Mentoring programs have been proven to be a valuable tool for individuals and organizations looking to unlock potential and boost performance. However, as mentoring programs become more complex, it can be challenging to manage them effectively. What may have started as a small, simple program can turn into a big, multi-location program with continued success. We have had a number of people ask us, “Why do I need mentoring software?”, “When does mentoring software become a necessary component of a mentoring program?” and “When does mentoring software go from being probably-not-necessary – to a great investment?
In this blog post, we want to explain where we draw the line based on previous experience and customers we have worked with, as well as discuss key considerations to help you decide whether mentoring software is right for your organization and program.
Key Considerations for Deciding Whether Mentoring Software is Right for You
Before investing in mentoring software, there are several factors to consider to determine whether it is the right choice for your program. While mentoring software can provide many benefits, it may not be necessary for all mentoring programs. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind:
How many people are in your program?
If your mentoring program is relatively small, with only a few individuals involved, you may not need the added functionality that mentoring software provides. However, if your program is larger, with multiple mentors and mentees, mentoring software can help you manage the process more efficiently.
We recommend exploring the use of mentoring software for 40+ mentoring program participants – or around 20 mentor-mentee pairings.
Because at 40 people, things start to get messy, time-consuming, and inconsistent when conducted manually. The onboarding and matching parts of the mentoring program (pre-mentorship) start to become very admin intensive – while communicating with participants and keeping track of the program becomes almost impossible.
Many of our customers start their programs at around the 40 or 50-person mark and scale the size of their program as they go (and as they see positive outcomes). And while a program with 10 to 20 participants might be managed very well with spreadsheets and emails, at 100 participants, it can become overwhelming to manage and track each participant’s progress and communication. And let’s not even consider doing this manually with 500 to 1000 participants.
Pro Tip: With dynamic participant management features such as powerful filtering and tagging, bulk actions, and more, Mentorloop can help you stay on top of a larger program with ease.
Do you envision scaling your mentoring program?
Another major reason for deploying mentoring software is that mentoring is becoming an increasingly important facet of your organisation’s toolbelt, whether that is for new hire training, learning and development, or inclusion purposes.
Mentoring programs in the growth phase and are earmarked for expansion will benefit greatly from the tools that mentoring software comes with. Program coordinators will find that managing a mentoring program effectively at scale is nearly impossible without mentoring software. So if this is the case with your program, it’s the right time to find a more specialised tool, so that you can effectively and efficiently scale mentoring to more of your employees, students, or members.
If your mentoring program is currently at 10 pairs but you plan on scaling it to 50 or 100 more pairs, then you might as well become acquainted with mentoring software during your pilot and utilise all of its benefits now – as it is going to be completely necessary moving forward. Once the benefits and results of mentoring are taking root, scaling these benefits will be as simple as sending out an invite form to any new mentors and/or mentees.
Want to learn how to build a scalable pilot mentoring program? Watch this video:
As your program grows, mentoring software like Mentorloop can help you keep track of all participants, monitor progress, and ensure that everyone is getting the support they need.
And if you plan to expand your mentoring program to include participants from different locations or time zones, then mentoring software becomes even more of a must-have. It can provide a platform for participants to communicate and collaborate with each other even if they are in different parts of the world, and for you to keep track of their progress and provide support.
Do you have mentoring program expertise?
If you just aren’t quite sure how to build an effective mentoring program, then it’s best to employ the help of mentoring software.
Mentoring programs are tough; they involve a lot of coordination and preparation, and they impact your people directly. They are something you really do want to get right (or at least very close to right). And if you’re a first-time program coordinator, it can be daunting.
Mentoring software provides an instant framework for your program. it comes with everything you need to get your program from start to finish – straight out of the box. All of the onboarding and participant management tools; all of the matching tools; all of the resources and content; all of the momentum management tools, and all of the measuring and tracking capabilities.
In essence, after some initial work, your great mentoring program builds itself!
But what if you already have experience running a mentoring program?
You may have developed many of the skills necessary to manage the process efficiently. But even the most experienced mentoring program managers can benefit from the tools that mentoring software provides, especially when dealing with a large cohort. With mentoring software, program coordinators can be even more efficient with admin and free up time to focus on providing the best possible experience for participants.
Pro Tip: If you’re running a large program for the first time and need support, check out Mentorloop Enterprise. On this plan, you get access to expert strategy sessions with our Mentoring Specialists to help you run the best mentoring program that aligns with your goals.
Do you have any spare time?
Time is an extremely valuable commodity, and not many of us have much of it to spare. And as we’ve learned in years of working with mentoring program coordinators, a lot of them aren’t mentoring program coordinators by trade – which means that starting and running a mentoring program is not their core competency – nor is it supposed to command a significant portion of their time.
However, managing a mentoring program can be incredibly time-consuming, and therein lies the problem. For this reason, many L&D, HR, or diversity and inclusion professionals who run mentoring programs choose to assess the high opportunity cost of managing the program and opt to buy a software platform that takes care of all the manual and time-intensive tasks.
Mentorloop streamlines your sign-up process and participant management, enables you to match your participants in a fraction of the time it would take you otherwise, allows you to gather feedback to more effectively and efficiently guide your cohort through their mentoring journeys, and even ensures your data is actionable and ready for sharing to your stakeholders.
So once you’ve got your program set up with Mentorloop, it’s simply a matter of maintaining oversight – and getting your everyday work done.
Do you want to track and measure mentoring program success?
And lastly, if measuring and reporting on mentoring program success is a part of your mentoring wish list, then mentoring software is a must.
Mentoring software enables you to capture program engagement (even communication via email) and general program health, which is impossible without software.
Measurement has been a historical weakness of the organisational mentoring program, with organisations loving the premise and perceived results of mentoring but struggling to quantify them in an ROI-like fashion. This is where software becomes invaluable, especially with large programs. The inputs of mentoring can be measured and analysed – as can the outputs.
With Mentorloop’s detailed analytics and reporting tools, you can gain insight into the effectiveness of your program and make data-driven decisions to improve it over time. Mentorloop also gives you more than just “vanity metrics” like the number of times a user has logged in, which doesn’t really give you a good picture of your overall mentoring program health. Instead, Mentorloop measures the quality of the relationships within a program and whether your participants’ mentoring relationships are giving them value.
If you’re keen to learn about how Mentorloop measures program success, watch these videos:
Mentoring software can be an incredibly powerful tool for managing mentoring programs. But we understand that it may not be the right choice for every program. By considering these key factors, you can make an informed decision about whether mentoring software is right for your mentoring program.
As a marketer by trade, I understand many of the pros and cons of going down the software route too late. Oftentimes, you only get to that aha moment when you start using a software platform (post-purchase), and only then do you understand the extent of your wasted (non-optimised) time.
Just like with mentoring, there is a point in the marketing and marketing professional lifecycle – whether that point be based on growth, budget, headcount or goals – that investing in software is smart. And then a slightly later point when it is absolutely necessary.
Software saves time; it saves hassle; it saves money; and it’s often a much better way of completing the task/s at hand.
Keen to get started? With Mentorloop Pro, you’re only 4 steps away from launching your best mentoring program yet!