More and more organisations are turning to mentoring programs to get better employee and business outcomes. With this comes increasing pressure to make sure programs are effective and managed efficiently. That means having to choose the best mentoring software that can make admin less onerous and outcomes more measurable is now a must.
There are a lot of players in the market now and with that comes difficulty in finding what software is best for your organisation and its needs. So what should you look for? What should you be wary of? How do you determine what’s right for your organisation and its unique needs?
In this post, we help you answer these questions and choose the best mentoring software for you.
Let’s get to it.
Assess the Needs of Your Organisation and Program
Before you even start asking for demos, determine what features are important to you. Ask yourself and the program’s stakeholders some questions to determine which features really matter so you can get the most bang for your buck. If you do it the other way around, you can run the risk of buying into features that you don’t even need.
Here are some questions you should have the answers to ahead of assessing mentoring software providers.
What kind of program are you running?
What are your goals? Is it employee retention? Adding value to industry association memberships through additional networking opportunities? Supporting post-graduate students through industry connections? Or is it to support diversity, equity, and inclusion in your organization? Start here.
Some mentoring software is made with certain kinds of programs in mind. For example, software that was built primarily for university mentoring programs may not be the best bet if you’re running a workplace mentoring program. On the other hand, something that was built with corporates in mind might not support a community mentoring program as well as you’d like.
Mentorloop was built with every type of mentoring program in mind. With an equitable matching algorithm to ensure the whole cohort gets good quality matches and the ability to support Personal Advisory Boards, Mentorloop is able to support all kinds of programs and all kinds of mentoring relationships. With this kind of flexibility built in and top notch support from our team of mentoring experts, you can be sure Mentorloop can help you create life changing connections and productive mentoring relationships no matter what type of program you choose to run.
How do you want to match participants?
If manually matching your cohort is an important factor in your program, software with a powerful matching algorithm won’t be of much use to you, but one that allows for rich user profiles with a customisable user filtering system might be invaluable.
Alternatively, if you want to completely remove unconscious bias in your matching, or are looking to match more than 100 participants, you definitely want a matching algorithm. And not just any matching algorithm but one that matches based on your unique criteria and makes equitable matches for your entire cohort.
Mentorloop has three types of matching available to program coordinators – Self Match (participant-driven), Manual Match (program coordinator-driven), and Smart Match (our equitable matching algorithm). So no matter how you prefer to match your cohort, we’ve got you covered.
Plus, Mentorloop supports both Self Match and Manual Match with our equitable matching algorithm through Recommended Matches. These recommendations are based on what we’ve learned has worked for the hundreds of successful mentoring programs we help run worldwide and are there to help you and your participants make better matches.
Curious to learn more about how Mentorloop does matching? Check out our guide.
What are your pain points as a program coordinator?
In the past – and still today – many mentoring program admin activities have been conducted via spreadsheets and email, which is completely unnecessary. Does the mentoring platform you are buying solve these pain points? Does it remove the menial tasks and annoying busy work that mentoring programs have typically involved?
As an example, if you foresee managing and keeping your program’s momentum up becoming a big issue for you, consider software that has built-in functionality to guide your participants in their mentoring journey. A great user filtering system that allows you to see things like the number of users who still aren’t matched or haven’t had a meeting with their mentoring partner would be ideal too.
Mentorloop’s momentum management tools help program coordinators ensure their cohorts are supported and kept engaged. With features such as Milestone tracking and contextual Nudges that guide participants through their mentoring journeys, program coordinators are released from the pressure of having to do lots of one-to-one support while being able to rest easy knowing no one is being left behind.
Likewise, if you know you’ll need to be delivering regular reports to your stakeholders, you’ll want to be looking for software with robust reporting and analytics functions. You’ll also want to make sure that you’re getting the most accurate and up-to-date reporting possible.
Do you plan to scale your mentoring program?
