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Your AMS Journey: Selection to Adoption – Step 1: Ask Why

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By Noel Shatananda |October 1, 2020
Association Management Solutions (AMS)Best Practices

Welcome to Your AMS Journey: Selection to Adoption, a blog series presented by fusionSpan. Throughout our work providing consulting, implementation, and support services to non-profits and associations, we have seen our share of successes and challenges that the entire selection and implementation process involves when adopting a new Association Management System (AMS).

In this series, we will shed light on the various steps of the AMS journey your association will face through twelve blog articles, with each one offering specific insight as you move throughout your AMS selection and implementation process. Let’s start at the beginning!

What Is An AMS?

First off, an Association Management System, commonly called an AMS for short, has become an essential tool for membership based organizations to leverage when maintaining a database of member information. In fact, almost all non-profits and associations today use membership management software in some capacity for their organization.

Within the AMS, associations are able to process membership dues renewals, event registration, email marketing and more. Although these platforms are not an all-in-one tool, an AMS allows you to deliver more value to your members in an efficient manner, with seemingly increasingly capabilities. There are a variety of systems and features at different price points, so make sure to evaluate more than just one platform when implementing a new AMS.

Step 1 of Your AMS Journey: Ask “Why?”

As we work with associations during implementation of their chosen AMS, we like to ask them the simple question “Why? Why did you as an organization believe you needed a change from your existing system?”

We hear a lot of reasons: technical, infrastructure, database architecture, reporting, lack of features in a particular area, and many more. Sometimes we hear the strategic vision of the organization is focused on digital transformation, and adopting a new AMS is the logical next step in that process.

As you contemplate identifying and implementing an AMS, here are some topics to consider:

Step 1 of Your AMS Journey: Ask “Why?”

Strategic Vision

Strategic Vision

Clearly define your organizational strategic vision first, then choose a system that will help you accomplish that. As simple as that sounds, many organizations have not articulated their vision at the strategic or executive level, and they expect a system to automatically take them to a better place.

Clearly Defined Needs

Clearly Defined NeedsDefine the explicit high level areas that you expect your new AMS to handle seamlessly, remembering that your AMS cannot do it all. Believe us when we say that the success rate of those who have tried to make their AMS a one-stop-shop is not high. An example could be a single source of truth for all constituent data, membership, and committees, while you might be fine to have your certification needs handled by a best of breed learning management system that integrates tightly with the AMS.

Focus ForwardFocus Forward

Armed with your strategic vision and clearly defined needs, lay out some of the features you would like in each of the modules. Stay away from the tactics, but think at a higher strategic level to define what you want, not how it is achieved.

Beware of the Rear View Mirror

Beware of the Rear View MirrorThis ties directly to defined needs and looking forward. Most of the time we see associations define their future needs based on what their existing AMS lacks, and forget current features they are utilizing. Remember to build a comprehensive list of “Must Haves” and “Nice to Haves” when it comes to features and capabilities.

Upgraded Lately?

Upgraded Lately?We frequently find that associations do not invest in keeping their AMS upgraded to the latest version, often because upgrades are costly. This tends to lead to a lack of knowledge and adoption of newer features. As you evaluate a new AMS, it would benefit you to ensure you are aware of all the newer features the latest version of your existing platform supports. It will provide you ideas on features to look out for in your new AMS.

While this is by no means an exhaustive list, these topics will be a great starting point for your non-profit or association to consider while selecting a new platform. Stay tuned for Step 2 of Your AMS Journey: Selection to Adoption, where we will demonstrate the value of a Request For Proposal (RFP) during your AMS selection!

In the meantime, if you have any questions about this article or your AMS journey in general, we would be more than happy to help you along the way!

Noel Shatananda
Your AMS Journey: Selection to Adoption – Step 1: Ask Why

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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