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Not All Databases Are Created Equal

Author: Kelly Kipping

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:

Excel spreadsheets.

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.

Not All Databases Are Created Equal