Guest post by Nate Brown, Business Development Director at Naylor Association Solutions
Over the years, the team at Naylor Association Solutions has learned that PITA, or pain in the association, isn’t a unique phenomenon when it comes to implementing new AMS technologies. However, our team has learned some tried and true practices that will help associations avoid this pain.
Prior to the AMS Implementation Doesn’t Have to Be a PITA webinar, we shared a few implementation best practices, including starting your project with an open mind, always assigning a project manager, identifying AMS platform needs versus wants, and setting a realistic implementation timeline. Today we’re here to share a few additional key takeaways from our webinar that, if followed, will help ensure that your AMS implementation is as pain-free as possible.
Get Staff Buy-In
Once you have a project manager or a team leader, identify the best cross-departmental team possible to build out the scope of work requested. This team should help vet potential AMS vendors, come up with the RFP questions you plan to ask, and pin-point all the different departmental needs that need to be satisfied with this implementation. The more you can flesh out with the team prior to the launch of the project, the more transparent you can be with the vendor you selected. This in turn will save time and minimize stress for all involved, and will also help ensure that each department’s functionality and module requests are heard.
Talk to Your Current AMS Vendor
This might seem obvious, but talk to your current AMS vendor as early as possible so that you know what the data export process will be like as you move towards a new provider. The data transfer phase of the implementation process is unique in that you’ll have to coordinate with your newly selected vendor and your current vendor. This phase also involves a large number of processes that need to happen in a certain order – which means there’s no shortage of opportunities for delays along the way. However, if you start the conversation with your vendor early, you could potentially sidestep many hiccups that would haunt you down the AMS implementation road such as incorrect file formats, field global unique identifiers not matching, or worse.
Don’t Be a Hoarder
With the move to a new AMS, take the opportunity to “clean house” and only move over the data you truly need. The AMS will be your primary system of record, but it can still make sense to leave certain items offline in Excel or Word documents if it’s not information that needs to be called upon regularly. This can include past event history, previous or deceased members, or any number of other items depending on your association’s specific needs. What needs to be moved to a new AMS will differ by association. Remember, the less you move over, the less time it will take to migrate the data and the easier it will be to configure in your new system, which should lead to a smoother AMS implementation. Don’t miss this chance to optimize your new AMS to be lean and clean.
Revise & Finalize Your Plan
Once a vendor is selected, it is time to revise and finalize your project plan. Most likely by the time you have signed the contract with your new AMS vendor, your initial target date for implementation is much closer than anticipated. This is your first opportunity to be realistic and revise the plan. Talk to your new vendor and tell them your ideal “go live date” and identify an agreed upon completion deadline. This also gives you and your vendor the opportunity to identify changes that need to be made due to changing expectations on functionality, personnel needs, and concessions that need to be made specific to the vendor you selected. As you finalize the plan, confirm personnel roles and revise the timeline one last time, if needed.
To learn more, and take a deeper dive into how to avoid AMS implementation mishaps, we encourage you to watch the archived version of our webinar, AMS Implementation Doesn’t Have to Be a PITA, and download the corresponding eBook and checklist, How To Keep Your AMS Implementation From Becoming A PITA.