MLS executives were asked, as part of one of Clareity’s earlier annual MLS Satisfaction Surveys, to share the top three things they would do differently in the system / vendor selection, contract negotiations, conversion planning, user training, or member communications. The following was some of the great peer advice offered:
- Seek more member input when making the selection.
- Demand that the vendor demonstrate public records availabilities, including mapping accuracy, and integration of third party tax modules for your locale before entering into contract.
- Require that the vendor is RETS compliant (sharing all types of data, not just listings)
- Ensure that the vendor reports and displays meet common default settings for internet browsers, email and printing.
- Make sure the vendor specifies target dates and implement stiff monetary penalties for not meeting dates.
- Some of the contract language was not specific enough on our part; we should have clarified to avoid confusion.
- More extensive training for MLS Staff
- The best thing we did was to rent a facility with 20 computers and conduct a week of hands on training. Everyone loved it.
- More member training, earlier.
- Negotiate for follow up training 3-6 months after implementation at no additional charge.
- Run parallel no more than a month. Require training before issuing passwords.
- Video training for members to learn the expanded features available.
System Design / Build
- Be very specific by including details of exactly what you want/need when asking questions.
- Make sure you understand what they Project Manager is doing and stay on top of them to be sure they do what you say, and not what they feel you should have.
- Plan more time for the design process. (6 months was not enough)
- Allow more time to proof data quality coming from membership system;
- Allow more time for affiliate vendors to test/use new exported data sets before cutover;
- Insist that the system be available for testing prior to cutover. We never saw screens until the day we were live.
- Insist that the vendor have a team of people on site, in our offices for 2 weeks after cutover to report bugs and errors.
- Have a nationally known consultant involved to express concerns to MLS vendor during installation.
- We finally learned that it takes a real team effort in communication among membership, vendor and MLS. This time we knocked on doors.
- Not use the consultant we used [whew – this MLS did not use Clareity!].
- From the beginning, insist on vendor honoring contractual obligations
- Continuously provide system documentation and manuals as the system evolves
- Select a less busy time of the year for the conversion.
- Too many hands in the pot! Members should go through a chain of command to avoid confusion and not go directly to the vendor with any issues or changes. One person should be appointed at the vendor and one at the board to run things through for changes, corrections, etc.
This advice is the “tip of the iceberg”. If your MLS wishes assistance with its selection and implementation process in 2014, please contact Clareity Consulting soon to start planning the project.
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