For the past 11 years I've been managing the membership for a large Christian Men's Chorus of some 300 active members; plus some 700 inactive records for reasons ranging from health/age to other issues such as a member moving out of the area. Our current DB is MS Access.
As technology moves forward, we need to be looking to a future of using "the cloud" or some online DB that functions as well and simply as Access. Current versions of Access do not permit multiple users at a time, so that online usage doesn't allow online collaboration between the various committees (such as music committee, communications committee, etc.)
We recruit annually and need to make sure that members the previous year (or two years or more) are specifically targeted with personalized recruitment forms, name tags when registered and music packing lists for new members.
Last edited by JMack; 06-08-12 at 15:48.
No other DB's have been suggested, and we have had little luck in learning about on-line options. Despite the "similarities" of language one professional has suggested that we stay away from SQL because of the learning curve. Our periodic need to rotate Membership Chairmen in and out coupled with most computer user's reluctance to learn new and "complicated" technology demand a DB that is easy to learn. Access is easier than most want to believe, and they "THINK" that they can do the same things in the same time with an Excel workbook. It's true that it can be done, but it is roughly comparable to banging away on a manual typewriter with paper as compared to a solid relational DB. I would have to work 5 to 10 times harder with many, many more hours put in than I do now with Access. The problem with Access is that it is not transportable to the web for multiple users at a time. Thus it cannot be used for on-line registrations. We are not at that need right now, but the time is coming quicker than any of my associates want to believe. I have been looking for a relatively simple CRM, but everything seems to go so far beyond what I need that I cannot imagine using them. Add to that, the descriptions do not tell me how they would interface with my needs.
I wasn't able to respond last week, as I was on a concert trip with the chorus and without computer access.
I posed your question to our Treasurer (who was on the trip too), but neither of us had much time to think about it.
I saw where Zoho seemed to imply a charge of $300 per seat per year. For us the minimum number of seats would be 4 or 5. I doubt our membership would approve charges in that range ($1200 to $1500) per year. Such charges might well make it impossible for us to access CRM and require that we remain with off-line MS Access use.
That raises another question; with CRM where online purchases are made using the software, do the customers represent added "users?" Would such users incur an additional charge? If so, with only one "sale" per year (a $30 membership fee) for each of some 300 current members, that would be totally impossible.
You need to make sure what the definition of a "seat" is for Zoho. With some software a seat equals a user id. With others a seat is more like a bus - only so many can ride at one time (no standing in the aisle<g>). It has been years since i was involved with pc software licensing a the "seat" level. The clients i work with now typically get site licenses as far as i'm aware.
Are there people in the group who are "data hobby-ists"? Possibly some prototyping using "free trial" software would help with the learning.
I suspect that at least one dedicated box will be needed to support the app once you begin using it. The price for a decent pc has dropped quite a lot.
I apologize for being so long getting back to you. The past week or so have been very, very busy. I'm POD publishing a book on Leadership, and have perhaps three steps left before I get the actual sales process going. I'll be done with that phase by the end of this week.
As to our organization; our people would have to increase in their skills by light years in order to be called "data hobby-ists." Many of the Steering Committee don't even know how to import an e-mail list into their e-mail clients. Our current president even thinks I should be putting his e-mails out. He has resisted simple instruction on making the e-mail list import, even though I sent him the list in the first weeks of his tenure.
Our current MS Access DB suffers from the 1990's when finding and repairing fixes were pretty difficult. Access didn't really come of age until MS Office 2000. Now, people who aren't using it are afraid of it and won't take the time to even see how we are using it. Meanwhile, you might not imagine how I am making it work to lessen my near year-round workload.
The real problem, though, is that it is strictly a one-user-at-a-time DB. Even if we would put a working copy of the current KMMC DB on line, it would be a convenience only for the Membership Chairman. What I need is something that can be handled online by two or more administrators and secondary level users (like trip coordinators, a role I routinely turn down due to the rest of my responsibilities).
One of the impediments of using access currently is the problem of people not knowing how it functions and being afraid to learn. As a result, even though there is a "theoretical" term limit of 6 years for all Steering Committees, I am entering my 12th year. If I could teach users remotely, the membership chair wouldn't be trapped for so long, and we could get a better level of assistant-level entry and ultimate roll-over according to our bylaws.
I'll check into how the various CRM's define their licenses. Usually, that isn't so easily determined until you get into the purchasing process.