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The Power of Convergence: An Integrated AMS Delivers True Value to Your Association & Your Members

by | Oct 29, 2013 | Industry News & Trends

Association Management Software (AMS) provides the opportunity for any association, regardless of size, to be able to provide more value to their members with less. An AMS provides the ability to create efficiencies in systems and personnel that frees an association from having to undertake major investments in capital and human resources to conduct it’s daily business.

But not all systems are equal. There are over 100 AMS systems that are commercially available, and that claim to focus on specific target markets. There are many things to consider when looking at new software (be it an AMS, off the shelf, or something else), and it is important to look beyond the bells and whistles of the functionality, and consider the company behind it. Service will often be as important as the product. The best option available today that delivers the functionality and value associations need is a fully integrated AMS.

The definition of an integrated platform varies from company to company, so let’s clear the air. Simply put, an integrated AMS is “a system that houses everything you will need under one roof.” Why is this important? It eliminates the need and potential headaches of having to deal with multiple vendors to achieve a singular goal – to meet the technology needs of your association customers and their customers, better known as their members.

When you are looking at technology providers, it is critical make sure you are truly getting everything that you are asking for. Some might have a great database offering but lack a sufficient website option, or vice versa. Some might specialize in event registration, but offer no member database to connect with registration information. Some might make you use third party vendors for your e-commerce needs, and that can often be extraordinarily expensive. When you do not get everything you need under one roof, your staff is faced with wasting valuable time and resources to manage your association’s day-to-day technology needs.

So what are some of the keys areas where an integrated AMS delivers real value? Here are three to consider:

1. Efficiency and Staff Resource Savings

The simple truth is having the ability to utilize one complete set of tools to manage your association creates efficiencies in time and personnel resources. Your staff can become product experts and accomplish more, faster and without the need to add personnel as you grow your organization.

2. Avoid Integration Problems

When trying to effectively manipulate multiple systems to do basic work, unforeseen problems can easily creep into the workflow. These systems have to talk to one another behind the scenes, and simple updates by one system can cause breakdowns effecting one or more of the others. Your staff does not have the time to determine who is to blame to get a pressing problem resolved. An integrated system not only works seamlessly, but there is only one support team you have to work with whenever you have questions or issues.

3. Non-dues Revenue Growth

An integrated AMS can offer built in non-dues revenue components that can provide greater member value, and help boost your bottom line. Helping to easily drive non-dues revenue through your AMS with job boards or buyer’s guides, for example, can help create a more valuable relationship between your association and your members.

The Proven Value of an Integrated AMS for Ewald Consulting

Ewald Consulting is an association management company (AMC) located in Minneapolis/St. Paul and Chicago, with more than 30 years experience working with associations. Ewald works with 45 associations including state, national and international organizations. They represent a wide range of professions and industries, including everything from qualitative research, to training development, to staff position recruiters. They provide a number of programs and services to their customers like education, conferences to connect members, and certification programs, to name a few. For many groups the relationship with Ewald is about the ability to network with their peers and to collaborate as subject matter experts to help take the profession to the next level.

Kathie Pugaczewski, CAE, CMP, is the vice president of communication and technology for Ewald, and has worked in association management for 25 years. According to Kathie an integrated AMS is key to their long-term success.

“The question for us has been how do we use technology as a tool to engage all generations of members and get them involved with their associations,” said Kathie. “Our competition today is not other associations – it’s Amazon, Google, and Apple. It comes down to the experience our members have with large companies and the fact they are having those same expectations of the associations they belong to. We have to deliver that value within the organization’s budget constraints.”

“The more we use an integrated system the more we get out of it,” Kathie remarked. “Our members are challenging us to do more. It makes us think differently, and allows us to deliver new services across our customer roster. We’re excited because our staff can get the training they need, but more importantly, we’re able to create deeper engagement with the associations and their members, and identify best practices and apply them across the board, helping move the organizations ahead. It’s about having a great set of tools and using them to your advantage.”

“It is important to think about where you are going as an organization,” she added. “Data is invaluable. I think people underestimate the value of data. When you merge data with your website you have the opportunity to really understand the members, identify and analyze any gaps in your offerings, and then take action. You need good data to discover the interests and needs of the association’s members and become proactive, rather reactive to those needs. You can better use their experience to create subject matter experts and provide more valuable content to the members. In today’s world, without great content you will fail.

“A fully integrated system keeps you from getting bogged down by all of the manual tasks you’re faced with,” Kathie said. “A good system helps us get the repetitive stuff down so that we can concentrate on the cool stuff, which is what our members want. Our staff becomes knowledge workers instead of busy workers.”

Having your association working on single integrated AMS will ultimately deliver real value to your association, and the members you serve. If you have never taken a look at what an integrated system can do for your organization, now is the time. The opportunities are there if you are ready to move your company and clients to a technology that has been built for your success.


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