“Truth is the ultimate power. When the truth comes around, all the lies have to run and hide.” -Ice Cube
Whether you’re a fan of Ice Cube’s work as a solo artist, his contributions to N.W.A or are just here to learn about making technology purchases for your association, you know the importance of gaining a single source of truth…for your members, their interactions and your organization.
As a member-focused organization, your association management technology is the heart of your business. A good association management system (AMS) allows you to manage your organization’s data within a single platform, empowering your organization with the insights and tools to work smarter and focus resources on your mission, not your technology.
With that being said, the process for evaluating and selecting the right technology can be daunting. Whether you’re replacing a homegrown legacy system or starting from scratch, building a list of requirements will be the most challenging and the most critical step of the process.
Each step in the evaluation process is important, but the step that is often rushed is the process of understanding your needs and identifying requirements.
Understand Your Needs
- Enlist the help of various departmental stakeholders beyond just the buying committee. Outlines the teams and departments that will be using the technology. This can and should include member services staff that are creating new member profiles and signing up people for programs, executive members who are leveraging the data to develop insights and drive forward the organization and events staff who are planning your annual conference. Are all of these individuals represented in the committee that is compiling your needs and goals for an AMS?
- Ensure that you have a comprehensive, thorough list of requirements before you ever begin your search. This will improve your odds of ending up with a solution that can meet the needs of your entire organization.
- When gathering this information, evaluate the business processes that are needed as part of your association management system. This exercise creates an opportunity to reevaluate legacy business processes and areas of inefficiency.
- Keep an open-mind and remind staff why you’re having these conversations- to acquire the right tools to save time, streamline operations and free up resources to work towards your mission. If the tools are not achieving these objectives, why are you expending your efforts to acquire them?
Build Your Wish List of Requirements
To get started building a list of requirements, outline the goals and objectives of each area of the business, including a wish list of what each program hopes to achieve with the new system. Examples may include:
- Support complex membership and event types
- Streamline new member acquisition
- Provide greater visibility into member needs and trends
- Deliver efficiencies to maximize staff time
- Stand up reliable, secure systems that will withstand changing technologies
- Protect member data
- Integrate with best-in-class marketing tools
- Ability to access reporting and analytics to understand what’s working and what’s not
- Manage personalized communications across various channels
- Provide ROI and data to support the organization’s initiatives
- Accommodate data intelligence, create workflows and clear audit trails to manage the organization’s finances
- Drive participation in annual events and meetings, whether it be as an attendee, sponsor or exhibitor
- Evaluate the operational and financial status of meetings and events throughout the event lifecycle
- Streamline key operational processes to deliver a smooth experience for event organizers, attendees, sponsors and vendors
Once you have a clear understanding of your organization’s needs and specific criteria, you’ll be ready to take the next step of drafting a request for proposals!