This is an important question and one that you may want to think about posing when interviewing prospective AMS providers. There are many motivations you will most likely have for making the decision to invest in an association management system, but the reasons that govern them all is to improve your efficiency and make life easier. So, the solution you choose has to accomplish these initiatives or, the reality is, it will only serve as deadweight.
However, this conundrum only opens a whole new subset of questions. What features will equal improved efficiency and lighten your load? There isn’t always a cut and dried answer for the feature-set, that could be globally applied from one association to the next, necessary to accomplish your goals. However, there are a handful of AMS features that will universally benefit any association – no matter the industry. These ubiquitously beneficial features include:
- The more processes that can be completed in a fly-by-wire fashion, the better off your association will be as a whole. Administrators will be freed up and members will get the attention they need to feel they are getting value for money.
- The AMS solution your association adopts should be customized to your existing needs and should be easily configurable as your needs change over time. If the system you have is static, it won’t provide you with much value as you grow.
- Ease of Use
- This one is an obvious must, no matter the system you take on. If the association management software you implement isn’t easy to access and reference for members and is confusing for professional administrators to make use of, it just won’t do.
- Your information has to be safe and secure – of course. There isn’t an organization out there that can say, hand to heart, “yeah, sure – some leaks and breaches are fine, just as long as it doesn’t happen all the time.” No one says that. Even one intrusion is unacceptable.
- Last, but most certainly not least (and the feature we are focusing on in this article), direct support for administrators and members from your AMS provider. This may not be the most top-of-mind feature when thinking about what you need – but it could very well be the most important. Keep reading below to understand why.
As stated above, when you’re in the market for an AMS, you’re attempting to improve efficiency and make things easier. Any one of the features highlighted above will allow your association to accomplish a higher level of efficiency and ease – in one respect or another. However, each one has the potential to completely falter should the solution go unsupported by the provider.
Your administrators should not be expected to understand how best to troubleshoot technical issues – should they occur. Whatever AMS you take on, it should function well. However, any technical solution has the potential to have hiccups, and it’s not your administrators’ job to solve those issues. Their job (and most likely the description detailed in their contract of employment) is to manage your membership. To effectively manage your membership, administrators can’t spend their time managing individual members. But someone has to. After all, their needs are important too. The last thing you need is for a member to be sounding the horn about how they were hung out to dry when they had a technical issue with the system.
Before it ever gets to that point is when your provider should swoop in to the rescue. Your administrators should never even have to field inquiries regarding system issues from members. There should be a component within your AMS that allows members, as well as administrators, to directly contact provider technical specialists about their issue. This should prompt a reasonable response from the provider that results in a meaningful fix.
Having your administrators supported by the provider is beneficial for obvious reasons. But when your members are directly supported by your AMS provider, that’s when your administrators can really optimize their efficiency and take a weight off their shoulders. Without having to deal with technical issue inquiries that they have no clue how to solve, they can genuinely and meaningfully fixate their focus on managing your membership and continually growing your association.