Shopping for any kind of technology is stressful, but when it’s a small-staff association professional shopping for an association management system, it’s a particular kind of crazy. There are SO many moving parts – software features, price points, the board’s opinion, etc. No wonder shoppers tend to get frustrated.

But good news association pros! We’ve got a few tips that can make the shopping process a little less harrowing. (And note: these can all be done BEFORE contacting vendors. Score!)

1. Research ahead of time

When it comes to AMS shopping, consider Google your best friend. Start by running a basic search, exploring terms such as “association management software” and “membership management software.” Tip: Most AMS providers have a blog and/or strong social media presence in addition to their company website, so be sure to check those out for additional information.

2. Talk to friends and colleagues

Once you’ve done a little research, try reaching out to a few friends and/or colleagues who have experience with AMS providers. See what vendors they’re using, what vendors they’ve heard of, and what demos they’ve sat in on, if any.

Now it’s important to note that your needs may be a little different than theirs, and if that’s the case, that’s ok. Don’t base your entire conversation on functionality. Instead, focus on the actual practice of using an AMS and the buying process in general.

3. Read case studies and online reviews

Case studies and online reviews are DEFINITELY worth the read. In fact, if you’re looking for honest feedback, we highly recommend third-party sites, such as www.capterra.com. These sites feature user reviews – both good and bad – to help you get an accurate picture of various software providers.

4. Take advantage of free guides

Trust us, there’s a LOT of information out there. Now it’s just up to you to take advantage. To help you get started, here are a few free guides:

Happy shopping!