Found culture match and innovation with Nimble AMS

​The American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) was established after World War II by a group of surgeons from the armed forces. They wanted to build upon the knowledge that they had gained while treating hand injuries for soldiers, so they planned an annual meeting to continue the exchange of information and explore how to best care for injuries and conditions of the complicated and delicate hand. Since 1946, ASSH has grown from 35 surgeons, excited about sharing ideas, to nearly 4,000 members spanning the entire globe who are all dedicated to advancing the science and practice of caring for your hands and arms.

Mark Anderson, the Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of ASSH has nearly 35 years of experience in the association space and just celebrated his 18th anniversary with ASSH. A change agent by heart, Mark knew they needed to replace their underperforming AMS and find a true technology partner. He was interested in moving to a Salesforce-based platform but was also just as interested in the culture of the organization he would be partnering with. We sat down with Mark to understand just how big of a role culture played in ASSH and their decision to move to Nimble AMS.

​Culture Matters – Do Your Homework

“I hated the AMS we had. I had delegated the last AMS search. If I had walked into the front doors of our previous AMS company, I never would have agreed to it.”

With this latest search, Mark led the initiative and visiting the office of potential vendors was a top priority this time. After contemplating the normal RFP items, Mark recalled a conversation that resonated with him. “I remember walking into the NimbleUser office and meeting with Dawn (CEO), Sig (Chief Customer Officer), Jeff (Director of Consulting) and Joe (Director of Sales). I noticed Sig had on some fun colored socks and I commented on them. His reply to me was, ‘This is the first time I have worn socks in a long time. I normally wear flip flops.’” Mark said that resonated with him and was one of the first signs that NimbleUser and ASSH shared their vision of an open-space, collaborative, casual  and fun work environment. Mark continued, “We did the due diligence and all of the normal assessment, but from that moment on I had a strong predisposition to NimbleUser — partly because Sig wore flip-flops to the office.”

Mark recalled his meeting with the other vendor’s CEO, “I met him twice and both times he was in a three piece suit. They explicitly stated that they were focused on software, not implementation/service. I didn’t want that. It was clear that the executive was interested in building and selling software companies. The office environment did not have the feel I was interested in.”

Mark offers this advice to those associations that value culture as much as ASSH: “Go to both offices and meet with the people you would work with. Consultants that lead RFP processes don’t do this. I am so glad I did as it has been the best AMS experience I have ever had.” With Mark’s extensive history in the association space, he is trying to emphasize to others that culture matters and has shared this idea at the 2016 ASAE Great Ideas Conference.

​Platform With Momentum

​Mark’s search for a Salesforce-based AMS started with the understanding of Salesforce.com’s industry reputation. The cloud-based software company had won numerous innovation awards. Mark recalled that their prior AMS was the ‘fake cloud’ (locally hosted) and not designed for, of and by the cloud. He stated, “It seemed like Salesforce was a platform with momentum. It was progressive, modern and going to stick around for the long term.”

The Salesforce1 mobile app allows Mark to access Nimble AMS anywhere he is traveling. “When I am on the road and get an email from a past president to update his information and I can personally do that in a matter of seconds; that is a game changer.”

​Happy Marriage

​Discovery, Service, and Implementation“This is my 11th or 12th AMS in my career and the Discovery process was like no other that I have ever been through.” With funny, yet accurate observations like “torturous thoroughness” and “tedious compulsion,” Mark said it was “the most thorough and comprehensive process” he had ever been a part of in an AMS implementation. Mark compared the Discovery process to the engagement phase of a marriage. He said, “The Discovery process gave me confidence that NimbleUser was professional and thorough in their approach. The lengthy Discovery allowed for a better implementation.”

As they approached their “Go-Live” date Mark recalled that even when there were hiccups, nothing went for more than two days without getting addressed or fixed. “The reaction time and follow through on NimbleUser’s part has been tremendous. It has been better than any other AMS I have worked with.”

​Life with Nimble AMS

“Heavy users of the AMS are really happy. I knew we had a breakthrough when one of my toughest critics on staff approached me after a meeting and said ‘this is going to be better.’”

​ASSH enjoys the Community Hub e-Commerce Portal of Nimble AMS and feels this sets it apart from other Salesforce-based association management systems. “Certain developments in this product will change the way we do business with our constituents.” He also remarked, “Community Hub is a powerful way for people to take control of the member experience.”

ASSH is seeing a change in their technical staff who have been inspired by the new platform. Their web developers are learning VisualForce and reports that used to be produced by their previous vendor — taking 6 weeks and costing upwards of $6000 — are now being done in-house by ASSH in a matter of a day or less. Even after implementation, ASSH has completed VisualForce training with NimbleUser consultants to make them even more self-sufficient in this area.

Mark concluded with a story from the recent Great Ideas Conference. He said he ran into two people he knows. Both had recently gone through the AMS selection process. One chose the system ASSH had been on prior to Nimble AMS and the other chose the “three piece suit” referenced in this blog. He said, “Both realized they had made bad decisions. They just spent all of this money and knew they would be stuck for years.”