Have you ever gotten something for free and then become disappointed because it wasn’t what you expected? Have you ever thought that something wasn’t worth your time, and if you’d known what it was to begin with, you would have passed on it and paid full price for the thing you wanted in the first place?
Board business is serious business. It’s easy to waste a lot of time fiddling around with tools and apps that don’t work together — or that don’t work at all. The complexity of businesses and nonprofits is such that they need electronic tools that streamline their processes; protect them from hackers; and are convenient, intuitive and easy to use.
So, just what do you get with free board management software?
What Do You Get With Free Board Management Software?
One of the things that most boards look for in board management software is useful features and benefits. Some board management software programs will give you a free trial. Unfortunately, you’re likely to find that your free trial limits the number of users you can have, provides little or no electronic storage capabilities, and gives you only the basic features. Such a trial doesn’t allow you to get a real sense of the program at all, so the only way to learn whether the program is worthwhile is to pay for it. That sort of defeats the purpose of the “free” trial.
A board management software solution only helps your board if it works. In the quest for the best features and the newest programs, you may be overlooking a very important component — customer service and support. If the system is not working for some reason, your board business may have to wait until a customer service representative receives your support ticket request and works on the problem, which could be anywhere from a few days to a week or even longer. If you’re able to leave a message, you’ll have to hope that a tech support person will call you back and that you’re available when the call comes in. If you have a problem on a weekend or holiday, you won’t likely get ahold of anyone at all. Poor or nonexistent customer support is one “benefit” of a free board management software program.
Your company or nonprofit faces cybersecurity risks around the clock, every day of the year. Hackers are becoming more sophisticated in their criminal attempts, but not so sophisticated that they have much luck tapping into large systems. It’s far easier to look for organizations with low-hanging fruit where it’s easier to find gaps in security measures so they can make a quick profit. When you fall short in your security measures, you’re placing your organization’s confidentiality, finances, strategic planning and confidential communications, as well as your reputation, at high risk.
The reality is that board management software companies can’t afford to give you much for free and still manage to stay in business for very long. All businesses need income to remain sustainable. So, when boards and executives can’t get what they need with a free program, they’ll work it into the budget to pay for a program that works. Companies that offer free board management software can’t give you the best features for free and they can’t staff the company with trusted, qualified IT staff for free. Companies that offer free board management software won’t be able to last in the marketplace and will soon be acquired or sold to another company. What will you do then?
Still another issue that comes with free board management software is a host of software tools that aren’t fully integrated with each other. There are lots of useful software programs available for boards, including email accounts, document storage apps, file-sharing apps, scheduling apps, voting software, and programs to track volunteer hours and donations. However, free programs won’t incur the expense of ensuring that all programs are highly secure or integrated with each other. That means that when one program is at risk of a virus, the virus can quickly spread to other apps and programs. A constellation of free programs is likely to be a time-waster and to lead to a constellation of headaches.
Isn’t It Still Free If It Doesn’t Cost Anything?
A free board management software program may not cost you anything upfront. Consider, however, the costs that you will incur because the free program doesn’t meet your needs. Pay attention to this list of costs you could be facing:
- Time — free isn’t efficient
- Money — lost revenues because of lost donations or lack of a secure platform for planning
- Lawsuits — poor risk management could cost you tens of thousands in damages and legal fees
- Downtime and continuity — you can’t do business when you can’t access board business materials
- Cybersecurity risks — crises can be very expensive, including legal costs, liability and problems caused by ill-preparedness and poor communication
- Convenience — the inability to access a working system 24/7 every day of the year on all electronic mobile devices
- Cost of switching programs — you’ll have downtime while searching for a better program and then you’ll need to retrain workers on the new system
- Reputation — there’s no amount of money that can replace your lost reputation
The Value of a Quality Board Management Software Program
The old adage “You get what you pay for” holds true with board management software programs. What organizations need is a board management software solution that provides a lot of value for the money. Once you realize the benefits of a platform that was designed by an industry leader like BoardEffect, it will be easy enough to see the cost savings in your board budget.
BoardEffect offers top-level security in all of its programs, including online board books, surveys, collaboration tools, reporting tools, document storage programs, file-sharing applications, new board member orientation tools and communications tools. BoardEffect is a cutting-edge leader in product innovation. Free board management software simply can’t compete with a company that understands your business and how boards work.
If you’re in the market to improve the way your board functions, it’s important to realize that free isn’t free and that free board management software can actually cost your organization thousands or more every year. In fact, most companies that offered free board management software have already gone out of business or were acquired by stronger businesses. Don’t waste your time testing out free programs. They will cost you far more than the cost of BoardEffect.