One of the most significant changes to occur over the past couple of years in database management is the idea that the database must be more customer-friendly. Prior to Al Gore inventing the internet, when associations considered which database they might use, the only audience to consider was staff. That is, how would staff interact with the database.

Of course, all of that has changed. As a result, when considering a new association management system, associations must now consider not only how the staff interacts with the database, but how members and customers will interact with it, as well.

What this means is there is a dynamic tension between making something flexible enough for staff, while making it easy enough for online customers to use the system without needing training. In my experience, some AMS vendors do this better than others, but all of them struggle with maintaining that balance.

So when evaluating new systems, you have to be aware of this tension and be sure to evaluate the system from both a staffer’s perspective as well as the perspective of your members and customers.