If you're sending more than five RFPs, you're doing it wrong.

I once heard of an association who had worked with a consultant on selecting a new AMS. The consultant had the association staff sit through a week’s worth of demos from 10 different vendors. TEN vendors! That’s malpractice. There are never going to be ten different vendors that your association would have to so seriously consider that you would need to sit through ten different demos to make a choice.

If you’re searching for a new AMS, and you have more than five vendors on your list to send the RFP, you haven’t done all your homework. In almost all cases, five vendors should be plenty to consider for any association. Yes, the list of AMS vendors is long. But not all vendors are meant for all associations. Some vendors focus solely on small associations, while others focus on very large associations. A simple phone call to each vendor will help you determine that.

However long your list of potential vendors is, before you send the RFP, you should have a phone conversation with each vendor to determine  a potential fit. Most vendors will be very honest with you if you tell them your association size, functional needs, and budget. Vendors don’t want to waste time completing an RFP if they can’t meet your functional or budget needs, and you shouldn’t waste your time reviewing RFPs and sitting through demos of products that don’t fit your needs or budget.

About Wes Trochlil

For over 30 years, Wes has worked in and with dozens of associations and membership organizations throughout the US, ranging in size from zero staff (all-volunteer) to over 700. In that time Wes has provided a range of consulting services, from general consulting on data management issues to full-scale, association-wide selection and implementation of association management systems.

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