5 Secret Weapons to Improve Your Approach to Changing Your AMS
If you're thinking about changing your AMS (association management software), you know that the decision is significant. While you and your staff know that big (and good) changes are ahead, it's very difficult to picture not doing what you've always done, the way you've always done it. It's basic human nature to be suspicious, if not outright fearful, of change. Fortunately, solid change management practices will help you get from here to there in the process of adopting a new system.
1. Assemble a Team of Change Leaders
The true leaders of an organization may or may not carry leadership titles, like "manager" or "chief" of something. Sometimes, leaders are just the people who others trust and tend to follow.
The important thing to realize when you're choosing members for the team to lead the charge is that change leaders may or may not be the people with actual leadership titles. Within every organization there are people who others naturally flock to, follow, and trust. Identify these people and use them to anchor your change management team. A corporate sponsor can also be helpful in larger associations.
2. Create a Sense of Urgency Across the Organization
Procrastination and inertia have a strong grasp on things just not getting done, and people won't be willing to give up the old way of doing things until there is a sense of urgency in doing so. Identify the threats to the association if AMS software is not adopted (loss of members, heavier workloads, the inability to comply with auditors, etc.). Explain the scenarios that could occur if processes aren't improved. Make it real to them, just like doctors make it real when they mention the onset of a serious disease caused by an unhealthy lifestyle.
3. Develop a Vision for the Future After the Change Is Implemented
What will it look like after the AMS software is in place and operating smoothly? It's much easier to accept and adapt to change when you can picture what it's going to look like. Empower your change leaders to express across the association and at every opportunity, how the changes will affect employees and their work.
4. Identify the Obstacles and Develop Strategies for Overcoming Each One
What are the roadblocks to adopting a new AMS? Perhaps there are budget issues to resolve. Maybe there are naysayers among your association who are making it hard for others to embrace the change. Sometimes, the obstacles are more practical, such as a need to put better processes in place before going live on a new system. Identify the problems, and then develop a clear and actionable strategy for overcoming each one.
5. Set Up for Success by Achieving Small Goals Quickly
As a kid, I had my heart set on owning a new stereo (this was, admittedly, long before I had my entire music library on my phone, of course). When I thought about how much it cost, I thought I'd never own one. So I enrolled in a kids savings program the local bank was running. For every $25 depositied, the bank would give out small toys--pencils, candy, etc. Striving toward those smaller goals gave me reason to celebrate, even if my stereo was still several months away.
As kids, we celebrated small victories with candy. It's important to honor small wins during an implementation, too. And your staff will probably still enjoy the sugar rush.
This is an easy-to-picture way of looking at organizational changes. Set at least one small goal that can be met quickly without much expense and effort. Once that goal is met, use the lessons you learned and the excitement over a win to drive your association toward the next win, and then the one after that. Focus on the wins throughout the implementation until it's done. Then you can focus on the wins that your new system will bring you.
How does this process actually work? You can learn how when you download our e-book: Implementing Your AMS: What to Expect Along the Way.
About Jennifer Barrell
As the Director of Content, Branding & Buzz at Aptify, Jen oversees the strategy and execution of brand management and content production across the organization’s global offices. She thrives on bringing compelling content and useful information to associations to help them grow and engage their membership. She's also an avid fan of mid-century modern design and all things science fiction.