When working on selecting and implementing a new association management system, the focus, understandably, is getting the system in place and getting it turned on (go-live). After all, we want to get that new system in place as quickly as possible so that it can help us do our jobs better.
While it’s understandable that all the attention (and budget) goes into this, long-term success for a new AMS is improved by focusing not just on the implementation phase, but also all of the post-implementation activities that you’re likely to want to engage in. Here are a few examples of the kinds of activities you’ll want to budget for after go-live:
- Training – This is number one and an absolute essential. No matter how good the initial training is, the staff will never be able to learn everything they need to know about the new system. That is because, in large part, they don’t know what they don’t know. Once the users start really using the system, in day-to-day activities, they’ll have all kinds of new questions and training needs that were never considered prior to go-live.
- Business process review – Similar to training, this one is essential after go-live. Now that staff has had some time to work in the system and get a better sense of what the system can do, they’ll have plenty of new ideas of how things can be done differently to improve efficiencies and effectiveness.
- Leveraging new functionality – As staff uses the system, they may “discover” functionality (or more likely, come to understand it better) within the new system that they’d like to take advantage of. This may require more assistance from your vendor.
- “Phase later” – This is all the stuff we weren’t able to fit into Phase 1 up to go-live. Almost invariably during the initial implementation phase we’ll discover things that we want to do, but have to do later (i.e., lower priority). We need to be sure we budget for these needs, too.
And keep in mind, you need to budget for staff time as well as money. In other words, in order to address all of these issues post-go-live, you’ve got to set aside budget but also set aside staff’s time so they can address these issues adequately.
As the old saying goes, “go-live” isn’t the end, it’s the beginning. And managing data is a journey, not a destination. Make sure you budget for it!