5 Questions You Must Ask Potential AMS Solution Providers
They say the only constant is change, but that doesn’t make change any easier. One of the biggest headaches felt by organizational leaders is changing your association management software (AMS). Any comfort in the familiarity with your current platform is overwhelmed by the heartburn of an AMS that’s just not meeting your business needs.
That means rolling up your sleeves and committing to choosing a new AMS. But first, it’s crucial to make sure that your AMS solution provider is exactly the right fit.
Here are five pointed questions that will help you get full value from your AMS solution.
1. Have You Successfully Worked With Our Type of Association Before?
Many AMS solution providers have the capability to work with different types of associations. However, it’s best if your provider has experience working with your type of association and can demonstrate that they understand your key requirements. You need to know upfront whether they can be successful with your organization or if this is a stretch. If it is the latter and you still want to move forward with them, be aware of the risk that this presents to your organization.
2. Are you sure this Solution has all of the Functionality you need?
The beauty of using an AMS provider is that you can get the exact tools your organization needs to succeed. You might need a completely revamped website, event management technology, fully PCI-compliant payment processing, complex fundraising capabilities, unique financial reporting, and certainly membership management. While it might be tempting to find a solution that does business exactly the way you do today, resist that urge. This is the time to consider improving processes through the use of a proven solution that has figured out how to efficiently perform many of the processes that you do everyday. Also, you should expect that the solution provider is future proofing their solution so that it continues to provide new value to your organization years down the road.
3. What About Usability?
A common concern from associations that have worked with a provider before is the usability and reporting of the AMS. Usability is paramount. Your staff needs to be able to simply leverage the software with a reasonable amount of training, or they won’t make full use of its advantages. Please don’t short change your team by trimming the training and education budget. An AMS is a complex technology and your staff need to be provided with clear training to be comfortable with the new technology and probable new processes.
This ease of use applies to your membership and constituents, as well. Their adoption of new processes should be obvious, clear, and simple. There is nothing worse than rolling out a new AMS only to find that you’ve just made life for your membership exponentially more difficult.
4. When Should I Expect Updates to the AMS?
To stay functional and efficient, all software needs to be updated routinely. Too many updates can interfere with your business, while not enough updates will reduce the value of your AMS and may compromise its security features. Talk to your prospective vendor about what kind of update schedule you should expect and what happens if you don’t update the software regularly. How much effort is expected on your part to apply the updates? What level of assistance do they offer? How much does that help cost?
5. What Kind of Support is Offered and at What Price?
After your solutions have gone live and been implemented into your business processes, you may still need occasional support. Actually, the first 90 days will undoubtedly require daily or weekly assistance. This is normal. The system is new and regardless of the amount of training and education you receive, change is hard. People will make mistakes, some functions will not work exactly as you thought, and you’ll want a helping hand close by to get you through the first few months. Ideally, you’d get that support from the same provider who designed the system, as they know it best. Although, there are other resources that you may consider that can be equally adept and sometimes even better suited to help you once you’ve gone live. Either way, it is important to know ahead of time how much that support will cost.
Software selection is a bear, but Results Technology Group simplifies the process by finding associations the right software solution providers that best fit your organization. Results Technology Group provides technology solutions to our clients with best-in-class software selection, project management, and business technology leadership services. Schedule a free 30-minute technology discussion.