Who Owns Your Data – You or Your AMS?

Your association runs on your data. It’s the lifeblood of your organization, what allows you to understand the health of your association across membership or programs, how to make better data-driven decisions, and how you decide what’s next and prioritize. When it comes to your data, it’s extremely important that you have access to it. No matter what – your member lists, event registrants, and everything in-between belongs to you. 

 

Why You Might Want to Access Your Data 

There comes a time in every association’s existence when they’ll want to extract their data. Maybe you want to integrate your data into partnering tools to utilize it in different ways. From creating marketing campaigns, extracting lists to send emails to sponsors, or doing a deeper dive into your trends. If you want to integrate your data into a business intelligence tool to get a deeper understanding of your data and trends, you’ll first need to extract it from where it lives now. 

 

What Owning Your Data Means 

You’re creating this data. Every member interaction adds to the data that makes up your association. It’s important that it all lives in one single place or platform where you can see the data. Most importantly, you should be able to access it at any time. If you ever do want to extract your data, you should be able to easily, and the process should be transparent. 

In the event that you ever do want to switch AMS vendors, you’ll need to perform a data extraction to migrate it into your new system. When selecting a vendor or with your current vendor, seek to understand how data exports currently work. Is this something you can do on your own, or do you need to work with a staff member on your vendor side to access your data? Since the data belongs to you, you should never have to pay to export it. However, to prevent a nasty surprise that can complicate a transition, ask upfront how much a data export will cost and how long it will take if you choose to leave.

Make sure to be mindful of changes to terms and conditions. Typically, the standards at which a vendor will create for data management or extraction will exist inside the terms and conditions. Although sometimes it can feel like legalese, make sure to read it anyway. If there are ever any updates to the terms and conditions, take a look at the section about the data. 

At the end of the day, the data your association creates is your own. Be mindful of how external systems interact with your data, and that you’re able to export it whenever you need to.

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