Switching your MLM software?
Over the past twenty years in network marketing, I’ve been involved in several migrations from one software provider to another. For the majority of those years, I worked on the network marketing corporate side. Recently I’ve had the experience of working on the software vendor side. As a premier provider of MLM software, Xennsoft does many migrations for our clients every year. I’d like to share a couple of lessons learned that might help your company should you choose to switch MLM software, for whatever reason.
Listen to your heart
Recently, a colleague and I came up with a brilliant analogy that correlates switching your MLM software to having open-heart surgery. My father recently went through a triple-bypass heart surgery, so I’m familiar with some of the complications he went through.
My father’s condition was very serious and the blood flow to his heart was restricted due to a severely clogged artery. Doctors told him he wouldn’t have survived a heart attack which could have happened at any time. The scary thing is that my dad had minimal symptoms. He truly had no idea how close he was to death.
Likewise, there may be some things affecting your business, a silent killer you might know nothing about. It could be something like a security breach of your customer data or violations of PCI compliance. What about the new GDPR regulations that will go into effect in the EU in May 2018? Perhaps its the FTC, or other regulatory bodies in various countries that monitor product claims, formulations, etc. It could be your compensation plan paying out too much/too little or even incorrectly. Or maybe your software and supporting infrastructure is not scalable as you begin to grow. Any of these things could eventually lead to disaster. Sometimes there is just no way to know where the “attack” will come from.
Weigh the risks versus rewards
Whatever the reason, sometimes it makes sense to switch providers when the life or longevity of your company is at risk. In many cases, it may not be life or death, but you may want a better quality of life or greater capacity to reach your long-term goals. After all, with a “bad heart”, you won’t be climbing mountains anytime soon. In these cases, it makes sense to switch providers to have better security, better performing software, additional features, ability to do custom development, or lower overall costs.
Just know that there are always risks when switching MLM software. Anyone that tells you otherwise is lying to you. Just like there is a risk of death, although small, when going into open heart surgery, there is likewise a risk that if you don’t take this seriously and plan accordingly, you could kill your company. Unfortunately, we have seen this happen with companies and it’s never pleasant.
Find the right doctor
Just like finding the right doctor is key, a critical first step is making sure you don’t put your company’s life at risk by going with an inexperienced company that is a newcomer to the MLM software space. The opposite is also true. Going with an “old doctor” that isn’t up on the latest life-saving techniques can also present problems. Companies that have been around forever may be built on ancient code that is very costly to update. Do your homework. Spend time evaluating the software. Look at the track record of the company you are investigating. Ask hard questions. Sometimes it’s easy to think “cheap”, but it’s advisable to look at price last. Make sure they have all the features you need, or can build them for you within a reasonable cost and time-frame. Just like you wouldn’t go across the border to find a “cheap” doctor to do open heart surgery on you, it’s important to realize that in both life and business you often get what you pay for.
Get ready for the pain
It’s a simple fact that open heart surgery is painful, and it takes months to recover. What many don’t realize is that implementing new MLM software is also painful. And yes, it’s not uncommon to also take months to recover. People get so focused on all the new and exciting features, they often forget it could take weeks or months to get to the point where those features will actually outweigh the initial risks. If your system is severely shocked from the trauma, it can take even longer to recover. It’s important to follow the prescriptions given to you by your software partner so that you can minimize the pain.
Don’t rush the process
If you were laying on the operating table with your chest completely open, and someone came in and told the doctor that he had to wrap up a typical 12-hour operation in just 4 hours, how do you think that would make you feel? What shortcuts would the doctor take to put you back together? The same holds true for a MLM software migration and implementation. Doctors and project managers alike follow a rigorous process and generally know what to expect based on past experience.
If your new software vendor tells you that they can migrate your data and launch you in just a couple of weeks, run the other way… and fast! It’s time to find a new doctor. Rushing the process will lead to shortcuts and shoddy workmanship. Instead of stitching you up properly, you may be left exposed to dangerous (and often unforeseen) consequences down the road. It’s fine to demand timelines from your provider. Just make sure they are realistic or you’re putting your company at enormous risk.
Mitigate the risks by communication
My dad’s doctor clearly communicated the process he needed to heal. Similarly, it’s imperative that you communicate with both your corporate team and field leadership about the possible challenges that you may face. Proper planning, processes, and mitigating any deadly side effects (i.e. serious software glitches that impact your bottom line), all play a vital role in the success of the operation (i.e. implementation). What facilitates all this is good communication. Both the patient (i.e. the company) and the support staff (internal and external) must communicate and work together effectively for a proper recovery to take place.
Have adequate support staff and train them well
Getting your heart repaired isn’t a one-man job. As talented as the surgeon may be, he does not operate solo. He relies on a trained support staff. These positions carry out many important roles in the operating room, intensive care, and physical therapy. Likewise, a successful MLM software implementation requires a solid support staff. We have found that both corporate marketing and customer support play a critical role in this process. By disseminating valuable information both internally and to the field in a timely manner, they can address training and support issues before they become a problem.
As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Make sure to properly train your staff on the new system and that they in turn, teach the field how to use it. This will save a lot of heartache. Above all else, make sure your software vendor can provide you the support you need. It’s all well and good to get a new heart, but if there is nobody to take care of you after the surgery, things will go downhill fast.
Learn to walk before you run
Doctors want you up and walking for short stints a day or two after the operation. However, if you were foolish enough to try running a 5k after surgery, you’d pass out from the pain and put your body into shock, further endangering your heart and chance of recovery. The same adage “learn to walk before you run” also holds true with MLM software implementation. Get your system up and running properly before implementing any grandiose plans that require additional custom development.
The reason for this is simple. The shock of a system migration alone can be hard enough on a company, not to mention drastically changing processes, commission plans, or large program changes. Adding additional changes on top of everything else can bring about more stress and further weaken the company. Strong companies can generally bounce back just fine. However, those with a weakened immune system (i.e. poor company culture, lack of funding, no clear direction) may never fully recover.
Switch your MLM Software with confidence
Overall, heart surgery often outweighs the risk of impending death by prolonging life and also improving the quality of life after recovery. The same holds true for many companies that elect to switch MLM software. With proper planning, realistic management of expectations, and supportive follow-up care, your company can reach new levels of peak performance. It can be terrifying to make that leap. After the recovery period, our hope is that you will reach new heights and never look back. Xennsoft has participated in dozens of successful software migrations. We have the tools and resources to make the transition as smooth as possible. We can’t guarantee you won’t feel the pain, but we have a qualified, experienced support staff ready to take your company to the next level and beyond.