It’s time.

Your leadership has agreed that the association can no longer operate with its existing software systems. You have approval to select a new association management solution.

Now—where do you start?

Selecting the right technology to run your entire business can be a gamble if you lack a full and clear understanding of your organization’s complete requirements. How are you operating today? What’s essential to keep? What’s not working? And most important: What will you need to grow, adapt, and change in the future?

The answers to these critical questions lie with the people who really matter: your system users.

Association Platforms Democratize Software Use and Selection

In the past, software selection decisions fell squarely on the shoulders of the IT department. Not so in today’s environment. Your association platform is the foundation of your entire business. To ensure success, you must include the views and perspectives of stakeholders at every level of your organization.

Association platforms have transformed the user experience so dramatically that users are no longer dependent on IT for the majority of their interactions with the system.

These and other advancements make your system more flexible and your association more agile. They also enable your teams to better understand the intersections among roles and departments that were previously viewed as independent.

These new relationships mean that everyone in the organization must now have a voice in the software selection process.

Who Should Be on My Association Platform Selection Team?

Of course, having ALL your users chiming in is neither practical nor valuable. For most organizations, association platform selection is an extended, methodical process that requires time and attention from those involved.

Designate a team of influencers and decision makers who can effectively represent your extended user base. Like a football team, your selection committee should include different positions with different skill sets. If your team consists entirely of quarterbacks, your odds of winning are slim to none.

Recruit your team by prioritizing your AMS needs.

  • Membership director: Nobody understands your members’ wants, needs, and behavior better than your membership director. They know how members view your association’s brand, what products and services they buy, and how they participate at events.
  • Events manager: Your association’s annual conference, webinars, and virtual meetings are a primary revenue stream. Your events team provides insight into exhibitor and sponsorship contracts, floor planning, event app tech and promotions—and how all those elements relate to your association data.
  • Database administrator: This person is your go-to “experiencing technical difficulties” troubleshooter. Your database administrator or information technology manager answers your questions on CRM database operations and application integrations.
  • CFOs and accountants: Financial analysts detail the revenue for your association. They need an association platform that will integrate with your accounting system and automate transactional, daily, weekly, and monthly reconciliations to ensure clean financials for the organization.
  • Education manager: Many professionals are required to maintain certifications and credentials for their careers and licenses. Education managers use learning management software (LMS) to facilitate member engagement and successful learning. They need an Association Platform that can synchronize data on courses and certifications and provide members with a seamless experience.
  • Marketing specialist: A marketing specialist builds the brand of the organization, driving new sales. A CRM-based association platform helps manage pipeline opportunities and easily integrates with marketing automation and analytics software.

If you’re a large association, having an entry-level employee on the team can provide another missing perspective in your evaluations. They won’t be the ultimate deciding factor, but an “outsider” point of view can be vital in understanding how your staff will actually work with a system—and what factors will help ensure successful adoption.


It’s essential to give the people on your selection team the bandwidth they need to participate fully in the project. Leadership must demonstrate commitment to the implementation project’s success by fostering clear communication and providing support to help staff balance their workloads as they collaborate to get the new association platform in place.

Consider a Consultant

Do you already have a dedicated IT team that handles your back-office database and front-end website? If so, you may already have the resources you need to facilitate technology decisions within your association. They understand your software infrastructure and know what your association needs for future projects and programs.

But many organizations get value from working with a consultant—an expert outside the organization who:

  • Provides an unbiased, fresh perspective on your operations
  • Assists your teams in developing a comprehensive list of features and requirements
  • Coordinates and synthesizes information to minimize the impact on your team’s time
  • Facilitates the selection and maintains project momentum

Set Up for Success in Selecting an Association Platform

Gone are the days when you would let your IT executive solely handle technology decisions. The range of capabilities that an AMS vendor can provide are too broad for one person to handle. Whether your team consists of membership managers, event planners, controllers, database specialists and professional development coordinators, the key is to make sure the group has no blind spots when the time comes to select a vendor. Be prepared and diligent, and the team will follow through.

Our experts can provide guidance on how to move your selection process forward. Contact us to get your project started on the right foot.

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