Category Archive: AMS Journey

Your AMS Journey: Selection to Adoption – Step 10: Prepare To Go Live

Noel-Shatananda March 4th, 2021 by

The end of Your AMS Journey is in sight – you have undergone testing and training, and are now ready to prep for launch. In fact, preparing for go live is something the team has to keep in mind throughout the entire project. Here are some important items to consider:

Constituent Communication

We recommend that the association begin informing their constituents of the new AMS at least 3 – 4 months before the desired go-live date. The first communication should inform them of the fact that in 3 – 4 months time, they will be a new system and state a few advantages they will directly benefit from. One month from go-live, a second communication should go out to give more details around the date, potential down time, specific benefits as well as drum up enthusiasm about the new system. A third communication should be sent out to state the exact dates and any additional information needed ahead of launch.

Data Freeze Date

project planning

As part of preparing for the go live, determine a date on which all transactions in the system will be halted. This means that there will be no new transactions in the legacy system after that time. All transactions that need to occur will be recorded manually to be applied into the new AMS when it comes online.

Final Data Conversion

The final data migration begins on the data freeze date, and is expected to go until all the data is migrated to the new AMS and has been validated. The cycle 1 data migration that occurred earlier would have provided guidance on how long this activity should have taken.

Portal User Accounts

As part of the final data migration, all portal user accounts need to be created. Additionally, passwords need to be set to what they were in the legacy system, or a communication must be sent out to constituents asking them to reset their passwords.

Go/No-Go Decision

Once all the data is migrated, auditing of the data is complete and is deemed ready to move forward, the go, no-go decision is taken. This decision relies heavily on what items have been reported that the association can live with, have work arounds for and can fix post go live and those that are go live blockers.

Contemplate a Soft Launch

Considering the new AMS will be new to staff and your constituents, if your situation allows, you can contemplate taking a longer time to turn on the constituent facing portal and give staff time to get acquainted first. This splits the stress that staff will have to face day one having to answer an irate constituent on the phone, while still not being totally confident of where in the new AMS to get the information.

Contact fusionSpan For More!

For those following the series, we are nearing the conclusion of our Journey! The end is in sight, and we are close to delivering the long-awaited system both to members and internal stakeholders. Stay tuned for more as we outline the rollout phases of your platform, as well as final action items for you to be taking to conclude this project.

If you are seeking more regarding your AMS platform, or for any of your CRM questions in general, do not hesitate to contact our talented team here at fusionSpan today!

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Your AMS Journey: Selection to Adoption – Step 5: Discovery

Noel-Shatananda November 25th, 2020 by

By this stage of Your AMS Journey, you have made all the crucial decisions regarding choosing a new product and implementation partner. With your platform and partner selected, now it is time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. To begin, you will engage in a discovery.

Clients are often unable to understand the need for a detailed discovery. Organizations will believe that their conversations with a salesperson, or even the RFP responses, should be adequate for the project to begin. Unfortunately, that is not usually the case.

The discovery is an opportunity for the implementation teams of both the client representatives and the Systems Integrator (SI) to learn about the tactics needed to implement the AMS and see what is needed to bring the vision to reality.

In the previous post, I mentioned concentrating on the ‘what.’ This is the time to get into the ‘how.’ Here are some items to think about as your begin the discovery phase:

Take The Needed Time

Contemplate taking the necessary time to go through a deep and thorough discovery. Rushing a discovery will lead to an implementation that will be incomplete and potentially fail.

Imagine not spending time going through the architectural plans when you want to build a house. Moving rooms around after the build is impossible.

Share The Good With The Bad

During our discoveries, we frequently hear in great detail about all the failures of the existing AMS. We recommend that clients be comprehensive and share what works, as well as what does not. We want to ensure that we implement a product that alleviates the legacy system’s pain points and provides and maintains the functionality that has worked.

Core Team Is Key

The involvement of the core team is key to success. In our previous step of the process, we introduce the core team and highlight its key members.

