You’ve done your research, demoed systems and asked all the questions. You’re finally ready to purchase your new AMS when stakeholders decide to halt the process. Why? Their financial investment is at risk. How can you convince them this is the right move?
We see this kind of battle happen more times than not. An association manager sees the necessity of an AMS to successfully run the group – but it comes with a price tag. Even if the initial investment isn’t astronomical, the thought of spending extra money can deter stakeholders because many associations have a tight budget. Along with the finance piece, stakeholders like to have a say in the direction of the group. They want their opinions heard. And rightfully so, if they are in fact supporting the association. So how can you respectfully listen to their concerns/ideas while also moving the project forward?
Stakeholders want to feel involved. Share all of your research in a convincing presentation that lays out the project scope. Clearly define why you need this system – as an administrator and for member benefit. Start a free trial in the AMS system and let the decision makers take a test drive. Be transparent about tools the system doesn’t have. If they’re concerned about the missing modules, tell them to pony up because that often means customization which translates to $$$. This part of the process can be drawn out if you’re not careful; keep the wheels spinning by staying in front of your stakeholders.
Let’s take a lesson from Jenna Christensen, a digital strategist at our parent company ArcStone who wrote a post on managing multiple stakeholders during a web redesign. The article also has a few takeaways from the Medtronic (a local medical device company) marketing team. Read the original article here >> How to Manage Committees or Multiple Stakeholders During a Website Redesign.
Clear Expectations from Start to Finish
“If expectations are clear and you gather input from staff right from the beginning, it will greatly improve your momentum and keep internal stakeholders happy” – Christensen
Keep your stakeholders involved and informed from beginning to end. They will appreciate the effort and transparency. Listen to their initial needs for a new system – the budget, tools, timeline, and staff involvement. Consider these variables in your search. If you have a large board or many stakeholders, conduct individual interviews first. Broaching the subject in a big group could get overwhelming and hinder your progress.
One Decision Maker
As the association manager in need of an AMS, you will likely be the one choosing the system. You’ve done the research and know what platform will provide the most appropriate tools. However, the individual writing the check – the stakeholder or CEO – will make the final decision.
“Ideally the final decision maker is your marketing director or leader of the project – not the president or CEO [or stakeholder] of your organization. Although the president’s insight is certainly valuable, having someone closer to the everyday work and conversations usually yields better results.” – Christensen
To make sure that one signature doesn’t complete derail the project, lay out all the reasons why you need the system. Provide clear-cut objectives that show ROI, membership growth and a positive future for the association. Identify all the costs from the get-go so they aren’t surprised by an extra expense later in the project.
They’ve Signed the Dotted Line… Now What?
“Rather than including all stakeholders or staff members in each key approval meeting, consider sending out status updates or memos on the project status” – Christensen
We all know staff meetings can quickly go from 30 minutes to almost 2 hours. Instead of holding physical meetings about the project, send out weekly updates. Brief them on timeline and budget. Keep them interested by sharing an exciting update.
Vendor + Stakeholder Partnership
“It is… better to hear advice or ideas directly from the expert instead of having them communicated secondhand by the staff,” – Christensen
By allowing stakeholders to create a relationship with your vendor, you’ll avoid miscommunications. The symbiotic relationship allows for open lines of communication and strategic problem solving. I find that many projects loose steam or direction because there are too many separate channels of communication.
Here at AMO, we want to help you make it easy to convince your decision makers. That’s why we have plenty of resources to share with your people, including a Board of Directors Review Kit, Case Studies and ample website examples. Contact us today for more information!