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Step 6 of Your AMS Journey: Define Scope

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By Noel Shatananda |December 10, 2020
Association Management Solutions (AMS)Best Practices

With the discovery stage complete, you and your staff let out a sigh of relief. The team is happy the implementation is moving along, and members are eagerly anticipating all of the features they expect the new AMS will bring to make their lives easier.

What’s In and What’s Out

As you review the requirements within the discovery documents, you need to decide what is critical to the business. Therefore, the team must evaluate what is in scope and what can be set aside, at least for the moment. Contemplate some of the following as you endeavor to make the decision:

  • What’s In and What’s OutBusiness Criticality: Evaluate the business criticality of the features you would like implemented. Maybe this item was implemented in your existing AMS but provided very little value. Is it worth the time and effort to replicate and implement it in the new AMS?
  • Resource Impact: Keep a close eye on the financial, time, and staff impact of every feature you plan to implement. Just because the AMS offers a feature does not mean it needs to be implemented. Every feature that is implemented requires time spent setting it up, demonstrations, training, standard operating procedures, user acceptance testing, and long term maintenance.
  • Customization: Most newer systems today tout their ability to be customized to fit your exact need. While this is excellent, it can be a double-edged sword. This topic alone can be a series of blog posts, but the primary takeaway would be ‘do not customize unless absolutely necessary.’ Always weigh the cost of the customization and its long term carrying cost against the value it brings your association.
  • Implementations: Ensure you consider your present implementations carefully, charting a path forward with the new AMS. Consider the fact that the new AMS may not perform a particular function as well as a best of breed system. This is usually the best time to integrate the functionality instead of relying on the AMS’ possible sub-par version of the platform.


It is very common to break the project down into many phases, so you get the project off the ground and a portion implemented quickly while you build other phases as time passes. Let’s discuss some advantages and challenges to consider:


  • The Board: It took time for the Board to approve the new AMS budget, and now they are impatient and eager to see the results.
  • Quick win: The phase 1 budget is obviously lower than the entire project budget, so value can be delivered to the association quicker while the future phases are scheduled. This can sometimes even allow teams to budget across multiple years.
  • Iterative learning: Phases provide the association with an opportunity to learn from mistakes and adapt quickly.
  • Enthusiasm: Having a good phase 1 implementation creates excitement for the staff around the prospect of a new platform and keeps them engaged and enthusiastic.

Challenges to Manage

  • Implementation Fatigue: An AMS implementation takes a lot of effort by the staff to support and keep the daily responsibilities on track. It is common for teams to feel fatigued at the end of phase 1 and need to take a breath. This could impact future phases, resulting in delays.
  • Evaluate business-critical functions: Sometimes, in a rush to phase, the necessary due diligence is not done towards ensuring that all the parts of the business have a viable way to operate day 1 within the platform. This includes ensuring that the new AMS supports any dependent functionality that was supported by the legacy AMS.
  • Budget: While budget management is crucial in all implementations, managing it well is even more important in a phased project since you want to ensure that future phases are adequately funded.
  • Costs more, takes longer: While it may be counterintuitive for some, a phased implementation will cost more than a one time big bang implementation. Every stop and start in an implementation results in repeated tasks, such as user acceptance testing, training, and go-lives.

While the challenges may be daunting, it is still preferable to phase projects, as the advantages overshadow the challenges that could be easily managed with a well-prepared team.

Challenges to Manage

Communication is Still Key

Defining scope and determining each phase’s contents are challenging, but communication to the stakeholders is still vital. Implementations can get off to a dreadful start if this is handled poorly. Stay tuned for our next installment of Your AMS Journey for everything you need to know about preparing for Implementation, and don’t hesitate to reach out to our talented team here at fusionSpan for all of your AMS questions and needs!

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Noel Shatananda
Step 6 of Your AMS Journey: Define Scope

Noel enjoys collaborative environments and is driven by the challenges of a growing industry. He values putting client goals first, explaining, “When we enable clients to be the best they can be, the company automatically benefits; it’s simply the by-product of fully enabling passionate human beings.” Noel heads up the Delivery Team and is constantly working to strategically move fusionSpan forward toward its vision of bridging gaps through technology.

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