When an association experiences operational inefficiencies or struggles with gaining useful member intelligence to manage their business, the association management software often gets blamed. On the reverse side, association management software can be looked at as a hero when done right.
While finding the right fit is critical, having a strategy is even more important. Your association's overall plan should consist of goals, plans, tactics, measurements and analyses that drive your use of the technology to strengthen your organization.
Consider the following when building your association's technology strategy.
Define your objectives. What do you want your association management software to do? If you don't have objectives, the chances of being successful aren't great. But if you have measurable objectives like being able to integrate your financial system with your database or being able to track which members drive the most revenue, you'll be able to measure your success.
What systems can be integrated. If you're using separate systems for your database, website, events, finances, or communications consider if there's opportunity to condense into an integrated association management software solution.
Technology issues are usually part of a bigger issue. Don’t think that moving to a new technology will solve all of your technology problems. If you have issues with staff making updates in your current system, new software isn't going to fix that. If your staff thinks the system is too hard to use, consider if it's a training issue; there will be some sort of learning curve with any solution.
You need leadership. While you'll likely have multiple users at your organization, someone needs to lead the effort. This person is the advocate of the software and should have a close partnership with your association management software vendor, coordinate training for new staff, keep everyone updated on enhancements to the software, and more.
Document your processes. It doesn't have to be hundreds of pages long, but your processes should be documented in some way. What happens if a member drops? What information needs to be collected from a new member? What is the process for payment and how does that integrate with the system? Who is responsible for each piece? Even a simple document can help to keep your organization focused,eliminate confusion, and have staff working toward the same goal.
It has to be a cultural change/commitment. Everyone has to be on board for the strategy to work. If you have staff who aren't completely convinced, work through their concerns and get them the necessary training to be successful.
Make your vendor a part of your strategy. Choosing a vendor who cares about your success can be essential to a successful strategy. Look to your vendor for resources and best practices to help ensure your success.
Interested in learning more about how WebLink can help your association build a successful technology strategy? Contact us today.