Another AMSFest in the Books

Gretchen Steenstra | 11.12.19
Topics: Events, AMS - Data - Membership
I have attended all of the AMSFest events and have been consistently impressed by the value provided to associations who are researching association management system (AMS) options. AMSFest 2019 was no exception, and DelCor was proud to contribute.

This year, I hosted an AMS Selection and Data Preparation Bootcamp with Joan Menzer, a fellow DelCor consultant, and Katherine Matthews, Data Manager at the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB).

We worked with a group of 30 association executives to discuss the major decisions and processes required to select an AMS and how to incorporate data decisions throughout the process.


AMS Selection

During the AMS Selection Bootcamp we discussed:

  • Defining and distinguishing features of AMS platforms
  • Systems an association should have in its ecosystem
  • Average duration of a selection and implementation
  • Components of a Request for Proposal (RFP)
  • Steps involved in writing requirements (it’s harder than it sounds)

Selection Process

Throughout the session, the group completed sections of a Selection Dashboard. This is a tool that you can use to summarize important aspects of your project with your team, leadership, and vendors.


Here are 8 things you should ALWAYS do as part of your selection:

  1. Set up a project charter to define the project goals, team members, milestones
  2. Add the AMS project to each core team member’s annual goals
  3. Create an intro section of the RFP to outline information about your association, including:
    • About the association
    • Goals and objectives
    • AMS project goals and how will you measure them
    • The most important business processes (e.g., scenarios, examples)
    • All vendor partners and how they are supporting the association
  4. Do your research
  5. TALK to vendors about your project
  6. Schedule a demo and communicate a list of features you want to see—features that align with your association’s critical business processes/functions
  7. Share your budget range
  8. Understand short-term and long-term project costs
Below are a sample of dashboards that were discussed during the session. Your association may consider sharing selection considerations visually to highlight key areas:



Primary Concern


Data Preparation

During the second half of the session we discussed DATA! If you do not consider data from the start of the AMS project, you will be disappointed with reports and analytics when you launch.

Ask: What are you going to do with the information once you have it?

Ask: Will the information be used to make business decisions or drive deeper analysis?

Ask: Are we willing to look at data that might yield uncomfortable results?

Data Governance

Inventory your data, define it, and develop rules for its use for business and interaction with systems.


Data Retention

Does your association have a data retention policy? If you do, then put it into action and delete data that is no longer relevant. DO IT!

If your association does not have this policy – create one and follow it. It is SO MUCH BETTER to have ‘less data’ that is accurate and reliable than a data hoard that will not produce meaningful results.

Data Analytics

Once you inventoried and tidied up the data assets, consider how frequently the data will change. This will help inform how you configure integration with other systems…including data analytics tools.


Which data points are unlikely to change frequently?

  • Membership join date
  • Name

Which data points are more fluid but it's the now that matters most?

  • Years in the industry
  • Position

Which data points are more fluid and the evolution is valuable?

  • Preferences
  • Event Attendance

What Next?

Is your head hurting? While I think putting a process together is easy and fun, I learned that others find it difficult and exhausting. I admit, I am a process nerd and love to figure out how solve the selection puzzle.

Seek opportunities to use a wide variety of tools to manage the project from effective kick off meetings to collecting requirements. For example, during DelCor’s bootcamp we provide PM POKER® educational workshops to help develop project management and communication best practices. In this workshop we use our PM POKER® playing cards as a team communication learning tool to support project management training.

Other ideas we shared:

  • Add visual information to reinforce key information within the project
  • Use a RACI approach to support communication
  • Develop requirements using cases or scenarios
  • Map processes and data flow

Gretchen discussed AMSFest on a recent episode of our Reboot IT podcast.

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