How long have you had your existing association management software (AMS)? Five years? Seven? Ten or more?
You’re not alone. Most associations that have legacy software—particularly proprietary AMS solutions—put off replacing those systems because they know it’s a big, expensive, messy job.
But in the meantime, you have to deal with a system that:
- Doesn’t meet your needs or work with new software applications
- Has become a Frankenstein’s monster of high-maintenance custom integrations
- Siloes systems and data, preventing teams from operating efficiently
- Overburdens your IT staff with software maintenance, upgrades, patches, and security
- Costs more to maintain every year
However, it’s common for associations to put off software changes, stick with what’s worked in the past, cobble together workarounds, and add functionality with intricate integrations even though their existing systems can’t adapt.
Over time, that practice creates an overbuilt system that’s overwhelmingly—unsustainably—complex.
For associations, keeping up with technology changes can be painful. Your focus is not—and should not be—on the technology, but on your members and mission.
It’s time to change the foundational approach to association software. An association platform makes that shift possible.
Limited Agility: Complex Association Technology Isn’t Serving Your Users
Your association technology solutions have a big job, serving hundreds or thousands of people—all of whom expect their experience to be flawless, intuitive, and above all, simple.
- Members want the “Amazon” experience—a single login, easy access to everything they are looking for, a one-click purchase, and instant fulfillment.
- Staff want to do their jobs without wasting time with redundant tasks or endless workarounds.
- Leaders across all levels of the organization—from chapter and member managers to marketers and your board—want to see information in meaningful ways so they can make better, faster decisions.
Must-have Solutions for the New Normal
From those necessities comes innovation. And over the past couple of years, associations have done a remarkable job of adapting to rapid changes they might never have expected. The experience has brought out the best in member-based organizations.
It also revealed gaps and limitations that associations will need to overcome to ensure a resilient organization and a sustainable future.
Now, associations are demanding more from their software vendors. The tech tools they choose must make every aspect of the business easier, not harder.
- Streamline workflows: It’s no longer OK to require 35 steps and 13 screens in 4 applications to onboard a new member. Staff must have a 360-degree view of every member—accessible from a centralized database, actionable in a single dashboard.
- Engage staff and foster collaboration: Working from home? Working across chapters, regions, and countries? Lack of alignment within teams seriously impacts the outcome of tasks and projects. Shared information, views, and insights are essential.
- Connect members in both physical and virtual worlds: Well-run events, whether virtual, in-person or hybrid, and online communities ensure that members can interact with each other and with you at a personal level no matter where they are.
- Remove barriers to engagement: Mobile apps give your members access to your association right where they need it: in their pockets.
- Centralize and empower professional development: Still sending members off your site to register for training and webinars? An integrated learning management system (LMS) makes it easier for members to see your association as their total professional resource.
- Simplify payments and transactions: E-commerce is more than membership and subscription renewals. As associations diversify their non-dues revenue streams, a simple upfront purchase and a streamlined backend connection to accounting are critical.
- Personalize member outreach: Marketing and communications rely on automated solutions that are turnkey and adaptable—and ensure you get the right message to the right person, every time.
- Make data visible and useable: Business intelligence and analytics have never been more important—or more ubiquitous. Sharing meaningful data across all levels of the association enables your whole organization to move forward with confidence.
Back Away from the Proprietary AMS: Association Platforms Are the Future
Making all the interactions for all the users simple is, well, complicated—especially if you limit your search to systems that are similar to what you have now. Looking for software that works the same way as your current system will get you just that—more of the same.
An association platform provides a means to bring together all those requirements. It ensures your tools and applications are current and continually updated. And it adapts and scales over time—without requiring a costly upgrade or system replacement every few years.
The top association platforms provide association-tailored, full-featured, flexible business software—built on the stable foundations of the world’s leading true-cloud CRM solutions, Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics 365. This native, integral design delivers a user experience that is truly transformative.
Reducing tech complexity is no longer an option in a virtual-first world that demands instant responsiveness and agility.
To learn more about the advantages of association platforms—and discover how they are different from cloud-hosted or proprietary association software—visit our Platforms Explained learning center.