digitalNow Recap: Living in the Dark to State of the Art

Nimble AMS Founder and Chief Customer Officer, Sigmund VanDamme, and Bruce Moe, Executive Director of Missouri State Teachers Association (MSTA), presented a session, “Living in the Dark to State of the Art” at the recent digitalNow conference.  The session focused on learning how to diagnose if an Association’s Management Software (AMS) is part of the problem, how to understand and recognize technical debt as well as strategies for using the AMS effectively.

Bruce told the digitalNow audience of Executive Directors and CEO’s, “You don’t know what you don’t know until you ask.” And when Bruce asked his staff, he discovered :

  • Their data was in the dark for most staff and all members
  • Their access to emerging trends was in the dark
  • Their relevance to younger members was in the dark
  • Their ability to make data-driven decisions was in the dark

The AMS is the Heart of Your Association

​If your heart is working well, you do not think about it.  If it is failing, you can think of nothing else.

Bruce and Sig compared the AMS to being the “heart” of an association as it is vital to the many other dependent systems in the organization.
MSTA could summarize their AMS problem with these 9 symptoms:​

  1. Staff dissatisfaction
  2. Member dissatisfaction
  3. Business objectives impaired
  4. Rogue databases appear
  5. Support/enhancement costs
  6. Painful and costly upgrades
  7. Integration difficult / impossible
  8. Extensibility difficult / impossible
  9. Technical debt

Is a Heart Transplant Needed?

It was obvious that MSTA needed a heart (AMS) transplant. The analogy of the AMS being like the heart proved very useful in communicating the importance, complexity and risk of changing the AMS. Most staff spent their time focused on the software that they used (e.g. Accounting). However, they needed to understand the enormity of the change for the whole organization AND how it impacted their environment.

Key Takeaways for Associations Facing a Similar Challenge:

  • Make deep technological change when the risk of NOT changing is greater than the risk of switching.
  • Look to leverage developed, established industry standard platforms and ecosystems. These systems will enable your association to integrate and extend to meet member needs quicker, faster and cheaper than ever before.
  • Make decisions about technology that will position you to take advantage of opportunities that you may not even see yet. Always “play long ball” in regards to technology.
  • Examine emerging trends outside of narrow association specific focus as these new trends often surface there first.

Key Questions Associations Should Ask:

  • Is this initiative adding or paying down technical debt? If adding, what is our debt payment going to be?
  • Is our current technology enabling business objectives, or hindering them? In what ways?
  • Are your staff active collaborators in using and extending the AMS or are they on the sideline? Why?
  • Are your key applications (i.e., accounting, events, website, etc) tightly integrated with your AMS or barely exchanging data?
  • Do you dread the thought of AMS upgrades because of the disruption and cost or do you look forward to the new capabilities they introduce?

Turn on the Light

Are you experiencing similar symptoms or feeling in the dark? Contact Nimble AMS to learn more.

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