More than once, we have heard from associations that they hate their association management software (AMS) but they would never change it. One of the main sources for this statement stems from fears about AMS implementation. Through leading hundreds of implementations, the team at Naylor Association Solutions has seen it all. Here are some best practices to draw upon when you consider launching your first AMS or when you make the move to a provider that can help your association reach longer term growth goals.
Implement a new AMS with an open mind
One of the first steps is to not assume that the implementation and use of a new AMS will be the repeat experience of a past technology implementation fail or fiasco. This is certainly easier said than done, but going in with a clean slate and an open mind will allow you and your team to plan accordingly and pull from past experiences to help mitigate risks.
Assign a project manager
Secondly, as a “Project Management 101” staple, we recommend that your AMS implementation process should have a clear project manager. The right leader for the job is thinking about both a Plan A and a Plan B to help mitigate risk and avoid failure while focusing on major milestones to ensure an on-time implementation. This is the person who coordinates AMS needs across your organization, and identifies all the potential pain points of the implementation and how your team can work through them. Planning your team’s reaction to potential obstacles early in the planning process can help avoid additional implementation snafus down the road.
Identify AMS needs vs. wants
Set a realistic implementation timeline
It almost goes without saying, but we can’t stress it enough: Go in with a plan for finding and implementing new association management software, but be a little bit flexible! Think about your AMS implementation in terms of milestones or smaller projects, where each section builds off of the preceding section until you reach your goal of everyone at your association competently using a new AMS. Some associations will benefit from starting with their goal launch date and then working backward, while others might want to start from the beginning and work the project forward from day one to completion. Both practices are worthwhile as long as you and your team are realistic about the amount of time it might take to complete a section, especially when it involves your selected vendor building out customizations for your AMS.
Share your project timeline with your AMS vendor upon selection to confirm that your allotted time projections are achievable. Being transparent about your expectations will help tremendously in terms of working towards a successful AMS implementation and building trust between your association and your vendor.