Associations Now’s Ernie Smith wrote an article about technology and associations that caught my eye: Don’t Fool Yourself: Your Technology Has An Expiration Date.
Ernie’s piece talks largely about physical hardware (like drives and discs) that breaks, fades out, or stops working. Say you store your information about previous members, old budgets, and old events on a hard drive. Basically unless you keep up with it, it’ll probably just break one day. Technology will move past it and that will be that.
That’s where cloud storage comes in. When you hand your data over to a secure cloud storage company, it becomes their problem. You can retrieve your data any time over a web-based platform, and it’s up to the storage company to keep the servers updated so that they’re secure and working properly over time. Of course you do have to pay.
But there are different technological expiration dates small staff associations have to worry about, and they don’t always have much to do with three-year warranties on hard drives. Your association’s technology “expires” when it’s not working for you anymore. I’m talking of course about AMS solutions.
Sometimes that has to do with the technology changing, which happens sometimes with regular product developments. Because every association is so different, a blanket solution is just impossible. That’s why there are so many options on the market and it takes so long to go through all the demos and find a solution that works for you.
Changes in the provider itself can cause the software to become “obsolete” to you too (remember that obsolescence doesn’t always mean the software is bad, but that it’s not working for you anymore.) Sometimes when companies restructure and grow normally the focus changes. Watch out for hiccups in customer service and care, which is something that is huge to small staff associations who regularly need training and adjustments for ever-evolving and changing leadership and membership.
Finally, it’s possible that you just outgrew your old method. Perhaps you need more functionality and you have more members than when you started. Remember that it never hurts to look, and often to demo another solution will only cost you some time.
There are a lot of ways for technology to break, and when it comes to membership management software, often it’s simply a matter of growth and change. Maybe it’s time to start thinking about a new AMS?