As August comes to a close, it’s time to prep for the busy year ahead. If you’re still running your association through multiple platforms like excel, constant contact, Eventbrite and more, it may be time to consider purchasing an AMS. We see so many association managers waste time managing multiple platforms and completing manual tasks that could be automatically accomplished with one, centralized system.
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If you’re still on the fence about whether or not your group needs an AMS, check out our top blog posts on why transitioning to an association management system is the right move.
Is a majority of your day spent clicking copy and paste? If you spend more time organizing and updating your spreadsheet than you do creating great member experiences, it may be time for a priority check. Not convinced yet? Read through the scenarios below.
Scenario #1 (Excel Hell):
A prospective member you’ve had your eye on for a few months has finally converted – hooray! They’ve filled out your membership application and submitted their payment. As a result, you get two emails with said information and now have to copy paste each item into a separate field in your Excel spreadsheet. Their information also needs to be manually added to the association email contact list and you have to generate a one-off invoice. From there, you need to give them access to the online member portal by setting them up with a username and password. All in all, this process could take more than 25 minutes.
Scenario #2 (AMS solution):
A prospective member you’ve had your eye on for a few months has finally converted – hooray! With your integrated membership application, they are automatically added to the database. They’re also sent an invoice and are immediately able to log in to the member portal with the username and password they set up in the application process. A notification with their submission is sent to you and with 2-3 clicks, you send them a pre-written welcome email. Time? 5 minutes.
Does the first scenario sound like you? If your responsibilities revolve around processing new members rather than acquiring or retaining members, it’s crucial you find an association management system. Think about the amount of work it takes to recruit, sign, and retain one member. If you could decrease the amount of time it takes to officially sign that member, you could spend more time cultivating a great member experience.
Your association is constantly evolving over time – whether that be in size, leadership, location or mission. These changes can also affect how your member data interacts with your software, sometimes causing the need to move platforms. If you are considering moving to a different AMS, it’s important to first do a deep analysis of why you feel a move is necessary. Changing systems can be very challenging and take a lot of time. To better determine what’s the next best step, consider the questions below.
1. Am I using my current AMS to its full potential?
2. Is my database too large or too small for our current AMS?
3. What tools am I missing in my AMS?
4. Does our current AMS lack regular updates?
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.
Stakeholders Want a Say
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.
As an association manager, you’ve been tasked with finding an association management software for your group. It needs to include all the tools to manage your members, promote events, collect payments and tie everything together with an integrated website. You have a set monthly budget and determined a deadline. You begin the tedious process of searching for an AMS. After hours of calls, demos and copious amounts of questions to a sales rep, you’re almost ready to make a decision. Then, boom, it’s 6 months later and you’re still without an AMS solution. If this sounds like you, keep reading.
Part One: Determine Your Needs
Selecting an association management software solution for your membership association is a big responsibility and time-consuming task. After all, the decision you make will have long term consequences and can significantly affect the growth and overall health of your association. We understand that this task can seem daunting. That’s why we put together these tips for finding a AMS that’s a perfect fit for your association.
- Form a Search Team – Choose a well-rounded team to research, evaluate and demo AMS solutions.
- Appoint a Leader – Designate a leader to lead the force.
- Consider Your Needs / Requirements – What tools do you need to successfully manage your group? Be specific.
- Determine Budget – Set a defined budget to help eliminate software that’s out of your range.
Part Two: How to Choose
After determining your requirements and budget, it’s time to compile a list of potential vendors. Identifying requirements will allow you to quickly weed out software systems that won’t be a good fit. Set up calls with a salesperson and talk through your needs. Once your list is down to five or fewer, it’s time to schedule a demo.
By following the steps in part one, it’ll be much easier to cross off the groups that won’t work based on budget and needs. Now that you’ve compiled a list of solutions, it’s time to evaluate.
- Prep for Demos – Compile questions and determine the direction of the demo. Remember, you’re in the drivers seat. Don’t be afraid to direct the call.
- Demo Recap – After the demo, review what you learned. What did you like about the system? What roadblocks did you notice?
- Ask for Resources – Ask your potential vendors for case studies and testimonials. Review these resources with your team.
- Start a Trial – Hop into the backend and explore the tools needed to run your group. Note the flexibility of interface and if it’s user-friendly or not.
These steps ensure you pick a system that works with your data and your goals. This time also gives you the opportunity to talk through any potential roadblocks. Preparing for these challenges ahead of time reduces friction when they occur.
Part Three: How to Implement
- Invest in Training – Paying for training will get you up and running faster and be less time consuming than trying to learn your new system on your own.
- Schedule Time to Learn – Set aside time to go over training videos and knowledge base articles and set goals for learning the software
- Stay in Contact – Our best AMO installs have happened when the association admin and our team stay in close contact throughout the process.
- Test, Rinse, Repeat – Setup a test event when you’re not under a time crunch. This will allow you to work out any kinks you may encounter before you need to setup a real event.
- Be Open Minded – Make sure that you are flexible in organizing and configuring your data in a different way.
Finding an AMS that will fit your group is challenging. Moving your data and jumping into an implementation can be scary and take a lot of work. Despite your fears about what this process could be like, more often than not, moving to an AMS system will save you time and money.