Start a conversation about association management systems (AMS) at the next association event you attend—may I suggest ASAE15?—and see what happens. You might witness joy and despair, satisfaction and frustration, pride and anger. It’s hard to believe that enterprise software could arouse such emotions, but the AMS occupies a “special” place in the work lives of many association professionals.
Is the AMS dead?
Earlier this year, I joined Joanna Pineda, CEO of the Matrix Group, for a webinar about the top trends in the AMS market. As many of you prepare to meet with AMS providers at the ASAE Expo, it’s worth revisiting our conversation now.
Our conversation started with a topic that’s been on the minds of many in the ASAE Collaborate community: is the AMS dead?
One association executive who has given much thought to this question is AIIM president John Mancini. In fact, if you haven't already, read his e-book on the topic: The Death of the AMS. John will join me and ASAE CIO Reggie Henry at ASAE’s Technology Conference in December to further discuss the future of the AMS.
I don’t believe the AMS is dead, but I do believe its form will morph to some degree in the near future. Instead of a master system that does everything, we’ll see a number of applications coming together around a core database where most of an association’s records will reside. But, the AMS will still be the core—at least that’s how I see it.
Let’s take a look at the trends we’ve been talking about this year, and will continue to examine through our thought-provoking conversations, sessions, webinars, and blogs.
Trend #1: Integration still rules.
It's perfectly fine to have some functions residing outside your AMS, like content management, e-learning, or special financial functions. When you’re selecting an AMS, look for one that does most of the things you do.
I always advocate for the 80/20 rule: find an AMS that does 80% of what you need it to do, and modify your existing business processes for the remaining 20%. Don’t try to customize an AMS to fit all of your processes—that’s a time-consuming and expensive proposition, not only at implementation, but on an ongoing basis. Instead, take advantage of this opportunity to bring best practices to your operations and improve your business processes.
Start thinking about and discussing necessary integrations with both staff and vendors during the requirements gathering and selection processes so you can consider their impact on pricing, timing, and design. Don’t wait until implementation to have these discussions.
Next, I'll examine Trend #2: SaaS vs. Hosted association management systems.
Published 7/27/2015. Edited 7/28/15.
Flickr photo by SenselAlan