When preparing to integrate your organization's website with an association management system (AMS), you might feel overwhelmed by the prospect of the endeavor and not know quite where to start. This is natural, but with a little planning and due diligence you will have a successful integration and a more user-friendly experience for your members and your staff. Read on to get the skinny on how to ensure your association management system integration is a success.

1. Look for experience.

Integrations are complicated and every organization has a slightly different way of doing business from all other organizations. Whether your in-house technical team or an outside vendor is doing the integration, speak to the principals on the project and understand where their experience lies. If you're using an outside vendor, look for case studies where similar integrations were performed. You want to be sure that the project can be technically executed and that the team knows what it takes to overcome hurdles present in most integrations. 

2. Involve all stakeholders.

 Who works within your AMS? Identify the departments that have a key role in each aspect of the business touched by the association management system and interview them. Ask:

  • What are your daily interactions with the AMS?
  • What are your daily interactions with the website? 
  • How would you like the AMS and website to communicate to best achieve your goals and aid those daily interactions?

Throughout this effort, be sure to understand where the member experience comes into play. The goal should be for them to have a seamless experience with the AMS via the website. And remember: Don't just dicuss, document. Document all of the information you uncover in this process to ensure your technical team has a thorough understanding of the business processes that the technology will support.

3. Establish realistic expectations.

 It may be difficult to do this if you've never gone through an integration before, but for starters it's fair to expect that there will be some customization unless you have a completely out of the box installation of your AMS and there is a flawless API for said AMS. Ultimately, communication must be maintained throughout to keep expectations realistic from the onset and as any delays or hurdles are encountered.

4. Have a quality assurance plan.

 Ensure that someone who wasn't involved in the development of the integration is testing it to ensure that the goals identified at the onset of the project are accomplished and that the experience is as expected for internal and external users. The transition from website to AMS and back again should be seamless for your members - unless of course it was decided ahead of time that was not in the plan.

5. Track progress before and after launch.

 As stated above in #3, communication is key. You and your vendor/technical resource should be communicating up to, through, and after launch of the integration. Establish metrics for success and understand where you are in achieving them on a monthly or even weekly basis - only then will you know you have reached integration nirvana.

These points are five key considerations that will help you to prepare when integrating your association management system with your nonprofit's website. Selection of the right vendor is really key to this process as their communication throughout will ensure that there are no surprises and that the project goes as smoothly as possible. If you have any questions about integrating an AMS with Drupal or WordPress, please contact us today.


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