An association management system (AMS) allows the organization to consolidate all of the data and processes into a single tool, while eliminating much of the work associated with manual data entry, multiple databases, and other redundant and time-consuming aspects of running an association. Since it affects every aspect of the association, it stands to reason that all of the various teams and departments hold a stake in the AMS, including the planning and implementation stages.
There are five phases in choosing and implementing an Association Management System:
1. The Discovery and Design Phase
2. The Building Phase
3. The Validation Phase
4. The Deployment Phase
5. The Post-Production Phase
The Discovery & Design Phase
The first phase of implementing an AMS is the discovery and design phase, which is the process of identifying the functional requirements of your system. On average, it takes about three months to complete this phase. It involves:
- Discovery meetings to develop a Functional Requirements Document, or FRD, which outlines the business’ requirements for an AMS
- Developing a Solution Design Document with the vendor, based on the FRD, which describes how to utilize the AMS software in order to meet the organization’s requirements
- Decide how to handle the data conversion process
- Identify risks and obstacles that could slow or halt progress on the AMS implementation project
- Develop an AMS implementation plan with the vendor to determine specific deliverables and a timeline
The Building Phase
This phase is usually the longest part of the AMS implementation process, and it generally takes about four months. The building phase involves developing, testing, and demonstrating the system to the stakeholders. The goal is to assure that the deliverables match the specifications determined in the first phase.
The Validation Phase
This phase isn’t as long as the second phase, and usually takes about three months. The validation phase involves the testing, and usually begins after some or all of the system is complete. The validation phase is sometimes called the User Acceptance Testing, or UAT, and is the process of ensuring that the system meets the needs of the organization. Problems can be identified and corrected now more easily than after the entire implementation process is finalized.
The Deployment Phase
This phase usually takes between two and three months. It is the process of launching the system into production, and requires help from all of the various stakeholders. It includes testing, training, and setting up a practice go-live before the AMS is placed into actual production. It also involves the actual process of go-live.
The Post-Production Phase
You will continue to need training and support for as long as two months after go-live. Be sure your vendor will be available and offer needed support for your teams as they learn the new system.
Even after deployment of your association management software, there will still be times when you need additional training or tweaking. Your own IT team should work closely with your AMS vendor to handle any issues that arise during this process, which typically lasts about two months.
To learn more about each of these phases or to get started with your Association Management System implementation process, download Implementing Your AMS: What to Expect Along the Way today.