It’s no secret that implementing a new association management software is a detailed process that includes many steps. By incorporating effective project management into such a complex process, you’re able to stay on track and accurately meet deadlines and milestones in your project.
How can you ensure that you’re not relying on luck to successfully implement a system as important as an AMS? With an internal project manager – or someone on your team that knows all of the nuances, deadlines, and details of the process.
Think of the project manager as a cruise ship director. They know all of the important events, details, and what needs to be done to ensure the cruise stays on schedule and that everyone has a worthwhile experience. They’re able to rally the rest of the team together and ensure that everyone shows up to the right events and completes their share of the work to reach the final destination, in this case, a successfully implemented system that fits the needs of your association.
But, what else goes into effective project management?
Management of the Timeline and Deliverables
A project manager’s role is to manage the timeline and deliverables for all sections of the implementation, making sure that both sides stay on track. From the beginning of the project, the project manager should collect all important information that might affect the timeline. Think of blackout dates, or dates when your staff will be too busy hosting an event to attend implementation meetings, membership renewal dates, or any other dates that will take time away from implementation. All of those need to be understood from the beginning of the process to create clear lines of communication and establish accurate timelines.
The project manager also coordinates the availability of their team. Don’t forget that while the project manager does a lot of the heavy lifting of implementation, sometimes they need to get subject matter experts involved to help with the part of the system they will be using the most. By knowing their schedule, the project manager ensures that no one misses a meeting that they need to attend.
Another important function of the project manager is staying up to date on the deliverables. By staying up to date with the project management tool that the vendor is using, they are able to make sure that both their team and the vendor’s team are meeting deadlines – and following up if something gets missed.
Make sure that the project manager understands all deliverables and outputs for every stage of implementation. Worst case scenario, implementation goes off schedule because someone didn’t understand what they were supposed to deliver, so make sure to ask questions early.
Let’s go back to that cruise ship director analogy. What good would a cruise ship director be if they didn’t communicate with both their team and the people vacationing on the cruise ship? Sure, fun events might be planned, but what if the staff didn’t show up to work or no one attended them?
The project manager acts as the in-between for both the vendor and the staff at their association. It’s their job to communicate expectations and all information that they collect with the provider. Alternatively, it’s also their responsibility to turn around and communicate any information from the vendor to the rest of the staff.
One way to stay connected during implementation is to have a weekly meeting with your team and a weekly meeting with your vendor. During these weekly meetings, your staff is able to get an update on implementation. In the weekly meeting with your AMS provider, you’re able to maintain visibility and keep the project on schedule or ask any clarifying questions.
The project manager also manages the expectations of executive stakeholders and escalates to them when necessary. A good project manager will keep the Executive Director updated on the status of implementation by sharing both the wins and roadblocks.
So, the project manager keeps track of deadlines and acts as the liaison between the staff and vendor, but what else should they do to effectively manage the project?
The project manager will collect and organize all collateral that will go into the new system. That includes any forms or design elements that need to go into the portal. As the project manager, they will collect things like logos, colors, or design elements from their staff and hand those over to the vendor. It’s also the project manager’s job to make sure the data from your legacy system gets extracted so you can hand it over to your new provider.
Don’t forget to collect all contact information for the integration partners that you plan on using. Pass that contact information over to your AMS so they can facilitate those integrations and get everything up and running.
At the end of the day, the main goal of the project manager is to keep implementation on time and in budget. When they’re able to keep up with deliverables, keep open lines of communication, and collect and hand over all necessary collateral, the implementation will happen smoothly.
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.