Best practices for a successful AMS implementation and launch

Is your organization preparing to adopt new technology? The prospect can be challenging.  
Choosing the right association management software (AMS) is a major decision. Your organization needs to do its research before deciding on the right technology for your staff and members.  
Additionally, you need to prepare for a successful project implementation and the launch of your new AMS. The process takes time, effort, and patience—but the prospect of new technology can be one of the most exciting opportunities for your association.  
Learn how to set the stage for a successful AMS implementation and software launch. Read our blog to get started.  

How to prepare for your implementation

Follow these steps to ready your organization for your association mangement software (AMS) implementation: 

1. Assess your needs and set objectives

As you prepare for your software adoption, take time to identify your association’s unique technological needs. Identifying your organization’s objectives and defining specific goals for your AMS implementation will help you achieve success faster.

Begin by considering your top technological priority. Maybe you want to enhance the member experience or to advance staff processes? Set your AMS implementation goals to advance these aims.

Phi Kappa Phi chose Nimble AMS because of its flexibility and ability to grow with the national honor society and its staff. Additionally, the organization valued Nimble AMS’ dynamic reports and dashboards and member management features.

2. Engage your stakeholders 

Keep communication open with your board members, key stakeholders, and staff by establishing communication channels for feedback and collaboration. You might also consider setting a communication timeline where you share vital implementation updates with your stakeholders to keep them up to date on the latest software adoption happenings.

3. Create your implementation team 

It’s crucial to consider who will be on your AMS implementation team. Determine which stages of the software adoption they will be working, and overcommunicate on your expectations for how your team will lead during this time.

Provide training for your team members on your new AMS and its capabilities. It can also be helpful to acknowledge there will be growing pains as your staff and key stakeholders adjust to your new AMS. This will help your team set realistic expectations for the implementation.

To successfully prepare Phi Kappa Phi’s 300+ chapters, staff, and stakeholders for a successful software adoption, the organization created a project team, guiding and mentoring all team members during the implementation.

“During our implementation, we’ve worked with our staff and management to ensure everyone is on the same page about how we’re leveraging Nimble AMS to future-proofing our organization,” Anita Joshi, IT Director of Phi Kappa Phi

4. Allocate resources

Without the proper resources, you won’t have a successful software adoption. Work with your board, leadership team, and other key stakeholders to allocate valuable resources such as budget, time, and technology infrastructure to prepare for your AMS implementation. 

During a software adoption, it’s wise to plan for the unexpected. Take time to develop contingency plans to address unplanned challenges during your AMS implementation. Doing so can help you allocate additional resources in the off chance your organization would need them.

5. Prepare your data

As you get ready for your AMS implementation, you’ll also want to prepare your data. Review your records to make sure you need your data. Consider if your data will be used in the future and practice data hygiene. If you don’t need it in the future, you won’t need to bring the data over in your implementation.  

Phi Kappa Phi, has over 1 million records, with suspended records, and tons of data from 127 years as an organization. The Phi Kappa Phi implementation team sought to future-proof its system and went through multiple levels of scanning and segmenting its data. Before transferring certain records, the team asked: do we need this data, will we be using this record in the future, does this need be transferred? If the answer was no, the record wasn’t brought over.

“Our goal with leveraging Nimble AMS is to future-proof Phi Kappa Phi, to increase flexibility within our organization, and to empower our staff,” said Joshi.

5 tips to successfully launch your AMS  

After preparing for your implementation, you’ll be on track to launch your AMS. Here are five tips to successfully launch your new technology: 

1. Leverage training programs 

Be engaged in all vendor training throughout your AMS implementation. Train your staff along the way with webinars, videos, articles, and FAQs to keep people excited and ready to use your new AMS upon launch. As you work with your staff, try tailoring your training content to various user roles within your association to ensure the content is relevant and not overwhelming.

When your staff feel adequately trained in how to use your new technology, they’ll feel empowered to use your AMS, being self-sufficient to meet your members’ needs.

2. Develop a communication strategy 

Consider creating a communication plan to inform your members about your AMS launch. You might want to utilize multiple channels to spread your message about your AMS launch, including your social media, association website, email blasts, member townhalls, and traditional mailing, to ensure a broad reach and increased understanding about your technology changes.

Developing a schedule and plan for how you will reach out to members is a helpful way to boost member morale in a time of transition.

3. Embrace transparency 

Create a process for feedback during your AMS implementation to increase trust in your association. Be honest with your staff and members about how the new software will impact them and communicate any major changes or perceived setbacks.

Also consider establishing processes to address feedback promptly and transparently. For example, you could try routinely surveying your staff or implementation team about how they feel the adoption process is going.

4. Be open to change 

One of the biggest challenges your organization may face during its AMS implementation is not being open to doing things differently. Rather than being focused on the old way your association did something, try to embrace a new path to success.

Your AMS vendor will have best practices based on hundreds of software launches. Work with your vendor to find your organization’s best path forward.

5. Be engaged in the process 

During your AMS implementation, it’s crucial to take time to do software testing and be engaged in your training. See it as doing your homework during your software adoption process. You should also pay attention to your AMS implementation schedule to not delay your launch.

“Client involvement and testing has been great from the Phi Kappa Phi team. This makes the biggest difference in an implementation, and Anita and her project team are very hands on and involved which is great,” said Susan Ingerson, Community Brands Senior Project Manager.

Life after launch  

How can your organization drive continuous engagement with your new AMS? Follow these three top best practices to keep your staff and members connected with your organization and new technology:

1. Boost member Involvement

Post AMS launch, encourage your members to get involved in shaping your AMS functionalities and improvements. Consider selecting a few involved members to serve on a new AMS committee to offer vital feedback.

You can also seek to increase member transparency within your townhall meetings by requesting member feedback and sharing leadership responses.

2. Offer recognition and rewards

Give thanks to your implementation team and to your staff that put in extra work to learn your new technology. Acknowledging the staff members who excel in AMS usage and support can go a long way in helping them feel seen for their hard work.

You might even consider implementing an internal rewards program to incentivize active staff engagement within your AMS. For example, consider entering your staff who attend AMS trainings into gift card raffles or offering an extra PTO day.

3. Conduct post-implementation review

As you conclude your AMS implementation, be sure to conduct a comprehensive review of the software adoption process. Reviewing your implementation process is the best way to look back on what you’ve accomplished and consider what lessons you’ve learned.

As you conduct your review, be sure to document any notable lessons or best practices for future reference and improvement. During implementation, you might find you have a backlog of ideas or improvements you could also prioritize during this time. 

Learn more tips for a successful AMS implementation and software launch

Read our free whitepaper for more best practices to empower your entire organization: Your guide to implementing association management software (AMS).

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