Almost all associations, regardless of size or the industry they serve, consider their association management solution (AMS) to be a business-critical application that drives the day-to-day operations and member initiatives. AMS benefits typically include the ability to streamlines workflow and automate every day tasks, enhance the analyzation of data and reporting and improve information organization. However, even your current AMS application can eventually outlive its usefulness, effectiveness and begin to impede your association’s ability to be successful. At that point, your association should begin to assess how to upgrade the current system.
If your association is experiencing one of the following roadblocks to membership success, it may be a sign that it’s time to replace your existing membership management software.
1. Basic Reporting and Analysis Take Forever
At the end of each month or quarter, does your association’s staff comes to a complete halt as they begin a lengthy (and manual) process to deliver moderately helpful reports and business insights? If so, they are probably using an outdated AMS that has outlived its effectiveness. Today’s forward-thinking membership management solutions include the ability create personalized queries, dashboards and visualizations for various departments without the need for an advanced degree, costly professional services or undue amounts of valuable staff time. The new era of smarter, simpler membership management platforms promotes effective decision making by personalizing individual dashboard views, automating the delivery of real-time analytics and including the ability to drill down to the underlying reports, data and member profiles. In comparison, “yesterday’s” AMS applications that only reluctantly cough-up a mission-critical reports after days of massaging and trial-and-error are a drain on resources and an obstacle to insight rather than a strategic advantage.
2. Your AMS Platform Doesn’t Work Well with Other Systems
Any software platform can “integrate” with another platform—in theory. And to compete in today’s competitive business environment, many associations rely on multiple integrations to best-of-breed solutions to manage their members and daily operations. And as these integrations between solutions become more common – and necessary – the quality and quantity of data in one system will need to sync more easily with the requirements of the other. For today’s modern cloud-based AMS platforms, integration should be relatively smooth and seamless. But if your current AMS only passes or receives data from another mission critical system such as your community platform, learning management solution or marketing automation platform with the need of considerable human assistance and a great deal of time, then it’s not really doing its intended job. Rather, your current AMS is effectively obstructing efficiencies and opportunities for innovation and probably an expensive inconvenience.
3. Your AMS Doesn’t Easily Bring in External Data
Associations are finding that a more complete and comprehensive view of member data is critical for driving relevant and contextual engagement. In fact, it’s often the insight gained from new data sources, including third-party solutions, that helps associations highlight recruitment, retention and revenue opportunities they might have otherwise have missed. But like the integration problem, if your AMS software doesn’t easily bring in data from external sources that could be a sign that it’s time to upgrade as well. And with features and tools that now come standard in modern AMS applications, many associations are pleasantly surprised at how flexible today’s membership management platforms are at integrating and blending data from multiple sources.
No AMS can please everybody, but if you’re running into one or more of these challenges, the cost of not making a change may well be more than the investment required to make a strategic technology upgrade.
This article first appeared in the April 2018 Tech Toolkit in Associations Now magazine.