7 Steps to a Successful Association Management Solution (AMS) Implementation

Implementing an association management solution (AMS) is the project that has the potential to have most impact—positive or negative–on your organization’s activities. The implementation impacts all levels of your association, including business units, employees, executives and, ultimately, your members. 

Success means that your employees and other stakeholders can heave a sigh of relief and continue working towards achieving the association’s objectives, while failure can result in disruption of daily business operations and negatively impact relations with members, prospects and partners. As such, it’s essential that you pull out all stops to ensure that the deployment goes right. 

Before you go live with your brand new AMS, take time to plan ahead and focus on those essentials that can ensure the success of the AMS deployment project. Let’s take a look at seven steps that are critical to the success of your AMS go-live. 


Create a winning team

Planning and executing a successful AMS implementation is a unique undertaking and is unlike most IT projects. Since such a project requires an unusual combination of skills, you must create a team with the requisite knowledge, skills and experience, as well as a deep understanding of your internal processes and business objectives. Such a team should be led by a project manager who is a business process expert, motivational coach and strong taskmaster with the wherewithal to obtain executive sponsorship. The team should also be fluid enough to respond agilely to ongoing issues and challenges while keeping their eyes on the prize. 


Build a business case

You should review your association’s service/business areas (such as membership, volunteers, events, etc.) to build a business case and requirements for your AMS implementation. You should arrive at these requirements by carefully considering the following: 

  • How will the AMS complement your association’s activities and long-term business strategy? 

  • What are the pain points you want to eliminate? 

  • What are the needs of your association stakeholders (executives, administrators, users) in regards to an AMS? 


Develop an implementation plan

After selecting and prepping your team, it’s time to design an implementation schedule. This schedule should identify the person(s) in charge of the various milestones in the implementation, their roles and communication protocols with the vendor and/or internal stakeholders, as well as details of the testing process. 


Clean your data before you convert or migrate it

Since data migration/conversion is a resource-consuming and expensive process, it’s best to get it right the first time. To facilitate this, you should clean up your data before proceeding to the migration phase. Or, confirm your new AMS vendors has the appropriate staff expertise and tools to de-dupe and cleanse your data. (Quick Tip:  Talk to your vendor about implementing an ongoing data maintenance strategy.) 


Conduct training with your staff

One of the most important aspects of the AMS implementation process is staff training. Inability to properly use your new AMS leads to inefficiency, frustration and reduced productivity. As such, you should undertake multiple training sessions with staff and admins before and during implementation and continue with follow-up training sessions, possibly for three to six months after the go-live. 


Test the system

The responsibility of testing the AMS rests with you, not the vendor. You shouldn’t just rely on the standard vendor tests. Create a unique set of tests based on your business requirements, use cases, goals and pain points. Your staff should also put the system through tests that ensure the AMS functionalities work for your association’s needs (and meets the objectives identified in the selection and requirements analysis). 


Be prepared for the unexpected

Finally, you should always be prepared for unforeseen issues and occurrences. You can’t create a plan that accounts for all eventualities, since something will always go wrong. Being agile and responsive in such scenarios is essential to keeping your AMS implementation project on track. 

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