3 Rules for Choosing CME Software
When a CME provider approaches us for the first time, the conversation usually centers around two specific things:
- How do I know this CME software will actually solve my problems?
- Do I want to enter into a long-term relationship with this company?
Every provider has questions and concerns, but these are the fundamental issues they usually want to address. For starters, it’s important – no, essential – that our software effectively meet the needs of CME learners and administrators. If any feature whatsoever is missing, it could throw a wrench in their whole operation.
The conversation is also about us. When you choose a CME platform, you’re entering into a relationship with a vendor. You’ll count on that vendor for updates and support, probably for many years after the initial go-live date. You want to select a vendor you can trust and on whom you can depend – you want it to be a partnership.
Getting answers to those questions shouldn’t be a struggle.
It should be easy. From the first conversation with a CME software vendor, you should feel like you’re on a clear path to making the right decision.
To know whether things are on the right track – and get solid answers to those two fundamental questions – we recommend following three distinct rules:
1. Insist on transparency.
This is a great way to confirm whether you’re likely to have a good long-term relationship with a vendor. You’ve got to get the full story on every single aspect of the product and service experience. In other words, you need to feel confident about how things are likely to unfold should you enter into a business relationship.
When it comes to transparency, be sure your potential software provider:
- Understands your industry and anticipates your needs
- Listens to you throughout the process and provides substantive responses to your specific requests and concerns
- Tells you where your data is stored and backed up – and how to recover it if needed
- Offers an enviable service level agreement
- Eagerly answers every question you have and doesn’t beat around the bush about what the software can’t do
- Provides detail about the entire process from data import to onboarding to administrator training to day-to-day use
These conversation points don’t relate to what the software does so much as what it will be like to work with a particular vendor. Total transparency around these topics is a good sign.
2. See all aspects of the product in action.
Every vendor will demo their product, but you want a demo that’s more than just a scripted presentation. Come up with a list of features you want the vendor to show you, and have them demonstrate how the software renders those features for learners and administrators.
For example, maybe you want to see how learners request a printable transcript. Insist that the vendor show you the learner’s path to accessing, downloading, and printing the document.
The same goes for the administrator experience. If you’ll be publishing enduring content or recorded webinars and presenting them as CME activities, have the vendor walk you through the publishing process. They should be capable of showing you all aspects of that process, from adding the content to creating test questions.
And if they can show you features you didn’t realize were possible – but that you know will be useful to you – all the better.
3. Use the product for yourself.
There’s no substitute for sitting down, logging in, and using a product before you buy it. Take yourself through the entire experience, from activity completion and credit requests on the learner side to activity building and report generation on the administrator side.
At Rievent, we provide these “sandbox” accounts to organizations considering our product. They give you the opportunity to use the software as if you were a learner, so you can know what it’s like for professionals to use the system. They also help you get a sense of what it will be like to publish activities and analyze activity data.
After confirming that a product is capable of everything you’re hoping for, making the choice should be a snap! You won’t have to rely on information a salesperson told you over the phone or during a scripted demo – you can experience for yourself how capable the software is.
Following these rules gives you confidence.
Knowing what you’re getting makes it easy to decide on a product and a vendor. You should feel confident you’re making the right choice because you’ve actually used the product. What’s more, the vendor should be enthusiastic about helping you understand the product, not cagey and evasive.
With those three ingredients – transparency, in-depth demos, sandbox environments – you’ll be well on your way to upgrading the CME experience for learners and administrators.