Membership software is the figurative backbone of the association. It helps you manage both the inner workings of your organization, as well as your outreach to members, partners, and the general public. What you may not realize is, when it’s time to replace or upgrade AMS software, timing is everything. Here’s when and how to upgrade your software for the greatest benefit, lowest cost, and most positive impact across your association.
1. Start the Process Well in Advance of Actually Needing an Upgrade
C-level execs and boards of directors don’t always feel the same sense of urgency you—the employees stuck with outdated, slow, and featureless software—have about getting new software. That’s why you should present your pitch a year or more before you actually foresee needing the new software. By the time you get approval in the budget, select the right vendor and product, get the system installed, and train your employees to use it, it won’t be a minute too soon.
2. Get Your AMS Software BEFORE a Hiring Spree
The last thing you want to do is try to adopt a new software system at the same time you have to onboard and train new employees. Get the software first. Train your current employees, who are already familiar with your processes, policies, and procedures. Then onboard new employees and train them only on the new system. Otherwise, you’ll be training twice—once on the old way and again on the new way, while they’re also trying to learn the ins and outs of working for your organization.
3. Implement During IT’s Least Busy Time
You probably want to conduct your AMS implementation around what’s best for your production and operations workers. Too bad. Schedule around IT’s calendar instead. Not only will they appreciate it, they’ll be more available to you during the process. As soon as you get approved for funding the software, go to your IT manager and ask what time of year/season/month, etc., is best for them. Even if there is “no good time” (which is often true in IT), they will sincerely appreciate you asking, and will likely go the extra mile to help you when the time rolls around.
4. Plan to Install & Train Directly After Your Busiest Season
Apart from working around IT’s schedule, you do have to consider your own. If your association has lots of fundraisers or membership drives around the holidays or during the summer, these are the worst times to try to get new software installed and train your employees. Instead, plan the implementation for directly following your busiest time of year. That gives you ample time for delays without running into your next busy season. It also helps assure that staff is well acquainted with the new AMS software, its features, its quirks, and its capabilities before they have to kick into high gear in using it.
Of course, there are other considerations when taking on new AMS software that you need to be aware of, the least of which is pricing. To learn all that goes into pricing a new system, check out the guide.