As this year draws to a close, you’re probably thinking about what 2017 will hold for you and are eagerly waiting for New Year’s Eve to approach. Or if you’re like me, you’re caught up in a group text trying to figure out what you’ll be doing and wearing that night because other things have been distracting you lately.
As I write this, I’m in the midst of pondering what my plans will be and reflecting on what I was doing this time last year. Earlier today, on my Facebook newsfeed, there was a picture of my childhood best friend and me on her wedding day. It was one of those Facebook Memories that appear on your newsfeed from time to time. It brought back a flood of wonderful memories as her maid of honor, but it also made me chuckle and slightly cringe because truth be told being a part of her wedding planning left me feeling frazzled at times. Now let me be clear it’s not because she was a “bridezilla.” She was far from that. What left me feeling those feelings was that she was incredibly disorganized and wasn’t the best at communicating her needs and wants, so she left everyone in the bridal party as well as her family stressed. Sidenote: I say this with upmost affection because she is my best friend, and I want to keep it real for the sake of this blog. Also, I know she would agree with me on this.
Reliving those memories in my head as I scrolled through all her wedding pictures reminded me of the importance of communication and how things can get lost in translation if something isn’t clearly said. While that might seem like a cliche remark, it’s interesting to see how challenging it can be to follow through on it in any aspect of your life.
Membership software plays an instrumental part in managing an organization’s membership. Chances are almost all your staff members will use this tool to some degree in their positions. Once your organization makes the decision to move forward with a membership software implementation, it’s essential that communication is maintained throughout this process so that everyone is in the know.
Here are 3 things you should keep in mind when communicating before, during, and even after the implementation.
Who you need to communicate with
Ask yourself this: Who all will be affected by this new software? If you’re thinking just one individual or even one department, then think again! Implementing a new membership software will impact all staff members at your organization. It is ideal to have everyone’s input on what they can expect from this implementation, but you need a streamlined approach. Select one representative from each department or team who should serve as a liaison to the implementation committee. That same individual should also be responsible for reporting back to their department on what decisions were made and what impact those decisions will have on that department.
An executive sponsor can also be helpful. This is someone who fully supports the idea of a new AMS software and can communicate the excitement and the impact it will have on the organization as a whole. This individual should be comfortable asking what is needed in order for the organization to move forward with the implementation. Other times, this person will have to be willing to exercise their voice in making a concrete decision. When identifying an executive sponsor, consider these qualities…someone who is well-liked, a great communicator, and holds enough authority so his or her decisions will stick.
And while communication is absolutely neccessary among the organizational staff, it’s equally important to be transparent with your membership software vendor too. Be willing to be comfortably express your needs, concerns and questions with them too so they can help your organization make it a more smooth sailing transition.
With the case of my friend, she didn’t really decide upon who should be responsible for certain tasks such as mailing the save-the-dates, planning the bachelorette party or the bridal shower just to name a few. Since this was my first time being a maid of honor, I did a little research on my own and figured out what I was supposed to help out with–so that is what I did after running it by her first.
Once you’ve selected who will be the main point of contact, you need to determine…
What to communicate
This might also seem obvious, but sometimes it’s easier said than done, especially if this is your first time being a part of a membership software implementation. The only way you can know what you want your stakeholder or your executive sponsor to communicate is if you communicate among each other first. The first takes form of listening. Make a list of concerns, requests, ideas, fears, and other issues brought up by each section. Switching software systems is a huge change, and it’s okay for you to say what’s on your mind. Chances are someone else on your team or another department might be thinking the same thing. And remember communication is most certainly a two-way effort. The main point of contact should deliver the information back to those who will be affected by the software change. Updating everyone on the status of the project is essential for alleviating worries. People are much more receptive to change when they understand it:
- Why the change is necessary
- How the change will benefit them
- When the change will happen
- What challenges are expected
- What procedures are in place for meeting those challenges
How to communicate
We’re living in a time where it’s ridiculously easy to communicate with people and it’s really kind of mind-boggling to think about all the different ways we do. While some methods might be more ideal or preferred depending on your personality and what it is that needs to be communicated, with something as significant as an AMS software implementation, face-to-face is the best way to address any concerns and to ask questions. Be sure to have regular meetings leading up to the implementation, during the actual process, and even after when you’ve had your go-live. Regular meetings establish a protocol for bringing up issues and asking questions. If anything was brought up through email or said in passing between co-workers and could affect others, then hopefully you’ll feel comfortable enough to bring it up at a meeting. Or if not, then be sure to voice your thoughts to the main representative.
In the case of my friend, all of the bridesmaids were in different cities so we relied on an email thread to stay in the loop. However, we soon found out that not everyone was reading the email thread, so we switched to using a group text. Some things still fell through the cracks though. Like my friend not mentioning that there was a second wedding ceremony the day after the first one that we were invited to attend. She mentioned it to her cousin, who was another bridesmaid, in a separate text, but didn’t realize she hadn’t mentioned it to everyone in the group text we were using.
So if you’re reading this as you plan your NYE festivities, whether it be going out on the town or flipping between watching the ball drop and watching football on TV, here’s my challenge to you as you enter 2017. Make communication a priority not just in your personal life, but in your professional life. If your organization is looking into purchasing new software or is undergoing an implementation, make it a goal to encourage people to communicate openly among each other and be transparent across the board. Your organization will be better off, and it will certainly make all the difference when implementing your new system.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2016 and has since been updated for freshness and comprehensiveness.