Happy New Year! We Have a New Year’s Resolution for You

2019 was a fantastic year. At Guild, we realized many goals, grew our team and brought on new clients. The best part of being in the association management system industry is getting to meet people who come from a variety of different backgrounds – each one unique and interesting in its own way.

If your association is looking for a New Year’s resolution to commit to for 2020, our recommendation is to implement an AMS, if you don’t already have one. If you currently have an AMS in place, we recommend doing some reflecting on whether your current solution will empower your association to achieve the goals it has set out to accomplish over the next 12 months (and beyond).

Whether your resolution is to implement your first AMS or it’s to move from your current solution to a more fitting system, you’ll want to consider the importance of the following features for your association.

Provider Support
It’s no mistake that this feature is positioned at the top of this list. It may be the most important feature to consider because it will impact all others. When on the hunt for an association management system, the single most important thing to remember is that you aren’t just investing in the solution – you’re investing in its provider as well. Your provider needs to make it clear that they plan to directly support your administrators and members throughout the lifecycle of the solution. Running an association successfully requires a lot from you. You don’t need to add system maintenance and troubleshooting to your list of responsibilities. Your association should be solely focused on managing your membership. Ensuring your AMS works properly should be your provider’s job. Make sure your prospective provider is giving you confidence that they plan to stick around and stand behind their solution.
Do not, I repeat, do not harbour the mentality that you need to bend to meet your AMS provider in the middle when implementing their solution. Whatever AMS your association takes on, it should accommodate your needs. Remember, your association is the client – get what you need. Another gimmick you’ll want to avoid is the “out of the box” solution. This is sometimes marketed as a value proposition. However, it’s only valuable in the sense that your implementation time may be quicker. But just getting a solution quickly isn’t the selling feature you want to invest it. The reality is that every AMS solution has “out of the box” features that come standard with the particular provider’s offering. And, most likely, your association will benefit from those stock features. However, your association is unique and your needs are different than that of other organizations. So, you’re going to need a provider that can confidently configure their solution to empower your association in the way you prefer to do things.
Ease of Use
In the beginning, nobody likes change. Introducing a new solution can have its growing pains among your administrators and members. Since there is a social tendency to resist technological shifts, the solution you introduce has to be as simple to use as possible. People are willing to learn as long as they are convinced something is learner-friendly. If users get the sense that a system is overcomplicated or overly technical, they’ll reject it. When your prospective provider is demoing their solution for you, try to experience the demo through the eyes of your users. Will they be able to easily catch on to how the system works? Or, will they find the way it functions confusing and clunky? Whatever AMS you choose, it should be one that makes users feel smart.
Provider Transparency
This is just good consumer practice, but it’s worth stating nonetheless. Feel your prospective AMS provider out. Gauge whether they are being forthwith with information you need to make an informed decision. If you feel like the whole picture isn’t being painted and some things are being held back from your view, don’t go forward with that provider. You should feel like every question is being answered and information you didn’t even ask for is being offered up freely. With every interaction you have with the prospective provider, you should come away feeling like you are completely in the know of all the details. If you feel confused or that you’re uninformed in any way, you may want to think twice about proceeding. The provider needs to show that they plan to be transparent and treat you fairly. If they aren’t doing that from the outset, you could be subject to hidden fees, lack of support or any of the other potential downfalls that come with dishonest AMS providers. What’s more, you want to like your provider, because you need to have a close working relationship – and, how can you have a good relationship if they aren’t being open and honest. Ensure the provider you pick is displaying a high level of transparency.
This is, of course, a must. Your association’s data and the information your members offer up all needs to be safe and secure on your AMS. Any compromise or breach is completely unacceptable. Have your prospective provider comprehensively detail how they go about ensuring your data is secure and protected on their solution. They should be able to explain the process in layman’s terms so non-technical people will have a grasp on how their information will be kept safe.
There are two main reasons why associations implement an AMS. One, it allows them to create an online community that sustains the health and growth of their membership. And two, its makes managing your membership simpler. Association management systems worth their weight allow professional administrators and registrars to automate many of their activities, so they no longer need to complete manual, monotonous tasks. There is nothing more backwards (in this day and age) than duplication of effort. With the technologies we have now, it just shouldn’t happen. Your AMS should take a whole lot of weight off the shoulders of your administrators. Cumbersome initiatives should be completed automatically by the system so administrators are freed up to engage with your membership. Make sure you discuss with your prospective provider the types of automations that can be implemented through their solution. There’s no reason to continue having administrators devote their precious time to tasks that can be accomplished through AMS automation.
Professional Development
Prospective members of your association are going to evaluate how much value they can squeeze out of their membership fees prior to ever registering. Through your website, they’ll investigate what benefits you are offering to members and decide whether those value propositions are important to them. One value prop that seems to be at the top of most people’s list is professional development resources – and for good reason. Topical learning programs allow your members to add credentials to their repertoire in an expedited and cost-effective fashion. The practice of continued learning allows professionals to constantly improve their skillset and stay in the know regarding the future of their industry. Since professional development programs are so highly valued, it’s important to implement an AMS that will allow you to host educational resources on the platform. Discuss this capability with your prospective provider and confirm whether providing e-learning is possible through their AMS solution.
Your AMS solution should be able to connect with your workflow or process software seamlessly. It just doesn’t make sense to have to manually move information from one software to the next. Ask your prospective provider what APIs their solution can offer and how it will make life easier for your administrators.
Event Management
Events and conferences are a critical part of operating an association. There’s precious little time to interact face to face with your members, and your association-hosted events are usually where this in-person engagement occurs. You’ve got to capitalize on these opportunities. Putting faces to names is a very important step in retaining members. So, since events are integral to your association’s success, you need all the support you can get to ensure these get-togethers are a hit. Making sure an event goes off without a hitch takes quite a lot of planning. An AMS can take some of the weight off the shoulders of your administrators by providing event management tools. An AMS can support your event management efforts by allowing you to schedule, invite, register and communicate. Having a tool that administrators can lean on when planning your association event will make all the difference when managing the many moving parts of a conference. What’s more, members will easily be able to register to events they want to attend since a comprehensive AMS will make registrations simple and quick. Have your prospective provider demonstrate how their event management component can make planning successful events a breeze.
o Engaging with your members is what an association is all about. To do this in a meaningful way, you’ll need a platform that allows you to find who you’re looking for promptly and then communicate with them seamlessly. When you’ve implemented a comprehensive AMS, accessing your members is a given. With the right association management system, you can use custom filters to set the parameters necessary to categorically search members by whatever criteria you choose (whether it be by profession, credentials, title, etc.). Having your membership at your fingertips allows you to engage in an effortless and meaningful fashion.

At the end of the day, you’re going to want to invest in and implement an AMS solution that will allow your administrators to lighten their load, empower your members to easily access the value your association offers, and support your organization’s efforts in growing their community.

We wish your association and its members a successful and prosperous 2020. The Guild team looks forward to supporting the management of our clients’ memberships, and we would be happy to do the same for our clients yet to come. Happy New Year!

If you’d like to learn more about how Guild’s AMS will benefit your association, or would like to schedule a live demo of the solution, click here.