Seamless Transitions: Choosing & Implementing a New Election Services Provider

An election services provider makes it possible for your organization to run fair, democratic elections. However, not all providers are a fit in the long run, and many organizations need to change their electronic election provider.

Change is a good thing, but the transition can be daunting. Whether you have a small, tight-knit club or run a global organization, a smooth transition to a new election services provider will set you up for success. In this guide, we’ll demystify the process of selecting the best voting vendor and equip you with the knowledge to make informed decisions.

From vendor selection to implementation, we’ll provide expert advice to help you navigate this important process. Follow these seven steps to find a provider that meets both your current and future needs.

Table of Contents

1. Evaluate Your Needs and Goals

Clarifying your needs is the foundation for finding a provider who ticks all the boxes—and it can help you eliminate anyone who’s a bad fit.

Evaluate your needs by:

  • Understanding the current state: Examine your current election process and take note of its strengths and weaknesses. Ideally, your next solution should support your strengths and fix areas where you currently fall short.
  • Analyzing long-term goals: You want to partner with this election services provider for the long haul, so define your long-term goals to connect with providers who can get you to the finish line. For example, maybe you want to increase member engagement, streamline the election process, improve security, or grow your voter base. Once you know your objectives, it’s much easier to find a provider with features supporting that goal.
  • Checking with members: Every organization has different demographics with their own preferences. Always consider member preferences when defining your needs. For example, does your membership prefer live digital voting or voting in person, the old-fashioned way? Send out a quick member survey to better understand what your members are looking for.


2. Identify Vendor Selection Criteria

Next, identify criteria to help you find the right vendor for the job. Use your goals from the previous section as guidelines for finding effective vendors. For example, if your long-term goal is to boost member engagement for a demographic that prefers digital voting, look for features like real-time voting, digital platforms, QR code voting, participation reminders, and election analytics.

Every organization’s vendor selection criteria will be different, but these are some popular options to jumpstart your search:

  • Security features like single sign-on (SSO), encryption, and authentication
  • Accessibility
  • Customer support
  • Scalability
  • Affordable pricing
  • Reputation and track record

Search for vendors who meet as many of these criteria as possible. You don’t have to make a decision right now. Compile their information in a spreadsheet to make it easier to compare their reputation, features, experience, and pricing in the next step.


3. Select the Best Voting Vendor

Vendor list in hand, it’s time to narrow down your options. Follow these vendor selection best practices to find the right provider for the job:

  • Assess their reputation: What is the vendor’s industry standing? Any reputable company should have testimonials, case studies, and reviews. While plenty of election services providers offer general election services, look for providers with experience in your industry. Vendors with industry-specific experience understand the unique challenges and requirements of your type of organization, which will help you get more value out of their services. It can even cut down on implementation time, allowing you to hit the ground running with the new solution.
  • Create an election RFP: If you’re trying to narrow your choices between a few vendors, create a request for proposal (RFP) to select the best election vendor. Their responses should break down exactly what services, technology, features, and support they offer, along with pricing. Evaluate at least three submissions to get a good idea of fair pricing for your needs.
  • Compare pricing: It’s tempting to go with the cheapest vendor at first glance, but focus on the value you get for the money instead. One provider might offer the lowest price but very little value, such as no voter support, making the transition even more challenging.
  • Check compliance and security: Data breaches are no laughing matter. As a membership organization, you’re responsible for protecting your members’ data. Find a provider that complies with all legal and regulatory standards, especially for data security and privacy. The providers should be happy to explain their security infrastructure and protocols. Bonus points if they’re SOC 2 compliant, run vulnerability assessments, and offer 24/7 monitoring and response.

When results matter, choose a proven election services provider like Survey & Ballot Systems. We offer tailored services and cutting-edge technology to help service organizations run accurate, fair, and secure elections. Trust matters in elections, so choose SBS for our proven track record in facilitating secure and transparent elections.

Ready to make the switch?

Contact us to learn more!


4. Plan and Execute the Transition

You’ve done the hard work of narrowing down your options and selecting the best voting vendor. But you’re not done yet. Before rolling out the new solution, your team should collaborate with the voting services provider on a rollout plan.

