Selecting great Sports League Management (SLM) software can be a challenging task given the numerous offerings that are available in the market. With the extensive management functionality these packages offer to a Sports League organization, SLM becomes a critical component of managing the business and automating the administrative operations. While dozens of solutions are available in the marketplace, there are vast differences in their functional capabilities and software architectures which ultimately determine customer satisfaction. This article’s goal is to help you figure out how to best match your needs with the offerings available in the market.
Sports League Management defined
At a high level, Sports League Management software helps manage the registration of participants (players, coaches, volunteers, officials, etc.) into the organization, managing and tracking player data as well as team assignments, and managing the master schedule of all events (practices, games, and tournaments) for numerous teams across multiple field/court resources. SLM software is a powerful tool for the organization in officially registering customers, collecting registration fees and merchandise revenues each season as well as flexibly balancing the calendar of events. Great Sports League Management software will guide your customers through an easy to understand registration process, help you build out Programs, Divisions, and Teams including their rosters, and provide you with a flexible event scheduling platform that helps you manage through all the event changes that occur during a season due to bad weather or other unforeseen conflicts. Great SLM software will also help you effortlessly manage the myriad of communications required in coordinating hundreds, if not thousands, of players (and families) across the numerous events scheduled during a season.
Given the significant number of software offerings available in the market today, choosing a Sports League Management software platform can be a challenging task. Initially, you’ll want to understand if the functionality within each of the major subsystems supports your organization’s needs, including Program Management, Registrations, Scheduling, Communications, and Website Development/Management. An additional area to pay attention to is Reporting. It’s valuable for SLM software to make it easy to get data into the system, but does it also help you produce valuable information and actionable insights into running the business? Your customers may also be demanding a smartphone app that allows them to collaborate and access important notifications from anywhere. Beyond checking boxes on functionality, the software architecture and customer service philosophy may be of greatest importance in your decision-making process.
In working with thousands of organizations over the last five years, SquadFusion has found five major attributes that make for a great Sports League Management software solution which ultimately helps you create a happy, satisfied customer experience. Number one is ease of use, not only for your players and families using the system but for your administrative team that will be configuring the system to help manage the business. Number two is personalization. It can be confusing to have to change your business to fit the software. Shouldn’t the software be able to change to best fit your business? Number three is communication and collaboration – keeping hundreds, if not thousands, of players (and families) well informed over the course of a season results in happy customers and minimizing the number of awkward, complaint-oriented conversations. Number four is smart automation – a system that can automatically generate or complete the next step in a process to reduce your overall administrative burdens. Last, but not least, is number five – customer service and responsiveness. Let’s dive into each of these five major attributes to help your organization make a great choice in selecting new Sports League Management software.
Ease of use – intuitive, straight-forward
For the last 20 years, the general public has been accessing web-based software applications. And over the last 10 years with the advent of smartphones, the general public has significantly advanced their utilization of apps linking to data in the cloud. Given that users have probably worked with hundreds of websites and apps, they now have a solid sense of what works well – simple, intuitive, and easy to use. Beyond the end user’s perspective, the software also needs to be easy to use for League administrators who are responsible for configuring and managing the system. Most Sports League administrators are not software engineers with a formal computer science education and software programming experience. They need a Sports League Management software solution that provides powerful capabilities in managing Programs, Registrations, Scheduling, Communications, Website content, and Reporting, and at the same time is easy to configure and manage those important subsystems. For these non-technical folks, great Sports League Management software supports the configuration of complex processes via a clean, straight-forward, menu-driven systems that you can manage yourself. Easy to use Sports League Management software eliminates the need to run back to the software vendor to wait days for customer service to return your call and weeks to get what should be a simple modification completed.
Given the wide variety of sports across the globe, as well as the size differences of various sporting leagues, there is a huge variation of terminology that is used, as an example around organizational structures and roles. Your organization has selected terminology and has been using it for years. The last thing you want is inflexible software that forces your organization to change your terminology and the way you’ve been conducting business. Change is always hard and learning a whole new set of terminology is disruptive and confusing. Why should you be forced to change your business to fit the software? Great Sports League Management software has a flexible architecture that allows you to configure your terminology into the software to fit your organization and the way you’ve been successfully managing the business for years.
Communication and collaboration
Customer satisfaction is developed upon the fundamental pillars of communication and collaboration. Delivering the right message out to the right audience in a timely fashion is the ultimate goal. If you’re sending all your girl's teams information about an upcoming boys tournament, all your girl's teams will start to ignore your communications. And when a relevant, important piece of information is sent to them, chances are low they will receive it because your previous communication mistakes (spam) placed you on ignore. Missing important communications then becomes a customer satisfaction problem with awkward, complaint-filled conversations. Great Sports League Management software has powerful communications and collaboration capabilities that help you effortlessly build accurate distribution lists so that your important messages are delivered to the appropriate audience in a timely fashion building communications trust and customer satisfaction.
The goal of Sports League Management software is to automate as many of the administrative functions within the organization as possible. Key benefits of SLM solutions start with eliminating manual tasks – collecting paper-based forms or rekeying data into spreadsheets. It may come as a surprise how many hours are spent on manual tasks which has an opportunity cost. How would you spend your time if you didn’t have to complete those manual tasks? Would more free time allow you to work on more strategic goals – expansion into new geographies or developing new programs that expand your customer base? Great Sports League Management software provides task automation and takes it a step further – understanding a multi-step business process and based on a preliminary result performing the appropriate next step in the process. A classic example would be an event cancellation due to bad weather. Great SLM software recognizes that the event cancellation needs to be followed by a targeted notification to all the relevant players (and families) making them aware of the cancellation. No need for Administrators or the Coach to have to manually prepare and send that communication, the system automatically understands and performs those tasks freeing Administrators and/or Coaches to focus on more important matters.
Customer Service and Responsiveness
As Sports Leagues are a service business, customer service and responsiveness are critical components of success. Why do your customers choose to do business with your Sports League versus taking their business to your competitor? The Sports League Management software market is no different – today’s software industry business model is called Software as a Service, aka SaaS. Great SLM software companies deliver industry-leading customer service and responsiveness as a way to differentiate themselves from competitors. Your organization should expect issues to be addressed on a scale that is measured in hours, not in days? Great Sports League Management software companies have outstanding customer review scores that were calculated across a broad number of customers, not just a few. Great SLM software companies can tell you exactly who will be your single point of contact in managing through any issues and provide direct access to them via phone and email.
In summary, a great Sports League Management software solution can help transform your business through improved communications and smart workflows. And while there are several complex business processes that need to be automated, great SLM software is easy to use for both your customers as well as your administrative team responsible for configuring and managing the software. Great SLM software should be flexible to adapt to your terminology and processes, not forcing un-needed change and disruption to your organization. And lastly, great Sports League Management software is delivered with industry-leading customer service and responsiveness – the foundation upon which a partnership can be built in helping you successfully manage and grow your business.