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.
*Spoiler Alert: If you’re ready to purchase but need help creating urgency, skip to Part Four.*
We see so many association managers begin the AMS search process with enthusiasm. From there, three scenarios can delay implementation.
Scenario #1: As they navigate the world of software, try to appease their board members and keep up with their other responsibilities, that enthusiasm dwindles. The process is overwhelming and once again, it gets pushed off.
Scenario #2: They do the initial demo and evaluate the companies resources. They’ve asked every question they can think of and almost ready to sign the dotted line when fear takes over. The thought of moving all of their important member data is daunting. They’re afraid of losing information or worse, getting into the system and realizing it’s not going to work.
Scenario #3: Repeat Scenario #2 but this time, it’s not fear that stops the manager. It’s a lack of urgency. They’ve survived thus far without an AMS, what’s the rush now?
While all scenarios pose serious problems in finding an AMS, I think scenario #3 is the most dangerous. Assuming that your association can survive, sustain and most importantly, grow, without a proper management system is a recipe for disaster. If growth in membership and revenue is not your #1 goal, you can probably survive without one. However, as those two objectives are the key to success in most associations, it’s likely you need an AMS.
To help spike urgency and action, we’ve compiled some the most compelling posts from our blog to help you determine your needs, pick a solution and implement successfully. By following this workflow, you’ll be able to pick you system without fear and reap the benefits.
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.
This phase can be smooth sailing or a complete headache. To ensure success, stay in contact with you designated project manager. Voice your concerns and always be honest. Tell them what you want but also be open and receptive to their suggestions. Treat this new project as a partnership, rather than a one-way relationship.
Part Four: Create Urgency
If you’re still not convinced you need an AMS, answer the questions below. Or if it’s your stakeholders delaying the project, pose these questions to them:
- What are your objections to moving forward?
- There’s never a perfect time to invest. Why are you waiting?
- What happens if you don’t move to an AMS?
- What is your #1 goal this year? Is your current strategy fulfilling that goal?
Sometimes, it comes down to budget and staff resources and those are objectives we cannot change. In that case, it may be time to review a system that could address one of your issues. Take it step by step, goal by goal.
If you need help or want to discuss your needs, feel free to reach out to us. We’re happy to help!