Association management software (AMS) systems typically include out-of-the-box functionality to support most of the organization’s basic processes. But what do you do when your association has a unique need that can’t be addressed through basic setup? That’s when the architecture of the AMS system becomes important: Is it configurable or is it customizable? The two are not the same and we’d like to explain the difference!
What does configurable mean?
- Out-of-the-box functionality allows you to tailor many aspects of the product yourself or through the AMS vendor’s services team or partners to meet your needs.
- Do-it-yourself configurability makes this a cost-effective option for associations, especially when tailoring complex processes. There are no maintenance fees to worry about either!
- Tailoring the product does not modify the source code, helping to ensure the configured processes and functionality are not “broken” when the product is upgraded to a new version.
Tech Term: “Declarative Development”: Declarative development allows you to design, automate and integrate without having to rely on custom code.
What does customizable mean?
- Adapting the product to your specific needs typically requires hiring a developer. Associations sometimes choose this option when they have a critically important need that is not addressed within the AMS.
- Paying for software development services can become expensive when customizing complex processes.
- Customizing the product involves modifying the source code. These modifications may “break” when the product is upgraded to a new version, which sometimes requires the association to stay on a previous version until their customizations can be modified to work with the latest version of the software.
Tech Tip: If you hire someone to customize your AMS, be sure to have them thoroughly document their modifications for future reference.
Industry consultants have also discussed the distinct difference between configuration and customization. Ann McDermott, a senior consultant for Delcor, a leading association and nonprofit technology consulting firm stated, “When you talk about customization to association technology professionals and consultants, the stories keep coming. It starts sounding like a group IT therapy session. You won’t find too many customization fans among those who have been around the implementation block a time or two.”
The Nimble AMS Approach to Configuration
Nimble AMS was created with the philosophy that the product will need to be tailored in countless ways and needed to be flexible. Using this framework first approach, the association management software can be configured with clicks, not code – so you have a system that meets your needs without the added cost or risk of custom coding. This approach enables delivery of a continuous stream of upgrades while keeping all customers on the latest version of the technology and without the risk of “breaking” their solution.
So you have a system that meets your needs without the added cost or risk of custom coding.
What this means to your association
Associations that go the path of configuring their association management system rather than customizing typically see less risk since customizations by nature introduce risk. They also reduce their expenses and total cost of ownership by leveraging the product’s out of the box functionality and configuring as needed rather than paying for expensive customizations.
Sigmund VanDamme, Co-Founder of Nimble AMS, Membership Evangelist for Community Brands.