Choosing the perfect association management software is challenging. It’s hard to know what system will work for you. While the general needs of associations will fit within most AMS platforms, no system can fully accommodate. This typically means accepting workarounds or building custom modules. It gets even more complicated if you have a massive database and complex program offerings.

We understand the challenges many associations face when finding a new AMS. After helping many groups over the years, we’ve found a proven workflow to choosing the best AMS for your group.

Determine Your Needs

Before you begin searching for a new association management system, you need to determine your needs. Think about your required needs vs. wants. Analyze your current system – what module is used the most? What tool do you need to function at optimal capacity? If your group hosts many events, make certain a robust event module is at the top of your list. If your association is really large you may want to survey your members to find out what is important to them.

Budget and Timeline

Along with determining your needs, finalize a budget and timeline. Look at your yearly budget and see where an AMS could fit. Nail down a specific number or small range so you can quickly say no to software that doesn’t fit your budget.

After you’ve talked numbers, establish a due date. Think about your calendar year – is there a big event you’d like to use the new system for? Or maybe dues renewal season is coming up and you’d like to process all transactions in the new platform? Make sure that date is realistic for both you and your new vendor.

Do your research and them some

To help speed up the process, rule out software that doesn’t accommodate your top 3 needs. After you’ve decided on your top 5, set up demos of each product. Ask lots of questions and take notes. Think through your current workflows – what needs to be present in the new system and what workarounds can you make? Debrief after each demo while the information is fresh. What worked and what didn’t? Does it make sense to move forward?

Train and Ask Questions

AMS platforms can be tough to learn. They’re usually pretty complex and have so many tools you don’t even know where to start. At AMO, we always recommend training with our dedicated support team. While it takes some effort on the front end, operating the system with confidence is essential.

Even after 3 months post implementation, revisiting the knowledge base or connecting with the support center can be really beneficial. Every system out there has a myriad of nooks and crannies that you don’t know about. And within those areas, there’s probably a tool you’re looking for. So stay in contact with your support person and get familiar with knowledge base articles.

If you need help finding the right AMS for your group, give us a call. We’d be happy to help!

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