What does AMS mean?

AMS stands for association management software or system. An AMS is a solution used by professional registrars and administrators to support the management of membership for their respective association, union, club, federation, non-profit, council, enrollment, chamber, foundation, society, cooperative, charity or organization. AMS services are usually deployed via standalone software programs, mobile applications or cloud-based web systems. Membership software is part of an overwhelming push to digitize business processes to optimize their application, eliminate duplication of effort and reduce unnecessary waste.

What makes a good AMS?

Customized but Configurable

Your organization should not be expected to adapt to the system you adopt. On the contrary, the association management software you choose should be adaptable to your existing workflow. Furthermore, your AMS should be capable of growing and changing with your organization. You should not be eternally beholden to a particular approach.

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Regularly Updated

If a piece of software is advertised “you get what you see, nothing more and nothing less”, that should raise suspicions. Certainly, the AMS you choose should meet your current needs – that’s the bare minimum. However, your organization should also benefit from future add-ons and improvements. Your AMS provider should never stop optimizing their offering.

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Easy to Use and Maintain

You should be given training and ongoing guidance from your AMS provider on how to use your system. However, your association management software should be so straightforward and simple to understand that asking for help will be a rare event.

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Your AMS houses a large amount of sensitive member information. Ask your provider how your information, and the system as a whole, is protected against breaches. Part of creating a reliable experience and growing your membership is assuring security.

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There are so many acronyms – too many. At times it can feel like there’s a jumbled alphabet bouncing around in your brain. In the tech world, it’s no exception – there’s a shorthand for everything. Fortunately, deciphering these acronyms isn’t the most important thing. Knowing what the letters stand for is far less important than what they refer to in practice.

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An association management software should free up time for both administrators and members. Much of the time-saving will come from the fact that many processes, which used to be manual, will now be automated. However, another feature your AMS should provide, which will eliminate duplication of effort, is API functionality. API stands for “Application Programming Interfaces” and is just a fancy way of saying that one system can speak with another seamlessly. If your membership management software can share information with the other programs you use to manage your operations, it will prevent the need to dip in and out of different systems to enter the same data.

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The purpose of adopting any new solution is to make things easier, not more complicated. Certain administrative processes should be taken off your plate by being triggered automatically through your AMS. With technology, there’s no need to do everything manually anymore.

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Transparency from Provider

There should be no surprises regarding the product you are investing in, nor hidden costs. An AMS can only be as good as its provider. Gauge whether the provider is being forthwith. If you’re finding it difficult to confirm details or the answers you are getting from the provider aren’t clear, tread carefully. You have to know what you’re getting.

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The provider of your AMS should be part of the package. That is, once the association management software is implemented, your provider should be available as a safety net. If your provider isn’t filling you with confidence that they won’t cut and run, you may want to consider other options.

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Your association management software’s cost should match the value it provides your organization. More than that, it should be clear what the cost will be from the outset and what you get for your investment. Some AMS solutions come with support from the provider built-in, while others do not. Those AMS providers that do not factor in support for their product can cost a pretty penny should you request their assistance as a follow-up service.

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