As your organisation grows, will the mentoring solution grow with you? It’s important to consider the long-term scalability of the software you choose. The software should be able to accommodate a growing number of users and relationships, without sacrificing performance or functionality. Look for software that offers pricing plans that accommodate programs of all sizes and can easily scale to meet your changing needs.
To learn how to build a scalable pilot mentoring program, watch this video:
Assess Your Choices: Questions to Ask Mentoring Software Providers
Once you have identified your organisation’s unique needs, it’s time to start evaluating the available mentoring software options. Here are some factors to consider.
What is their mentoring philosophy?
It is very important to get an early read on the type of mentoring philosophy a vendor is preaching. Is their mentoring ideology based on HiPo (high potential) growth? Is it an enterprise solution that requires long sales and training cycles? Is it focused on bringing low performers off the sidelines? Or is it focused on being accessible and affordable?
Like with all products, if mentoring software was built with a philosophy in mind, that’s what you will inevitably be practising. So try and find out what potential providers’ mentoring philosophy is and see if it aligns with yours and your organization’s.
At Mentorloop, we believe that mentoring is for everyone – not just those with established mentoring networks or those with high potential in their industry, company, or university. We belive in bringing people in from the sidelines and using mentoring as a way to empower everyone to reach their full potential in life and in work.
This philosophy informs how we develop Mentorloop and the decisions we make as a business. It’s why we have our Community Support Program that makes it easier for not-for-profits and charities to get access to mentoring software and offer it to their communities. It’s why we developed Mentorloop Pro, a more pocket-friendly version of Mentorloop that caters to smaller organizations. And it’s also why we created an equitable matching algorithm that guarantees every mentor and mentee a good match instead of perfect matches for some and below-average ones for many.
WATCH: Mentorloop COO and Co-Founder Heidi Holmes talks about Mentorloop’s equitable matching algorithm
What will the participants’ user experience be like?
Oftentimes, because mentoring software vendors are selling to HR, D&I, or L&D teams, they get caught up building solely for program coordinators and overlook the needs of the end-users – the participants. But if you are to build a scalable and sustainable mentoring culture at your organisation, you need to make sure that program participants are having the best experience possible. After all, who will want to keep using a product that doesn’t work for them?
The software should be easy to use and navigate, with clear instructions, and a user-friendly interface. Look for software that offers a user experience that doesn’t require extensive training or technical expertise to use.
Mentorloop’s Participant Dashboard isn’t just designed to provide support and guidance for mentors and mentees in their mentoring journeys. (Although it does an exceptional job there as well!) It’s also designed to keep them engaged and take accountability for their goals. Plus, because no one ever has to feel like they’re going at it alone, we make sure your mentors and mentees can celebrate wins big and small together with their mentoring community via their Highlights.
How will this provider handle my organization’s data?
Is the software compliant with data protection regulations?
Data protection is a critical concern for any organisation, and it’s important to ensure that the mentoring software you choose is compliant with relevant regulations. Look for software that offers robust data protection features, such as encryption and secure data storage, and that is fully compliant with GDPR and other relevant data protection regulations.
Mentorloop takes data handling and protection seriously. We are Cyber Essentials Certified, GDPR Compliant, and registered with the UK Data Protection Regulator – the ICO.
How will this provider support our program & set us up for success?
All software platforms and programs have some kind of learning curve. Will your mentoring software vendor help you and the users through this part of the process? Do they have the infrastructure in place to support thousands of users in addition to hundreds of program coordinators? Will they help you share the most useful outcomes with your stakeholders?
Mentoring isn’t a plug-and-play activity for most people. It isn’t a practice that people naturally do well. Is teaching mentors and mentees your responsibility? Or is it the responsibility of the software provider? A good mentoring provider has expertise in what good mentoring looks like – and will ensure that users follow a framework that results in success.
