Think of the software and technology that you use daily outside of your Association Management Software. Netflix, Amazon, Instacart, they’re all pretty intuitive, right? We have a certain level of expectation for our software. We expect them to work when we want them to and how we want them to – with little to no downtime and with easy to learn features. When we have a question or there’s a bug, the response time is quick. Now think of your current AMS, can you say the same for it? With other software, a certain level of expectations is guaranteed, but shouldn’t you hold your AMS to the same standard? In 2021, there are a handful of signs that you have the right AMS for your association.
1. Steady & Frequent Innovation
Does your AMS innovate frequently? As the technology landscape changes, your AMS provider should be able to keep up. An AMS should be constantly innovating, providing the users with new product enhancement features without requiring you to upgrade or pay additional fees. An ideal AMS should get better while you sleep, without inconvenient downtimes that affect you and your members. When your association lands at the right AMS, innovation should become normal and expected, something that happens without having to bat an eye.
2. Your AMS Vendor Listens to You and Knows You
Do you feel like your AMS vendor knows your association and its goals? The right provider will take your feedback into account by listening to your needs and build features to reflect those needs. Your AMS provider should have a place where you’re able to directly give your feedback or ideas – and a place for them to reply and follow up. In best cases, you should be able to point out where your feedback has directly changed a product or feature.
Think about it, this is standard practice outside of the AMS industry – other software providers have beta products and product councils with users who review the product and give their feedback.
Your AMS should also know you and understand the tasks you are trying to complete within the system. When you go to perform a task within your AMS, it should be intuitive and give you the exact result without unintended consequences. Imagine you go to add a specific discount to event registration and accidentally add the coupon to everything you offer, losing a ton of money. An AMS should be intuitive and know what you’re trying to complete in the system.
3. Customize Without the Cost
Consider the last time you wanted to customize something in your system. Were you able to do it yourself without extra cost? You should be able to. The ability to customize should be a free built-in option that is available through configuration options. When an AMS is flexible to fit your needs, you’re able to customize the platform to fit your needs or even branding quickly without the help of a developer.
This seems like a small thing, but one system doesn’t fit all associations. Customizations can become a huge process, with meetings to outline what you want to be done, documents that illustrate the scope of the project, and extra costs that pop up when the change ends up becoming bigger than you expected. A flexible system fixes this issue, allowing you to make the changes yourself, quickly and easily without extra cost.
4. It’s Easy to Become a Product Expert
Your AMS should be intuitive, easy to use, and things in the system should just make sense. If you are unsure how to do something in the system or a feature is new to you, there should be several ways to learn how to use it. On-demand training videos, knowledge checks, in-app guidance, knowledge-based articles, or even walkthrough videos from the vendor’s staff should be standard. Everyone learns differently, so there should be numerous ways to become a product expert. Instead of a day of in-person or virtual training, consider if your provider offers training that you can go back to at any time, as parts of the system become relevant to your association or just as a refresher.
When a new product enhancement comes out, a resource to understand it should accompany it. Sure, innovation is great, but if you are unable to use the feature because you don’t understand it, it becomes insignificant.
5. You’re More Than Just a Customer, You’re a Partner
When’s the last time you felt like more than just a customer of your AMS and more like a valued partner? Your AMS powers your association, and in turn, your member experience. It’s a huge part of the day-to-day at your association and your vendor should celebrate the wins that you achieve together. When you host a successful event, your provider should share in that win with you, and be excited that you’re making a difference in your corner of the world.
Also, you should be consulted when it comes to decisions for your AMS. When your provider is thinking about building a product or hosting a user conference, it should be normal for them to come to you for opinions. Does this feature work the way you would expect it to? If we hosted a user conference, do these dates work for your association to attend?
With the right AMS provider, you’ll have access to executive stakeholders. Whether you need to escalate issues or share ideas, your voice should be heard. You are more than just a number. In exchange, executive leadership should be transparent with you, sharing company news and product roadmap announcements.
When your AMS provides you with an easy way to submit questions or requests, you’re able to feel like you have a piece of the system that belongs to you. When you submit a request, the response time should be fast with updates on what is going on and a timeline on when that request will be fulfilled.
It’s time to hold your association management software to the same standards as the other software and tech you’re using in your daily life. When you partner with the right AMS, you are unlocking a stellar experience for both your members and your staff.
Emma is the Marketing Manager at Rhythm. When she's not thinking about all things content-related, you can find her traveling or shooting 35 mm film.