When you invest in and implement an association management system, you absolutely should expect to be able to live inside that system indefinitely – or, at the very least, for a long, long time. However, as justified as you are in feeling that you are entitled to a solution that solves your current needs and grows with you, that is not always how it turns out. Despite the time you spent researching a solution that fits and the effort put in to transition to the system, sometimes it just doesn’t work out.
There are many things that can make it so a particular AMS doesn’t stick for your association – the below examples included. Whatever the hitch may be, make sure your association starts the dialogue necessary to identify whether your AMS provider can rectify the issue or if you need to make the decision to move on to something else that will be the right fit for your current and future needs.
- Lack of Ability to be Continually & Easily Configured
- Sometimes the AMS that was a perfect fit when you first implemented it is no longer empowering your progress. Instead, it’s begun to hamper your efforts. The reason for this could be that the solution was built for your needs at the time but does not have the capability to scale with you. However, your association had no intention of staying in the same place – and rightfully so. You want to keep building and keep improving your performance. Often, to accomplish this, you need to evolve your processes and workflow. One would hope that your various process solutions would accommodate this evolution. Alas, this doesn’t always occur. Some member management systems are set in their ways. But that’s not fair to an organization just trying to be better. So, if your AMS isn’t growing with you and can’t be configured to the way you are doing things now, don’t pass a thought thinking that you need to take steps back or adapt to make your current solution work. Remember this – you should not be expected to adapt to your solution, it should always be the other way around. Get your information out of that stagnant AMS and move it to a solution where the provider gives you confidence that their service is intended to answer the now and plan for the future as well.
- Provider Won’t Offer Direct Support to Membership
- Boiled down, brass tacks – the purpose of any given AMS should be to make the management of your membership as streamlined and automated as it is possible to be. Your professional administrators should be empowered by the solution to be free to strategize for the health of their online community – not encumbered by banal troubleshooting tasks brought on by a particular member’s technical issue while interfacing with the AMS. First off, your AMS should function so smoothly that technical difficulties are rare. However, with any software, there will be issues from time to time. So, when an issue arises, an administrator shouldn’t have to address it – since IT is most likely not one of their major skillsets – nor should they have to play the middle-man, between the member and the AMS provider. Both of these scenarios are a waste of an administrator’s time. The member should have direct self-serve access to the AMS provider, so they can immediately speak to the informed source, get the resolution they need and move on with their day – all without ever communicating with the administrator. Now, if you have a smaller sized association, this may not mean much to you. You may be fine with the idea that your administrators will have to troubleshoot a member issue from time to time. However, as your association grows, having to troubleshoot can become a logistical nightmare. If, at that time when you’ve grown to a certain size, your AMS provider has no interest in providing direct support to your members, they are signalling to you that they do not stand behind their product. You may need to come to the realization that you’ve outgrown the current system and need to upgrade to a solution where the provider will let your administrators administrate.
- Transparency from Your Provider Has Begun to Wane
- The dialogue your AMS provider establishes with you is a telltale sign of how your customer experience will be. Do you feel informed? Do you get the sense that the provider is equipping you with the information needed to understand what you are getting and what they will do for you? If after speaking with your provider, you don’t have a solid grip on what the service includes and how it will respond to your needs, this should cause some concern. The association management system solution you choose is extremely important as it is a resource that your professional administrators will lean on quite a bit to accomplish a higher level of efficiency in managing your membership. If your solution of choice isn’t supported well by the provider or if the provider throws curveballs in their service offerings (or doesn’t stand behind what they said they would do), your administrators will be left to figure things out on their own. An AMS is supposed to make managing your membership less cumbersome, not more complicated. If you don’t have support from the provider, you’re AMS will most likely become more of a hindrance than a help. For this reason, it is terribly important to understand what you are getting before you get it. Make sure it is clearly defined what your investment grants you from the service and from the provider. Make no mistake – when you are investing in an AMS solution, you are also investing in its provider. Ensure your money is being well-invested. And, if you feel that you are being taken for a ride by your provider, don’t stick around. Move on and implement a solution where the provider demonstrates they are interested in providing value for money.
- Loss of Data or Security Breach
- This is a cardinal sin and completely unacceptable. Your AMS should be your association’s fortress of solitude. There should be no leaks of or breaches on your sensitive or proprietary information. If it becomes clear that your association management system isn’t secure or backed up (with adequate redundancies), that’s not something that you should learn to live with. This is a serious issue and can significantly compromise the health and growth of your association. Lack of security is a deal breaker. Switch providers while the going is good. You can’t operate in an effective manner with security exposures. What’s more, managing an association and its membership is hectic enough – you don’t need to be worrying whether your system is secure. That’s an unnecessary anxiety to harbour when there are plenty of AMS solutions that will not subject you to this concern.
- Any Change in the Service that Doesn’t Allow You to do Things Your Way
- Sometimes, as an AMS provider gains a larger client-base and begins to scale up, they will change certain details of their service to adapt to their growing demand. This is not uncommon, nor should it necessarily be interpreted as a negative occurrence. Providers sometimes need to change things to ensure they can continue to grow and improve their offering. However, whatever changes are introduced to their service, they should not impede how you do things. If they make things better or easier – perfect. But if the workflow is dramatically changed and is now incompatible with how your association functions – that’s not acceptable or fair. Your provider’s evolution shouldn’t negatively impact the benefit their AMS solution grants your association. If you feel that your provider isn’t ushering you into their new era, it may be time to move on to a provider that will respect your process when manifesting their own organizational destiny.
Always remember, you are the client. The AMS provider should be there to accommodate you – not the other way around. Fortunately, you aren’t trapped with or beholden to your provider (or shouldn’t be). If your AMS isn’t helping you achieve your goals, there’s no need to stick it out. Take your association elsewhere – to another member management system provider. If you’re investing in a solution to improve your performance as an association, that’s exactly what you should get.