When you choose Mentorloop Enterprise, we support you, the program coordinator, as you build your program and put you on the road to success. Our team of mentoring specialists do more than just onboard program coordinators. They plan your program with you and ensure you have the necessary knowledge to maximise Mentorloop and support your participants when you launch. They also help you kick-off your program, as well as hold regular strategy sessions to make sure that your program continues to provide value and grow.
How does this software analyse and report data?
“You’re only as good as what you measure” rings true when it comes to managing a mentoring program. What kind of data does this software give me? Does it only record the time my participants spend meeting? Can you easily measure ROI on your program? Can you see who is getting the most out of their match and who isn’t? Does it show you when to intervene and rematch a pair of individuals? Quality mentoring software can assist with reporting on the health of your program – right down to the individual.
WATCH: Why Mentorloop Doesn’t Measure Mentoring In Hours
The mentoring software you choose should allow you to monitor the progress of each mentoring relationship, track the completion of goals and objectives, and showcase the success of the program to stakeholders. This can include features such as progress reports, analytics, and data visualisation tools.
Mentorloop not only gives you real-time accurate data at the individual and program level – it also gives you beautiful, shareable reports that you can export at any time. The data you get from Mentorloop isn’t just pretty though – it’s also actionable. Your dashboard gives you support as you run your program via Insights – data-driven guidance that suggests actions that you can take to improve your mentoring program.
Will this fit in with my existing tech stack?
Check what programs and apps each software integrate with. Do these integrations fit in with the way your organisation works? Is the software accessible to all? How easy will it be for participants to learn how to use it? Nowadays, people expect seamless remote experiences. Integration to common assets like Teams, Zoom, and Slack should be included right off the bat.
At Mentorloop, we believe the best mentoring happens wherever you are. So we made sure Mentorloop fits into the way you and your participants like to work and communicate. With seamless scheduling and integrations with communications apps, mentors and mentees are kept engaged and motivated while you, the program coordinator, get great visibility on the state of the mentoring relationships in your program.
Does This Fit My Budget?
And finally, after all these things are said and done – can you afford it? Many enterprise software solutions can be exorbitantly expensive, creating a real barrier to entry. Look for a provider who fits within your budget – but also within the context of your program. Consider the balance between cost and features to arrive at a place where you feel comfortable.
Evaluate the cost of the software in relation to the benefits it will provide, not just the dollar value. Consider the potential return on investment of the software, taking into account factors such as increased employee engagement, improved retention rates, and enhanced skills development.
Another important thing to consider is the level of customer support offered by the software provider for the price that you are paying. Determine if you’re happy enough with limited support if it means a lower price, or if you are willing to fork out more money to have access to expert advice from mentoring specialists.
Ultimately, the key to selecting the right mentoring software is to carefully evaluate your organisation’s needs and goals and to choose a solution that will support those goals effectively.
A Final Tip On Making The Right Choice: Get Into The Reviews
When assessing your options, don’t forget to consider user reviews and testimonials before you schedule your demo with software providers. Take note of comments from other program coordinators on features that are important to you but also don’t overlook comments from mentors and mentees who are the end-users of the platform. Because as we mentioned earlier, it’s so important that your mentors and mentees actually like using the platform.
A few things to look out for:
- Issues with the product’s features
- What program coordinators think of the customer support
- How mentors and mentees find the user experience
- How the provider responds when issues get brought up
Don’t hesitate to ask providers about any issues you may have identified through these pieces of feedback, both on the program coordinator and participant side. The more informed you are, the more confident you’ll feel about whatever choice you make and the more empowered you will feel when running your mentoring program.
Mentoring software is a fantastic piece of kit for anyone running a mentoring program – be it for an industry body, workplace, academic institution, or not-for-profit. The way to choose the best mentoring software is to make sure you know what you need and want from one and that you get really familiar with how to maximise all the tools and features available to you.
We’d love to show you how Mentorloop can ease the admin burden of managing your program! Have a chat with us and see a demo of how Mentorloop works by booking a demo.