The core team needs to provide the SI with the processes and pain points they face in each area and department of their association. They will be the ones signing off and accepting the various modules of the product implementation later. Their acceptance has a direct impact on adoption across the organization.

Seeing Is Believing

During the discovery meetings, the client should demonstrate the old system and processes to the systems integrator. In turn, the SI should demonstrate stock product functionality to the client.

The demonstrations can be short but will help the Core Team visualize the solution and buy-in quicker.

Solutions, Please!

As you go through the discovery, please ensure that the requirements are captured in-depth with adequate solutions. They could be stock product features or customizations that might be required to support your organization’s particular needs.

Document Everything & Sign Off

Having strong documentation of the required solutions is key to success, as they serve as the scope that drives the project’s acceptance criteria later on.

Ensure there is a sign-off of the relevant modules of discovery documentation by the appropriate department. This provides the opportunity for each department to own their piece of the implementation process. It also guarantees that each department actively participates in the implementation process and later champions the adoption within their own department.

The point of a discovery session is to highlight what you have, what your organization wants, and what you need to move forward. Remember, the discovery is an opportunity for the implementation team of both the client representatives and the systems integrator to learn about the tactics needed to implement your new AMS platform.

Do not hesitate to reach out to fusionSpan for additional resources, and stay tuned for the upcoming blogs as we jump further into the implementation process!

Your AMS Journey: Selection to Adoption – Step 4: Product Partner Chosen, Now What?

Noel-Shatananda November 12th, 2020 by

You made your product selection, and are excitedly looking forward to implementing your new AMS platform. Now comes the decision to select an implementation partner.

Look carefully at who you plan to use to implement your chosen product. You want a team that understands your business, knows how to integrate all the best of breed systems that you plan to use, and is experienced. The implementation team from the product company could be a great fit, but evaluate if they possess the experience to be your comprehensive systems integration partner.

Far too often, we see associations make the product selection and expect the implementation partner to take them to the finish line. That can be a recipe for failure. Here are some areas that need consideration as you get ready:

Assemble Your Implementation Team

  • The Project Manager (PM): Identify a project manager for the new AMS implementation. Implementing an AMS can be time-consuming, requiring a lot of coordination, organization, and communication, and might require up to 20 – 24 hours a week on average. This time commitment will be higher in the beginning with discovery, will be slightly lower during the build/execution phase of the project, ramp back up at user acceptance testing, and go live. Frequently we see associations assigning people to the role who are unfamiliar with project management, are unaware of what an implementation requires, and, more importantly, already have a full-time job. If you find yourself in such a predicament, we recommend hiring a part-time external project manager to help. The expense will pay for itself ten-fold with a successful implementation.
  • The Project Sponsor (PS): Identify a project sponsor for the implementation. This person is usually someone from the executive team who keeps a finger on the pulse of the project and is responsible for the project’s success. The PS usually meets with the implementation partner’s PS monthly and ensures that the project is on track. The sponsor check-ins are usually held independent of the project manager’s check-in and gives the sponsors a chance to discuss items that either side sees and that the PMs are unable to handle. This is also an escalation point for the PMs and the members of the core team on either side as it relates to the project progression.
  • The Core Team (CT): Behind every successful implementation is a great core team. Your core team should consist of staff members from every department that will be using the AMS or will be impacted by its implementation. Having a mix of a power user (staff person) and a manager (decision maker) per department represented is crucial to success. Having only the staff person will result in the system being designed for today while having only the manager will result in the system being designed for tomorrow disregarding the nuances of today. Lastly, select people who will want to own their piece of the implementation and will be your champions across the organization. This will have a direct impact on adoption.

Develop a Timeline and Mutual Processes

  • Kickoff: Have a formal kickoff meeting with all of the staff that will be using the system and the systems integrator. This meeting should have Association leadership in attendance and the Executive Director laying out how the AMS will tie into the strategic vision. This helps clarify to staff the importance of the project and also ensures their participation and commitment.
  • Communication: While there are many aspects of a project that will be discussed during the kickoff, we would like to highlight the importance of communication. Ensure you use a collaborative tool for all communications between the members of the teams. We have seen teams use emails and it has been disastrous as information is frequently lost, especially if there is a change in resource.

