At Makespace in Cambridge, we have a collection of cardboard boxes tied together with string. We use Recurly to collect payments (except for a few odd cases), and it’s therefore also our de facto membership list, a proprietary access control system (Net2) updated by hand, Meetup for arranging both public events and space inductions and training, an unloved Wordpress site, a wiki which is quite useful especially for equipment info, a Google group for discussions, a mail server where we can set up aliases, and lots of Google docs and spreadsheets.
And it’s still better than the half-finished custom app we used to have, written before my time by some well-meaning member, which tried to tie some of these things together but basically didn’t work.
the hurdle of data migration is pretty high,
The biggest barrier is not data migration exactly, but the leap into the unknown. The system above looks great (I’m sure there are a few systems that look great), but what would we have to do to switch to it? Someone with quite a lot of expertise in the area, but also with enough time (i.e. a non-existent person) would have to research what the system does and how that fits with our existing practices and data, and work out what we could and couldn’t migrate, and how we’d have to change our procedures to fit better with the system, and what could be changed in the system to fit better with us … before we ever got to migrating any data. And probably do the same for three other systems because quite likely the first one we looked at would turn out not to be as finished as it had seemed or not to do what we needed. So before we migrate anything that’s a month’s work for a highly skilled IT professional, and that’s why these things don’t happen.
What could change this is some brave developer taking the plunge and setting up as a consultant for one of these bits of kit, going into a hackspace and working out how they work and what they can get out of the system and setting it up for them. Whether there are enough hackspaces yet, or they have enough money, to make this a viable business I don’t know. I’d suggest it’s something the Foundation should hope to encourage/support at some point.