How Much Does an Association Management System Really Cost?
If your organization is in the market for a new Association Management System (AMS), or if you’re comparing different membership software systems, the first question you’re asking is, “How much does it cost?”
There’s not a lot of information out there about this; I’m sure you’ve noticed that most vendors will want to set up a call with you before they give you any substantial information. The main reason for this is that the answer isn’t cut and dry...
AMS pricing is largely dependent on six factors:
- How will you select it?
- How will you pay for it?
- What do you want it to do?
- How will you implement it?
- Who will be using it?
- How long do you plan on using it?
Answers to each of these questions are as diverse as the organizations that are tasked with them. And that’s why the answer to the bottom line question, "How much does an AMS cost?," isn’t necessarily a simple one.
Learn the six factors of pricing, and get a ballpark estimate of what you can expect to pay for a new Association Management System with our ultimate pricing toolkit.
The Costs Outside the Price
Aside from the price of the software are the costs associated with the process of choosing a new system and then getting it working the way you want it to. You may chose to work with a vendor selection consultant or you might bring in someone to help you write an RFP. If you decide to make the decision independently, you’ll also need to consider the cost of using in-house staff to spearhead the project.
The same applies to implementation costs and in-house project management. It’s incredibly important to dedicate personnel hours to both of these as the process matures. Asking existing staff to manage an AMS implementation on top of their day-to-day jobs can easily burden the most optimistic and efficient teams. This might mean you’ll need to upstaff during this time or reallocate internal resources, which will impact project costs.
The Association Management Software Itself
Whether you’re buying something as simple as a pencil or as complex as membership software, you aren’t going to make a final decision to purchase until you know what you’re buying will do what you want it to do.
Do you need the AMS to manage all your activities, from education and events to inventory and fundraising? Are you using your software to run your online store? How many people are using it daily?
There are so many variations of discrete business processes within systems that even defining the requirements can get complicated quickly. As with any buying decision, the more complex the requirements are, the higher the ultimate price tag.
The Impact of Price Over Time
The investment you’re making now will have a direct impact on how much you spend—or have to spend—in the years to come. The cost to maintain your AMS at the level required to run your business can quickly increase over time if the software you choose today can’t adapt to changing needs.
When setting a budget for a new membership system, consider how you’ll use it in the future as well as today. Is the system you’re considering built with a guaranteed upgrade path? Will you need to rebuild the system with your specific modifications each time there’s a new release? Will you be able to scale up as your membership grows?
- There isn't a "cut-and-dry" answer for how much an association management system actually costs. It depends on six various factors.
- Don't forget about the additional costs associated with the price of the actual software; you'll also need to consider what goes into the process of choosing a new system, ensuring the system works the way you need it to, and implementation costs.
- If you have more complex requirements for your association management software, you may see the price tag increase.
- If your software cannot adapt to changing needs in the future, the cost to maintain it may increase over time.
For a more in-depth walkthrough of Association Management System pricing, read through our Ultimate Pricing Toolkit for Membership Software. This includes closer looks at the six factors that impact software costs and an overview of what you can expect to spend on an AMS.
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.