AMS Implementations are only 20% technology; the rest is governance.” Such were the provocative words by Thad Lurie, VP of Operations and CIO at EDUCAUSE, during the opening session at AMS Fest 2017 in Chicago earlier this month.
He made the case that with so many terrific and feature-rich AMS and CRM systems available to associations and non-profits, the success of an implementation and indeed the life of a system is no longer all about the data.
I couldn’t agree more. In our experience, it’s governance that ends up making or breaking an implementation. What makes up good governance?
- Having executive sponsorship and interest in the project. When the person at the top is paying attention, a project gets resources, people pay attention, and things get done.
- Having representation from all teams and departments on the implementation team.
- Not viewing the AMS and the implementation as an IT project. Putting IT solely in charge of your AMS implementation is akin to making membership recruitment is an IT project because applications are processed online.
- Being willing to change your business process to avoid costly customizations and to increase productivity.
- Having people on the team who are able to make decisions about changes to business process.
- Having a timeline that is aggressive, but not too aggressive.
- Devoting time each week to the implementation so the project doesn’t get stale.
- Having amazing project management on the client and vendor sides.
- A strong commitment to initial and ongoing training.
The system you select must meet 90% of your requirements and it must support absolutely mission critical functions, like your special membership eligibility rules that are in the bylaws. But beyond that, the success of your implementation really depends on the people and processes you put in place to manage the project. But you already knew that, didn’t you?