According to Internet World Stats’ June 2008 report, nearly 250 million people, or 75% of the population, in North America use the Internet. And this number continues to grow. The proliferation of Internet use is garnering the attention of organizations Donations & Grants Management worldwide that are moving at least a part of their operations online. For sports teams and leagues, this trend is no different. There are several factors motivating sports organizations to take their league online. Below are the top 5 reasons:
1. Convenient options. To maximize your participation and alleviate long registration lines, allow your coaches, parents and athletes to register for a team when and where it’s most convenient for them.
2. Simplified administration. Eliminate the burden of manual data entry for staff and volunteers and save on paper use by storing all information electronically.
3. Centralized database. Improve organization and data management with a single data entry point and electronic filing of required documents in your league management software database.
4. Time and money savings. Reallocate staff members’ time from handling in-person registrations and manually creating rosters and reports to managing other business projects. This improves productivity and positively impacts the bottom line.
5. Improved communication and marketing. Enhance visibility of your league with a professional, search engine-friendly and up-to-date website that better communicates standings, stats, information, schedules, required forms, tournament details, and more.
Once your league has made the decision to offer online options, it’s important to select the best technology partner for your league. When considering league management software providers that can help take your league online, there are a few qualities you should consider, including:
- Reliability. This first requirement relates to both the reliability of the online program, as well as the reliability of the provider. Consider how long the company has been in business and what kind of feedback you can find about the company and its products. Search online for reviews, blogs and other comments. A company with a large number of referrals means that it’s wisely investing in its technology and its people, translating to a company your league can trust.
- Functionality. As you’re talking to various league management software providers, prepare a list of your management and reporting needs and request that the companies’ sales personnel walk you through each requirement to explain if and how their system will meet your needs. Keep in mind that some companies will customize solutions, so if need be, find out how much it would cost and when you can expect the system in its entirety.
- Simplicity. Request a demo account, or at least an on-site demo, where you and your staff can see first-hand how the software operates. Your software provider should understand that everyone from veteran staff members to non-technical volunteers will be using the program, so be sure to look closely at how easy the online program will be to set up and use on a daily basis. Just make sure you’re getting a balance of both simplicity and functionality.
- Cost-Efficiency. When evaluating potential technology partners, make a list of all possible costs and fees associated with the online program to ensure you have a thorough understanding of the total cost of ownership, as well as the return on investment. Consider potential fees such as per tournament, per registrant, % of transaction, annual license, up-front/implementation, training, maintenance or upgrade, customer service support, and any additional service fees that may be specific to one company.
- Security. Ask each software provider how they ensure the security of your users’ online transactions. Each company should have a written statement or document explaining its Internet security measures. In addition to ensuring secure transactions, your league management software provider should also help improve your risk management with automated tools and comprehensive steps for disclosure questionnaires and background checks for staff and volunteers.
- Superior Support. Last but not least, your online software provider should offer 24/7 access to a knowledgeable, friendly team of customer support experts to help resolve any questions or concerns right when you need it. The customer service support team should be accessible to everyone, from senior staff to part-time volunteers.
I hope these tips are helpful in your decision to move your league online. Talk with providers and find out how your organization can improve marketing efforts, increase communication and offer convenient online registration options for your coaches, parents and athletes. Make lists in preparation for meetings with potential technology partners and always feel free to request references. In the end, moving your league or club online should be a very smooth transition that benefits your league, your staff, your parents and coaches, and your organization’s revenue.