AMS Platform

Implementing an AMS When You Have a Day Job

Implementing an AMS When You Have a Day Job

If you’ve identified you need to make an AMS switch, gone through the search process and selected a new AMS, gotten board approval, you’re almost there. The last step to a successful AMS switch is implementing the new system. 

It might be difficult for you and your staff to imagine implementing a new AMS while balancing the rest of your day-to-day responsibilities. However, with careful planning and execution, it’s possible! Keeping the following tips in mind will ensure a successful implementation project.

Proactive Steps Before Implementation

Before diving into implementation, it’s crucial to clean up existing data. Determine which data is essential, and what can be discarded, and address duplicates. You might even consider enlisting a consultant whose sole responsibility is to help with data cleanup. 

Consult your staff and create a list of blackout dates or days that your team won’t be able to put time into the project. These are usually around holidays, big events, or membership renewal season. Communicating these early to your new provider is essential and will help create a reasonable timeline.

Time Management and Clear Expectations

It’s important to remember that your AMS provider of choice has successfully completed dozens of these projects! Lean on their expertise. Ask your potential vendors how other associations have handled the implementation process in the past. They likely have valuable insights on managing the project internally. Ask your potential vendors how much time they recommend your team dedicates each week for implementation - it might be less than you expect (at Rhythm we recommend 6-8 hours a week). 

Different stages of implementation require varying levels of staff involvement, from hands-on work to vendor-led tasks like data migration. As you start to kickoff implementation, one of the first steps from your vendor should be a kickoff meeting and a detailed project management plan – that way, you’re able to accurately scope which stages your staff will be more hands-on, allowing you to work out when you’ll be able to focus more on your day-to-day association activities. 

As the project begins, consult a staff member to be the main point of contact or the project manager on your side. This could be the person who was most involved in the selection process, as they might be more familiar with the system. They'll know specific deadlines and milestones of the project and be able to keep the project on track. While implementation requires effort, it should not overwhelm your team when expectations are clear and communicated.

Team Engagement

Engage staff members early by involving them in the AMS discovery process. This will ensure that they’re on board when implementation comes. Tailor training sessions to address their specific needs and highlight the relevance of the new system to their day-to-day tasks. Consider gamifying training - this will foster engagement and ensure the comprehension of key concepts. 

Establish a clear timeline and outline expectations for staff involvement throughout the implementation process. Encourage collaboration among team members to facilitate knowledge-sharing and problem-solving. 

Effective Communication + Support

Communication with your staff and new vendor is crucial for a successful implementation. Some of that responsibility is on your vendor, as they should establish clear channels for communication, including regular meetings and updates. However, it’s important to not only meet with your internal team about the implementation project during the meetings with your vendor. Setting up your own cadence for internal meetings can help keep your team on the same page when joining meetings with your vendor. Maintain a balance between implementation tasks and day-to-day responsibilities to prevent staff from feeling overwhelmed or stretched thin.

Provide comprehensive support to ensure that each staff member has the resources they need to feel supported and succeed. Address questions often and early through your established communication channels to keep the project running smoothly.

Case Studies + Success Stories

Again, the AMS vendor is the implementation expert. They might be able to provide case studies or references who can share their insights. You might also want to consult other association executives and ask how they were able to implement their AMS and any advice they might have.

While implementing an AMS alongside existing responsibilities may seem daunting, it is entirely feasible with careful planning, clear communication, and team engagement. By taking proactive steps, setting clear expectations, and providing adequate support, you can navigate the process smoothly. Choose the right AMS for your association and it could be the last implementation you’ll ever need, paving the way for streamlined operations and enhanced member experiences.

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