A well-thought-out transition plan makes a smooth changeover possible. Follow these steps to craft a strategic implementation plan:

  • Ask your vendor for advice: Don’t worry; you don’t have to do this alone. Any election services provider worth their salt will have an established transition plan ready to go. They should be able to customize a transition plan for your organization’s needs.
  • Decide on a timeline: What’s a realistic timeline for this transition? Take note if you’re still contracted with your previous vendor. Can implementation happen while you wait for that contract to end? Or do you have to wait until after the previous vendor contract expires? You also need a timeline to roll out the new system, which can take four to six weeks with an experienced team.
  • Set milestones and goals: Many organizations avoid transitioning to a new electronic election provider because they fear change. Don’t let the process overwhelm you—break it up into small milestones to design a manageable transition process. Each milestone should have specific deliverables, like technical setup, staff training, data management, testing, and the first live election. Once you know your milestones and general timeline, set due dates and responsible parties for each milestone to hold your organization accountable.
  • Involve stakeholders: Don’t overlook the value of involving various stakeholders here, including your board of directors, management team, support staff, and election committee. Of course, it might not be practical to poll all members for their opinions, so it’s best to go with a member committee to offer a member perspective on implementation.
  • Anticipate setbacks: Challenges and delays can happen during any kind of transition. Develop contingency plans for technical issues, delays, and training. Taking a more proactive approach minimizes disruption during the transition, so don’t overlook the power of a backup plan.
  • Regularly touch base with your vendor: You and the vendor are working together to roll out the new system. Manage this like you would any project, setting clear expectations ahead of time. Decide on a meeting cadence, project team, and communication expectations.


5. Train and Support Your Team

Even the most advanced technologies require an experienced team to produce results. Since your organization is used to the old way of doing things, training is a must to get value from the new system.

Develop a comprehensive training program that covers all aspects of the new system. It should cover:

  • Setting up elections
  • Managing voter lists
  • Monitoring the election process
  • Analyzing results

You may need to offer role-specific guidance, especially if you have a large admin team. Provide different training to address the unique needs of IT, member services managers, and administrative staff.

Reputable electronic election providers will also provide plenty of training resources and hands-on support to help with the transition. Survey & Ballot Systems offers assistance every step of the way, offering a dedicated support team, regular system updates, and briefings to keep your team in the loop. We’re happy to schedule regular review sessions to discuss the system’s performance, challenges, and potential improvements.


6. Ensure Continuity and Accuracy

Accuracy is crucial for elections. But a lot can happen during a migration, so take these steps to preserve the integrity of your elections during the transition to a new provider:

  • Careful database management: Ensure your new election partner has the correct data to administer your election accurately. This process should include pulling all correct fields from your membership database, including membership type, email, and mailing address.
  • Create redundancies: Always have a backup plan in case of data loss or a system failure. That might mean creating backup systems or playbooks to deploy in the event of a catastrophic failure. Hopefully, you won’t have to use them, but it’s always best to set these up from the start—just in case.
  • Test, test, and test again: Conduct extensive testing that covers all aspects of the election process. Test casting ballots, vote counting, result declarations, and any additional election processes. Create elections that mimic your current processes to spot any potential issues. Involving multiple staff members in the testing is also a smart way to validate the system from a user’s perspective and gather feedback before going live.


7. Measure Success and Plan for the Future

Transitioning to a new election services provider is no small task. At the end of any big project, it’s good to look back and ask yourself, “Was this beneficial to the organization? Is there anything I would change?”

You need to see results for your investment, so look back at your original goals. Did the transition solve your biggest pain points and put you closer to achieving your goals? If not, it’s time to return to the drawing board with your vendor and rebuild the system to serve your organization better.

Even perfect transitions can use a little fine-tuning over time. Evaluate the success of the transition and identify areas for improvement, such as:

  • Communication: How well did you communicate the transition and new process to staff and members? Were the communications timely, clear, and helpful? Send surveys or feedback forms to help you gauge just how well you communicated throughout the transition.
  • Voter participation: Voter engagement is critical for accurate elections. Compare voter participation rates before and after the switch. An increase in participation indicates you’re doing something right, while a decrease suggests you might need to rethink the system’s design or invest more in member outreach.
  • Return on investment (ROI): What’s the return on your investment in this new platform? Consider factors like cost savings, time saved on election management, and improvements in member satisfaction or engagement.
  • Errors and omissions: Analyze how often errors or omissions occurred during the new election process. Look for data inaccuracies or technical glitches. A decrease in errors is a sign of a successful transition.


Give Your Members a Voice With Survey & Ballot Systems

Change might not be easy, but it’s manageable, especially with the right process and vendor in your corner. Selecting the best voting vendor is key to running an effective, democratic organization that caters to member needs.

A thoughtful transition to a new election services provider reflects your commitment to transparency, member engagement, and adaptability. When accuracy and trust matter, choose Survey & Ballot Systems. Our tailored services and commitment to cutting-edge technology make secure, transparent elections possible for organizations large and small.

Take the first step: Request a quote for fully managed voting now.