a planned basis than to try and suddenly overhaul a system whose pedigree goes back to the days when disco was new.
If you would like a no obligation appraisal of your current systems, and want to find out more about how recent developments in technology can help your union, please contact us. We’ll be happy to help.