Evaluating Youth Sports Management Platforms
By Melissa Wickes
March 18, 2022
You’ve realized that it’s time to change how you run your youth sports organization. Great! Technology today is playing a greater role in youth sports than ever before, and it’s great that you’re embracing that fact. With the help of online platforms, gone are paper registrations, waivers, chasing parents for money, phone chains, newspaper ads and flyers and youth sports management has becoming easier.
Now the tough part. With so many different companies providing similar tools around youth sports management solutions, how do you make a decision? Before you get started, we recommend you ask yourself 10 questions before you’re finally able to take the next step.
After speaking with hundreds of organizations, these are some of the best 10 questions that have been posed to us when helping potential partners assess a new piece of technology for their organization.
Here are 10 questions to ask yourself when evaluating your next sports management platform.
Does the youth sports management platform improve the parent’s experience?
A great user experience means everything from signing kids up to paying and keeping track of activities is simple and intuitive. When making your evaluation, be sure to test what your participants will experience when using the platform. If your parents and customers are confused when registering for one of your programs, that’s not a good start.
Do this quick four step process to determine if the registration process is simple for parents and customers.
What value does this provide to our organization?
What are your goals when switching to another platform? Is it streamlining processes? A lot of technology vendors promise to make life easier, but it’s important to take note of the practical improvements.
When considering the platform, think through how it eliminates manual entries, improves communication capabilities, streamlines payment collection, and helps with the management and marketing of your organization. Without value in these areas, nothing else will matter. Ensure the platform is meeting your goals.
Is it cost-effective?
Free doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s good for your organization. The platform choice should align with your budget. When evaluating costs, the price should match your expectations and needs. If you are paying for a platform, can you quantify the value you are receiving in return? To start, try to quantify or measure in units of time saved or number of new kids reached.
How are you getting charged?
From a business perspective, when researching costs, it’s important to understand the breakdown and pricing. Your organization shouldn’t be charged if you’re not collecting money. And the money once collected should go straight into your bank account, not float another business. Are you paying for additional services or features like email, web hosting, or offline payments received? Make sure you have a full understanding of the charges associated with the entire product and its services before committing to a platform.
What does the company do with the participant’s information?
Do you own your data? It is critical to understand what the platform does with member information. In some cases, member’s information can be sold to a third party, meaning participants are targeted for the rest of their lives because they played sports when they were younger.
Don’t get roped into another businesses’ data collection initiatives. It’s your sports organization. Your customer data should belong to you, not some third party.
How does support work?
Support is often forgotten until an unanticipated hurdle arises. It is crucial to understand how the vendor structures its support services. Many organizations have been left with a half-baked product because the vendor walked away after the sale. Are you being shuffled to a person overseas? Make sure you have a full knowledge of the guidance being provided, the terms of service and whether additional support is offered. Assess the price as well.
Are you able to integrate with your existing website?
If you have an established brand and website at the ready, selecting a platform that can integrate seamlessly with existing other technologies critical. If your organization has a great website why would you change it to use new technology? Selecting a platform to accept payments and registration does not have to mean investing in a whole new website.
On the other hand, if you do want a new website, your new software should be able to accommodate that as well, without taking away from your brand’s vision and mission.
Can you talk with existing customers?
Who better to explain the value of the technology than an organization that is using the product? The vendor should have confidence introducing you to a partner(s) that can illuminate the experience with first-hand knowledge. Click here to join a network of leading youth sports organizers, so you can learn what they have to say about the youth sports management products they use.
How hard is it to implement this technology?
In order to fully understand the time to move to a new platform, it is key to grasp the processes and plans to put in place and a projected timeline of the associated activities. How long is the onboarding process? Does the vendor offer guidance with the set-up? Is there an implementation or launch plan and what are the associated costs? Knowing the answers to these questions will allow you to establish if you are going to be able to implement this technology in the expected timeframe.
What is the vendor’s product roadmap?
Is the vendor consistently updating the product? Do they take partner feedback into consideration? Are they focused on solving your needs today and tomorrow? Understanding the roadmap of features, feedback loops and consistency and speed of innovation will allow you to assess whether the technology is a good fit.
With these 10 questions in hand, your organization will be in a position to wade through all the outdated technology on the market. The evaluation process should be taken seriously. No one likes buying the house that looks pretty on the outside but has termites and plumbing issues lying within the woodwork. Make sure to ask the necessary questions to ensure a comprehensive evaluation.
Good luck! To learn more about LeagueApps, or to ask us these 10 questions-, request to see a free demo!