Tag Archives: Association Management

Leah Monica

Leah Monica

Who Should be in Charge of Your Membership Database Migration?

interlocked hands

I get asked this question a lot by clients and prospects: CEOs and Executive Directors who are about to embark on a move to a new membership database want to know who should be in charge
of the migration.

My answer: Not IT. Create a small committee that includes membership, meetings and IT, maybe one more department. Let me explain.

When IT is in charge of a project, the rest of the organization often tunes out the project. They assume the project is way too technical and they don’t need to be involved.

But a move to a new database is just the opposite. The entire organization must be aware of the details of a move to a new AMS (association management software): why you’re moving, what the new system is, how the organization will benefit, the process for the move, staff responsibilities, requirements and testing burdens, and the timeline.

Membership should be involved because, well, it is THE membership database after all. Membership needs to define the rules for who gets to be a member, who gets tracked, what information goes into the AMS, yada, yada. Membership also needs insight into why and how people and companies become members, which the database should provide.

Meetings should be involved because for more associations, conferences and courses are a major member benefit and revenue source. The new AMS needs to support the various events your organization sponsors AND have a user-friendly interface that encourages people to sign up.

If your organization has other, significant departments that must be supported by the database (e.g., publications, sponsorship, foundation), then by all means, give them a seat the table. In fact, insist they be at the table.

IT must be involved because IT can respond to the technical requests of your new vendor. Questions like: what version of SQL Server are you on? How does staff connect to the database to run reports? Can we get an export of all the data? What does this field mean? What are the legal values possible in this field?

Create a small committee, give the members joint responsibility, make them jointly accountable, and tell them they all need to love the new system before it can go live. If you need to assign one ultimate neck to wring, you decide which neck that will be. I vote for Membership. And tell membership to play well with the other departments in the sandbox.

Joanna Pineda

Joanna Pineda
CEO & Chief Troublemaker

The Best Membership Database for Trade Associations

If you work with or for an association, you know that a key difference in association types is whether the members are companies or individuals. Associations that have companies for members are typically called trade associations. While MatrixMaxx serves BOTH trade associations and professional societies, we have some unique features that specifically benefit trade associations.

  • Each company record can have one or more primary contacts. The primary contact can manage not just their own individual record, but also the company profile, and the profiles of all people attached to the company. Primary contacts can also mark staff attached to their company as former staff, retired or deceased, as well as add new individuals.
  • Companies can have relationships with other companies, which means we can support complex organizational hierarchies, e.g., a company that is a parent of three companies, and is it self the subsidiary of another company.
  • Individuals can have multiple affiliations because we know that in the corporate world, John Smith can be CEO of a holding company, President of the North American division, and Trustee of yet another firm.
  • We know that in many corporations, a single person must manage travel and event registration for multiple people at the company. This is why our Group Registration module allows a meeting coordinator to register up to hundreds of people from a family of related companies, pay with one credit card, and indicate who should receive the email confirmations and receipts.

There are many, many other ways in which MatrixMaxx is uniquely suited to the needs of trade associations. We hope you’ll request a demo to learn more!

Joanna Pineda

Joanna Pineda
CEO & Chief Troublemaker

Top 10 AMS Implementation Tips from Bruce Moe, ED at Missouri State Teachers Association

brucemoe-medLast week, I attended AMS Fest, an event organized by ReviewMyAMS that brought together a half dozen association management software (AMS) vendors and association execs exploring new systems.

 

One of the speakers was Bruce Moe, Executive Director of the Missouri State Teachers Association. MSTA recently went through an AMS implementation, and Bruce shared his top ten implementation tips. I loved his list so much I jotted them down to share.

  1. Put together a cross-functional team to be in charge of the implementation. A diverse team will bring different perspectives to the project, and team members can report back to the rest of the organization.
  2. Spend on technology as needed. For example, don’t limit the spending to the AMS project. You may need to upgrade laptops so staff can take advantage of new AMS functionality. You may need to upgrade your office connection to the internet.
  3. Invest in training and don’t stop. Staff who are trained in the system will be able to do what they need to do, and satisfaction with the system will increase.
  4. Make data hygiene a priority. Staff and members will trust the database only if it has good data. So put systems in place to make sure good data goes in from Day One. Get your vendor to put in good validation. Develop good policies and train to them. Audit data entry regularly.
  5. Ask for robust APIs. No single system will handle all of your membership needs, which means you’ll need APIs to connect all of your systems together. Develop use cases and ask your partner or potential vendor if they can accommodate your needs.
  6. Bend business process before bending the AMS. This is my favorite tip, btw. This is a fancy way of saying, “Rethink your processes and try to use baseline functionality before asking your AMS vendor to customize their system.” And please don’t try to replicate the databases and workflows from the old, broken system that you are trying to leave behind.
  7. Insist on “one truth” or the master database. Bruce said that when they started the migration process, they found a lot of rogue databases in Excel and Access. It’s hard to truly measure member engagement if data is not in one place, so he and his staff have worked hard to eliminate the rogue databases.
  8. Decentralize data entry. It’s impossible to have accurate, complete data if only a couple of people are responsible for data management. MSTA allows members to edit their own records. More importantly, every MSTA staff member has full access to edit individual and organization records because Bruce wants good, accurate data, and he expects staff to update the database when they learn of a change.
  9. Standardize processes and document them. You can’t have an effective staff training program unless you have defined your procedures and documented them somewhere.
  10. Stay current with upgrades. If you don’t stay current with your AMS, you’ll end up needing a major upgrade or reimplementation in the near future. Besides, keeping current means you get the latest security patches and new features.

Many of these tips sound so obvious but when followed, they will result in a really great, effective, low-drama implementation. How about you? What implementation strategies have worked for your organization?