Not All Databases Are Created Equal
In the past 25 plus years of working with associations, I have seen many different databases and trust me — they are not all created equal. From multiple leading online Association Management Software (AMS) services like MemberClicks and iMIS all the way to the worst of the worst:
To clarify: in no way, shape or form does Excel replace an actual database. The data you need to store about your members or volunteers needs to be easily viewed in a screen, not on a line in a spreadsheet.
If your association is bogged down in managing member data, engagement and information and considering a switch, start by answering these questions:
- Do you have individual members, company members or a combination of both?
- Do you need to accept payments, manage events or programs offered to your members?
- Do you offer members access to their profile to make payments, update information, or purchase products?
- Do you manage committees or volunteers?
- Do you need a financial management tool to track revenue?
- Do you have education or certification data to track?
- Do you need a website integrated with the database?
Once you figure out the answer to the questions, start the search for an AMS that will covers the features you need. Here are a few pro tips from advising associations over the years:
- Current needs are important but don't forget long-term growth and data needs. You don't want to have a system held together by bubble gum and duct tape in 5 years.
- Price is important but should never be the final factor in determining your selection.
- Look for customer support from the software vendor that is hopefully included with the annual price you pay.
- Make sure software updates are included or you could really get behind on technology.
- Finally, look a product that is easy to set up and administer. You may be the person using the software now, but you want to make sure future users have a good experience as well.
If you're considering a database transition and need support, reach out to Team Amplify and pick our brains. These are big decisions and we'll be happy to share our experience.