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Before we begin this post, it is important to understand the lack of common vernacular for association management software. It is referred to as membership management software, customer relationship management, “my database,” or some may call it by their system’s actual name. This can cause all sorts of problems when you’re researching the best solution — especially if you’re calling it one name and other companies refer to it as something else. So what should you consider when choosing an association management software? We’ve rounded up our 7 best tips for choosing the right option for your organization.
Have all the right people in the room, but be sure not to not have too many cooks in the kitchen. Ensure that you have key representatives looking at the solution from their specific department (finance, marketing, events, etc.) so that you uncover potential issues before making your decision. Also, consider having several demonstrations of the AMS for each department. However, adding too many people to the mix can easily derail the conversation. Ensure there is a clear decision-maker for each meeting in the room who can guide the conversation and gather input.
This is a critical one for both your staff and members. Let’s face it. If the software is too difficult to use, it causes frustration and no one will use it. Pay close attention to both the user interface and user experience of the software. The software needs to be extremely intuitive so staff members can easily learn it with little to no training. Make sure that you are able to create spreadsheets within the software since, more than likely, staff members are downloading data to Excel and maintaining an endless number of spreadsheets. Additionally, don’t forget about making the software easy for your members to access everything they need through your website or their mobile device. Make sure that they can easily access and update their profiles, download and pay invoices, and add user generated content, etc. It is critical that the software empowers and engages your members.
There is no good way to plan for the future without understanding what’s happened in the past. This is why reporting is one of the most important components of your software. Historically, reports from AMS could only be generated from 1-3 highly trained technologists in the organization. This leads to overloading of these technologists and not being able to get critical reports on demand. Therefore, you must be sure that reports are effortlessly generated and everyone in organization can easily generate the exact reports required.
4. Flexibility, but not too much
There is not always going to be a perfect solution for what your staff and members are seeking, so you may need to customize the software and/or integrate with other 3rd party software. Do this with extreme caution because customizing and integrating the software often leads to a select few people in the organization understanding the software. This can lead to difficulties in supporting the software (outside of the support team and the people that did the customization). It is highly preferable to get as much of the AMS under one roof as possible.
Remember that just because something can be customized does not mean that it should be. Customization leads to proprietary knowledge that only your provider and certain people in your organization contain. Therefore, you run into the key main issue where only certain people have that particular knowledge. This leaves you vulnerable if they are unavailable or leave the organization.
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The internet is the fastest growing industry ever known to mankind, so you need to make sure that you don’t get stuck using an ancient system that prohibits your organization to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. Take the time to understand the underlying technology of the AMS you are considering is built upon. Make sure the solution you are considering is hosted in the cloud and that the AMS is being updated on a regular basis included in the monthly subscription fee. This will allow for both your staff and members to access important information at anytime, any place, and on any device.
6. Engaging the Millennial and Z-Generation
It is important to account for the upcoming professionals in your decision making process. The Millennial and Z-Generation are used to being connected anytime, anywhere, and in anyway. Therefore, your solution needs to be extremely user friendly across all devices. You may want to consider putting website and mobile integration toward the top of your list of selection criteria.
7. Choose a Comprehensive Solution
You don’t want to cobble together a solution that requires 3rd party integration. Instead, find as much of the solution as possible in one application. Pure nirvana is finding one software program that meets all the needs of every department.
With these tips in mind, the last blog post outlines why you should strongly consider selecting Accrisoft Freedom as your new AMS.
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