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CSAE Summer Summit Lightning Talk: Convincing Your Board to Invest in an AMS

July 12, 2019
CSAE Summer Summit Lightning Talk: Convincing Your Board to Invest in an AMS

As the executive in an association, how do you convince your board to invest in an AMS?

This was the focus of Kevin Jackson's Lightning talk today at CSAE's Summer Summit. 

The high impact presentation saw Kevin take the crowd through 20 slides in just five minutes. So what were some of the key take-aways?

  • Be more prepared than your board. The last thing you want to do when bringing an ask to your board is to have your objectives sidelined by an "expert" board member... because you were not prepared. When getting ready for the meeting be sure to familiarize yourself not only with software solutions you are recommending, but also other solutions outside the association industry that your members may use.
  • Custom, standard or hybrid? Be clear about what type of system your association needs. A lot has changed from years past when custom systems were common. Today associations are much more likely to select a standardized software-as-as-service (SaaS) solution or hybrid SaaS solution, leaving custom solutions to special situations where requirements are highly unique and the likelihood of change over time is very low. We have experience developing all three system types and have found that for most associations, the hybrid solution provides the best balance of value, scalability and flexibility. Having a good understanding of the different options and which solution would best meet the needs of your association will help you successfully position your request to your board.
  • Follow proven processes to determine your best path. It can be tempting to skip steps and initiate the selection of a platform before doing a lot of detailed work, but this can be very costly in the long run. While it will require an investment of time, it is very important to truly understand what your members and staff will require from an association management system before drafting the system requirements and presenting to the board.
  • Think about the board dynamics. While people volunteer to sit on boards for many different reasons, each board member often has a strong personal motivation behind his or her service, whether that is career development, seeking recognition or being able to steer the direction of the association. Then within the board there are also different influencers and dynamics. Depending on the makeup of your board, some members will be more or less confident than they might be with other discussion topics when technology is on the table. Before bringing your plan for an AMS system to the board, consider how these dynamics could impact your presentation and be prepared to support each board member in making a final decision, including those with a low level of technology knowledge.
  • Incorporate privacy and security in your approach. The importance of recognizing your role as a custodian of member data is extremely important. Following the principles of Privacy by Design, it is extremely valuable to think about privacy and security from the very start of the process. When you do this you will want to consider what data you currently collect versus what you actually need to collect and how you can be transparent with members about the data you are collecting.  It is also important to think about where your data is being physically hosted and what laws will apply to your system given its geographical location.


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