Manage Your Data Wisely

  • Data Governance: The implementation of a new AMS could be the best opportunity to visit your association’s data governance. Contemplate bringing in a consultant to help if you should need to.
  • Clean data: As you contemplate the many aspects of data governance, begin thinking of how you are going to get clean data into the new AMS. We recommend not trying to use the new AMS for cleansing the data, even if it professes to have great capabilities for it. Rest assured that once you are in the midst of the implementation, adding data cleansing to the mix will prove detrimental.

Know What It Will Take

We often see associations overlook what a new AMS implementation truly takes in terms of the association staff’s time. Ensure that you talk through your staff’s time commitment with your chosen implementation partner to consider what it will really take to implement a new AMS.

For more resources surrounding an AMS Selection and Implementation Journey of your own, don’t hesitate to reach out to our talented team at fusionSPAN today!

Your AMS Journey: Selection to Adoption – Step 2: Always Have a Request for Proposal

Noel-Shatananda October 16th, 2020 by

As an organization that specializes in AMS support and implementation, we typically step in after the selection of an Association Management System has already been made by your organization. Our first step is to ask the AMS partner or association for their Request For Proposal, but a surprising number of clients never issue one.

What is a Request For Proposal?

A Request For Proposal (RFP) is a document used when an association is seeking support or consultation on a tool, product, or service for their organization to leverage. The RFP is designed to outline the requirements for a specific project, and is used to solicit bids from vendors for the association to consider during the process.

While there are a variety of ways to format the proposal, they typically take time and resources to create. Make sure this is a project your association is fully committed to doing before beginning the RFP process.

Here are some things to consider as you create an Request For Proposal for your AMS Journey:

Clearly Defined Needs: This builds directly off Step 1 in Your AMS Journey, “Ask Why.” Be sure to have a high level set of needs with a strategic vision as you begin outlining this document.

The More Detail, The Better: Now, take that strategic vision the organization has and break it down into detail level requirements. Do not go into the tactics (the how) but clearly state the requirement (the what) in an AMS agnostic way. A typical example could be, “the new AMS supports memberships that can be anniversary (day of purchase) or calendar (yearly) based.”

Hire a Vendor Selection Consultant (VSC): Contemplate hiring a vendor selection consultant who can help you get the details finalized. They usually come with deep knowledge on what an association your size should typically look for. Larger organizations with a bigger staff need to consider this more, since the complexity of their processes are usually higher.

Caveat: Some VSCs may come in with a lengthy list of potential requirements that an organization your size may typically need. Ensure you choose the ones that are most relevant to your organization for the present and the near future. However, beware of adding bells and whistles that you do not need into the basket.

Reduce Complexity: Work with the consultant who would be an unbiased third party to evaluate your existing processes and make the hard decisions on which processes stay, and which ones need to be eliminated. Beware of legacy workarounds: we tend to see a lot of processes that organizations want us to implement that were actually workarounds put in place to overcome a deficiency of the legacy AMS.

Evaluate Bylaws: Oftentimes fusionSPAN has been asked to implement a piece of functionality because the bylaws mandated it, when in reality it made very little sense. We recommend that the association take this opportunity to look at its bylaws carefully to evaluate its relevance during the request process.

It’s your blueprint: The RFP will be the blueprint of the tool that will take you into the future you aspire to march towards. At the end of the day, ensure you are confident and happy with your blueprint.


There are a variety of resources and templates online for your association to use when creating a RFP. Make sure to highlight your organization information and required details for this implementation, as well as budget info, deadlines, and any questions you will have for potential vendors. Remember, the idea of this proposal is to specify your needs to help find the best fit for your association.

Stay tuned for Step 3 of Your AMS Journey: Selection to Adoption, where we discuss choosing the right Product Partner for your association. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out to fusionSPAN with any of your AMS implementation needs!