The entire process of researching, buying, and implementing new association management software (AMS) is a major job for any organization. Not only must you oversee the adoption and implementation of new technology, but the process involves managing communication and collaboration with multiple stakeholders.
For a successful AMS search, implementation, and launch, your association will need to manage the expectations of your shareholders. Here’s how to get started.
How to identify the key stakeholders in your AMS project
Before you can prepare for a successful AMS implementation, you’ll need to identify the vital stakeholders in your project. Try asking these questions:
- Are there levels of distinction between your stakeholders? Do staff leaders from different departments make up your larger stakeholder group? What about subject matter experts (SMEs)? Consider what makes each stakeholder unique and try separating them into smaller groups based on any shared similarities.
- How often do the stakeholders need updates? Once you understand how unique your stakeholders are, you can consider how frequently you’ll need to issue updates. For example, perhaps you’ll choose to send twice-weekly AMS project updates to SMEs, while you’ll choose to send weekly updates to staff leaders.
- How will you communicate with each group? Consider adapting your communication style based on the specific stakeholder groups. For example, you could send internal AMS project update emails for SMEs, host weekly meetings for staff leaders, and leverage a project website to keep all stakeholders updated.
Tips to help you manage expectations for your AMS
When it comes to your stakeholders, you’ll likely experience some with strong opinions. Here are some strategies for helping to get them on board with your AMS project:
- Embrace the process. To manage your stakeholders’ expectations, consider adopting a culture of change management at your association. Help stakeholders embrace the likelihood of change during your AMS project by creating a communication timeline to share news promptly. Routinely seek feedback from your stakeholders and communicate any changes that need to be made.
“It always comes down to managing expectations,” said Wes Trochlil, Owner of Effective Database Management. “I’m currently working with a client who’s doing a lot of configurations because they have many specialized needs. We just recently updated the original project charter because they realized several things weren’t reasonable to expect in short order and they also weren’t needed at go-live. That’s the key to managing expectations, you must revisit your association software needs as you go and be willing to be flexible about the product and project.”
- Be open-minded to change. To help your stakeholders be confident throughout the entire AMS project consider outlining a plan with multiple contingencies. Doing so can help your team plan for various outcomes and prepare for situations your association would want to avoid or need to mitigate. Remember, you’re not looking to recreate your old AMS in a new system. Being flexible will help you see your new AMS through a new lens.
“I love to begin the AMS project with contingency planning and considering different outcomes,” said Moira Edwards, President of Ellipsis Partners. “It is helpful to lay out plans before you’re sucked into the details of the project. And you must keep communicating. If your stakeholders don’t know what’s happening, then they’ll lose trust.”
- Be transparent. Boost communication between your leadership team and your stakeholders regarding your project timeline by creating a project website. Posting updates to your project site ensures the entire project team is notified. If your AMS implementation hits a delay, inform your key stakeholders so they won’t be unsure about the state of the progress and can have realistic expectations for the AMS project.
“Managing stakeholder expectations is all about being transparent and practicing good communication,” said Jeff Golebiewski, Vice President of Business Solutions and Partnerships, at Community Brands.
Learn more about preparing for your next AMS project
Managing stakeholder expectations and communicating clearly can make your next AMS selection, implementation, and launch a success. Discover more tips by watching our on-demand webinar—Your Next AMS: Build versus Buy