Seven Pitfalls to Avoid When Implementing a new Association Management System

By Keith Stoute  on February 16th, 2023

Hold on tight, implementing a new association management system (AMS) can be quite the rollercoaster ride. On one hand, an AMS can bring all sorts of goodies to the table like streamlined processes, improved efficiency, and a treasure trove of valuable data. But on the other hand, if you don't watch out, the implementation process can be a complete disaster.

Don't worry though, we're here to save the day (or at least your AMS implementation)! In this blog post, we'll share seven mistakes to avoid when implementing a new AMS. Trust us, you don't want to make these mistakes. Your organization's reputation (and possibly your job) may be at stake. So buckle up and get ready to learn how to avoid these pitfalls and ensure a smooth and successful AMS implementation.

Mistake #1: not clearly defining your needs before selecting an AMS.
Not evaluating your needs prior to implementing an AMS is like going grocery shopping without a list - you might end up with a cart full of random items that don't actually make a meal. Do you really need that bulk-sized bag of marshmallows? Probably not. Similarly, without a clear understanding of your association's needs, you might end up with an AMS that has all sorts of bells and whistles you don't actually need. Do you really need a feature that sends out automated birthday cards to members? Maybe not. So, take the time to figure out what you actually need from an AMS before you start shopping. Your staff, board, and budget will thank you.

Mistake #2: Choosing a system that is not user-friendly
Stakeholders such as staff, board members, and volunteers are the people who will be using the AMS day in and day out, so it's important to get their input and buy-in from the beginning. Without their support, you risk encountering resistance, confusion, and frustration during the implementation process. To get buy-in, involve stakeholders in the selection process by gathering feedback on their needs and priorities, and demonstrating how the AMS will help them do their jobs more effectively. It's also important to address concerns and questions early on, so stakeholders feel heard and supported. Ultimately, getting buy-in from stakeholders will help ensure a smoother implementation process and a more successful outcome.

Mistake #3: Failing to thoroughly train your team on the new system
Even if you have the perfect AMS for your association and everyone is on board with the implementation, you might as well be speaking in dolphin clicks if your team doesn't know how to use it. Proper training is key to ensuring that your staff, board members, and volunteers can use the new system effectively and efficiently. It's important to provide comprehensive training on all aspects of the AMS, from basic functionality to more advanced features. This could involve online tutorials, in-person training sessions, or even hiring a consultant to provide customized training. By investing in training, you'll ensure that your team feels confident and comfortable using the new system, which will ultimately lead to a more successful outcome for your association.

Mistake #4: Not properly integrating the new system with your current processes and tools
No matter how advanced and elegant your new AMS appears to be, it won't do you much good if it's not working seamlessly with the other tools and processes you use daily. To avoid this mistake, it's important to identify how the new AMS will fit into your current workflow and ensure that it can integrate with your existing systems. This could involve working with your IT team to create custom integrations or investing in tools that are specifically designed to work with your new AMS. By ensuring proper integration, you'll be able to take full advantage of the features and functionality of your new system, while minimizing disruptions to your current processes.

Mistake #5: Failing to properly manage data migration
Your data is the lifeblood of your association, and if it's not properly migrated to the new system, it can cause major headaches down the road. To avoid this mistake, it's important to take a thoughtful and strategic approach to data migration. This could involve conducting a data audit to identify which data is critical and should be migrated, as well as determining how to clean and prepare the data for migration. You'll also want to ensure that you have a plan for testing and validating the data once it's migrated to the new system. By managing data migration properly, you'll ensure that your new AMS has the data it needs to function effectively, and that you're not left with a mess to clean up down the road.

Mistake #6: Not setting clear goals and measuring success
Without clear goals and a plan to measure success, it can be difficult to know whether the new system is actually delivering the benefits you were hoping for. Setting clear goals for what you want to achieve with the new AMS, such as improving member engagement or streamlining administrative processes is essential to measuring the efficiency of the system. You'll also want to define metrics to measure success, such as the number of new members gained or the time saved on administrative tasks. Do you ever watch an NHL game where they don't keep score? No, because like with a new AMS, we have no idea whether you're making progress or not. By setting clear goals and measuring success, you'll be able to track progress and adjust course as needed to ensure that your new AMS is delivering the results you need.

Mistake #7: Not seeking support when needed
It can be easy to feel like you have to do everything on your own either to boost your own ego or to cut costs, but implementing a new AMS can be a complex and challenging process. Without the right support, it can be quite frustrating as you’ll likely run into many roadblocks. It's important to identify where you need help and seek it out, whether that means consulting with experts, hiring additional staff, or reaching out to your AMS vendor for assistance. We're all guilty of thinking we can assemble a piece of IKEA furniture without the instructions, but in the end we realize while you might be able to figure it out on your own, but it's going to be a lot easier (with a lot less injuries) if you have help. By seeking support when needed, you can ensure that the implementation process goes smoothly and that you have the resources and expertise you need to make the most of your new AMS.

Implementing a new association management system (AMS) can be a complex and challenging process, but by avoiding these seven common mistakes, you can ensure that the process goes smoothly and that you get the most out of your new system. By clearly defining your needs, getting buy-in from stakeholders, properly training your team, integrating the new system with your current processes and tools, managing data migration, setting clear goals and measuring success, and seeking support when needed, you can avoid common pitfalls and set yourself up for success. With the right approach and mindset, implementing a new AMS can be like putting together a puzzle - challenging, but ultimately rewarding when all the pieces come together So, whether you're a seasoned AMS pro or a newbie to the game, take these tips to heart and make your implementation a success!

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