September 27, 2011

Held Hostage by Databases?

It’s an all-too-frequent theme: we meet with schools, colleges, non-profits and associations unhappily trapped by legacy software.

Years ago, the story usually starts, they got tempted to sign up for an all-inclusive membership software “package” that did it all: membership enrollment, dues billing and collection, event calendar, and on and on. Such a deal.

The trouble starts down the road when the price of upgrades rise while customer service falls. Time to re-think, re-design, re-brand? It’s at that point, however, they realize they don’t actually own their data, which can’t be exported. Plus, the graphic changes they are permitted to make are limited. Plus, the membership module now ties into their accounting, and that can’t be untangled either.

They’re left with two choices: realize they’re being held captive, pay the ransom, and endure the shoddy service … or scrap it all and start with a modern-CMS website where they can own and control the data. Very tough choice.

Since both strategies are expensive (perhaps in different ways), we often come down on the side of the long-term benefit of owning your data, controlling your destiny, and freeing your brand from template sameness.