The allure of New Year’s resolutions is pretty irresistible for a lot of us, but the frustration of broken resolutions is something every single one of us understands. What about your business goals for 2018? Which ones did you accomplish? Was “Find a new AMS” on your list last January 1? The year before that, even? Most of our clients struggled along with an AMS that underperformed or that they knew wasn’t meeting their staff and member needs for years.
In this article we will quickly:
- Identify the biggest reasons associations like yours end up making a switch in their AMS.
- Give you a way to start tackling this project right now.
- Outline helpful next steps to help you finish this project in 2019.
We’ve been partnering with associations since 1996. We’ve seen firsthand that these are the most frequent reasons associations finally make a needed switch in their AMS:
- The team is frustrated with a complex system
- Your platform doesn’t reflect today’s technology; members expect more
- Your vendor charges to make small changes
- Lack of actionable business intelligence
- Weak integration with other systems
What do you think? Do some of these sound familiar? That first one on the list was such a big issue for so many of our clients. Sometimes it’s easy and clear what the problem with your AMS is. But is it clear enough to take action? A lack of clarity is often a huge roadblock lurking in that general problem, so let’s look at what you can do right now to start getting the clarity you need to move forward.
You need a reliable, comprehensive survey of your staff and members. Too often, the person or people complaining the loudest (or most recently) get all the attention when it comes to solutions. Everyone on both sides of your organization uses your AMS or is affected by it. So you need to clearly know what everyone needs, and what isn’t working.
Your chance to take immediate action on this project starts here.
Make a list of questions, whatever you can think of right now, that might go in a survey about your AMS for staff and members.
- What tasks does your staff perform that might be related to a problem area?
- What complaints do you remember hearing from staff?
- How easy or difficult are the processes that are in place today?
- How long does it take to perform certain tasks?
- What processes directly impact the user experience for members?
- Are there usability complaints?
Your list, for now, doesn’t need to be comprehensive, but give it some time and capture as much as you can in this first pass. Part of the goal here is to take things out of the anecdotal and into more quantifiable terms.
Think about ways you could gather this information: an online survey, focus groups, informal sessions at staff meetings, or phone calls. You know your people well enough to know what method might be most effective. See if you can pick a plan to try and a date to conduct the survey in the first half of January 2019.
Schedule it with reminders in your calendar. Making resolutions public is one key to keeping them, so pick a couple of colleagues that will benefit from seeing this project through, and let them know what you’re thinking and planning.
If you take the time to really ask and really listen to your people, you should get the clarity you need to move forward through the end of the first phase in finding a new AMS.
With some real and recent data you should be able to:
- Identify the biggest and most frequent complaints and problems
- Articulate the effects these problems are having (i.e. estimates for how much time is lost by staff or a list of how these problems could be affecting membership)
- Prioritize the needs of your staff and members
- Build a case for any internal buy-in you might need from other stakeholders
At that point, you’re ready to take a serious look at the feature sets of AMS solutions and see how they stack up against your needs and current frustrations.
Keep Exploring the Path to Your New AMS
In the meantime, if you want to keep exploring some of the issues to consider before committing to a new AMS, you might find these articles helpful:
- Stay or Go: Why Change Your Association Management Software
- The Pros and Cons of Moving Your Association to the Cloud
- The Great Divide: Content Management Systems & Microsoft Dynamics CRM Portals
Membership Dynamics: An AMS Solution From Cobalt
At Cobalt we’ve spent years developing an AMS solution that leverages the best of Microsoft Dynamics 365 and has the deep, core functionality associations need. Learn more about how we help membership organizations make an agile implementation to a more powerful, flexible platform that meets the growing tech demands of your members.