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50 Questions to Ask AMS Vendors During Product Selection

Glasswithborderv2 Are you ready for a new Association Management System? If you just answered ‘YES’ or ‘MAYBE’ then read on…

Finding the right AMS for your organization can be like Prince Charming finding Cinderella. Sure, you have a glass slipper – you know what you want. Now, how do you go about finding it?

Listed below are fifty questions to ask AMS vendors. These questions will help you eliminate the product(s) that are not for you like Prince Charming placing the glass slipper on.  Then you can narrow down your best options to find the perfect fit… your very own Cinderella!

PRODUCT INFORMATION

  1. What version of the product have you provided the quote for?
  2. Do you have other versions available?
  3. If yes, why do you believe this version is the best fit for our organization?
  4. What technology is the product built with?
  5. What software if any will we need to have installed on our network to access the product?
  6. Can the system be customized per our organization’s business rules?
  7. Are there any storage/capacity limitations?
  8. Do we have access to all the data in the system? Please explain what these options are.
  9. How many other associations use this version of the product that is similar to our organization? For eg. We are a trade association with 8 staff members, Information Technology outsourced, and 1.5 million in annual revenue.
  10. Does this version include the following modules Accounting, Chapters, Committees, CRM, Events, Fundraising, Marketing, etc?

CONFIGURATION AND FUNCTIONALITY

  1. Does your AMS allow for dashboards? Can they be customized?
  2. Is there a limit to the number of dues revenue models your product supports?
  3. Does the AMS allow for the membership dependency model? If yes, can you build in rules for this? For eg. Full Members of the organization must select exactly one chapter membership and one specialty group membership in addition to their primary membership.
  4. Can you add custom fields to capture additional (demographic) information? Are there any limitations?
  5. We provided you with a list of must-have functionality with our RFP. Are there any times on the list that you see as a challenge for your system?
  6. Ask specific questions on critical functionality and even request for this feature to be demonstrated.

ACCOUNTING

  1. Does the AMS integrate with my accounting software?
  2. What payment processor(s) can I use with the AMS?
  3. Are basic accounting functions – cancel, credit, refund etc done within the AMS or via the accounting software?
  4. Is batching capability available in the AMS?
  5. Can accounting features and functionality be restricted by security groups or user roles?
  6. Does the AMS support all different types of accounting?
  7. Do you have reports that correctly indicate deferred dues revenue?

WEBSITE AND MEMBER PORTAL

  1. Does the AMS include a built-in CMS?
  2. If yes, do you provide templates that can be customized for our organization and do you provide design assistance?
  3. Is a member portal available within the system?
  4. Can the member portal be styled so that it mimics the look and feel of our public website?
  5. We would like to implement single-sign on. Can this be done?
  6. Do you have a directory feature in-built?

CUSTOMER SUPPORT

  1. Is support included in the quote?
  2. Do you offered tiered support?
  3. Do I have a dedicated customer support representative?
  4. Is there a limit to the number of tickets/calls that can be made to support?
  5. What are the customer support hours and how can they be contacted?
  6. Is there a limit to the number of individuals on staff that can contact support?
  7. Where is your customer support located?
  8. What is the expected turn-around time of support tickets/calls?

MEMBER COMMUNICATIONS

  1. Does the AMS include an e-marketing tool similar to Constant Contact, Magnum Mail etc. that ties to the CRM?
  2. Do you have templates available and can we add custom templates?
  3. Do you have reports that show email open, click through, unsubscribe rates, etc?

IMPLEMENTATION AND SOFTWARE UPDATES

  1. How long with implementation take?
  2. Are implementation costs included in the quote provided?
  3. What steps are involved in implementation that is covered in the quote provided?
  4. Are upgrades included in the quote provided?
  5. How are upgrades delivered or applied?

AMS DELIVERY MODEL

  1. Is the AMS a software-as-a-service or on-premise solution?
  2. What hosting options, if any are provided?

COMPANY BACKGROUND INFORMATION

  1. How long has the company been in business?
  2. Is your company profitable?
  3. Do you have implementation partners that can assist us with this transition?

Last but not least, you should get access to a sandbox environment so that you can test some of your processes in. Make sure that all of your staff members have access to this sandbox and provide them with instructions and a deadline to provide feedback by. Getting your staff to buy into the product is crucial if the new AMS stands any chance of taking hold.

We will be posting information on AMS options for small-staff associations over the next few months. So if you are ready to make a change or just looking…. Stay Tuned!

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Gayathri Kher

Gayathri Kher

Gayathri is co-founder and President of fusionSpan, a technology consulting firm focused on serving the comprehensive needs of small staff Non-Profit associations. She has extensive experience in evaluating current IT infrastructure for small-staff associations and assisting them in implementing solutions that are scalable based on future needs. Prior to co-founding fusionSpan, Gayathri headed up the Information Technology department at the National Genealogical Society and also worked at the Association of American Geographers.

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