Cell phones, electricity, water. All essential, or nearly essential, utilities. For associations, AMS software could be placed in the same category. AMS software often runs the majority of an association’s business tasks, and is a crucial link between the association, its employees, and their members. To keep relationships between all three groups strong, it’s vital for association employees to know how to use the AMS properly.
Unfortunately, one of AMS software’s greatest benefits – its robust toolset – can be detrimental when it comes to training. With so much functionality, learning a full AMS system can be a complicated, time-consuming process.
Turnover also raises the stakes for getting staff up to speed. What happens when your association management software expert suddenly transitions to a new role or leaves the organization? The rest of your team, or your new employee, can’t learn an entire system in a day.
You can, however, reduce disruption and training time by incorporating best practices that not only simplify the preparation and learning process, but also adapt it to your specific staff members. Here are five tips for creating the most efficient training process for your organization and its employees.
5 Tips for Faster, More Effective AMS Training
Tip #1) Consolidate Systems
Many associations have multiple technology systems, such as a membership management system, email engine, content management system, and event system. Each of these systems represents a new set of information and tools that your staff needs to learn, and each one takes time.
Consolidating your systems as much as possible, whether that’s into a single all-in-one association management system or a few platforms with excellent integrations, will help cut down on training time. There are fewer tools for employees to learn, and fewer integrations mean that all of your data will be in one place with fewer connection points. Smooth data flow, or a single system that houses all your association’s data, means that you won’t need to train employees on workarounds or manual data transfer.
Tip #2) Have a Training Plan
With most consumer apps being so simple first graders can learn them in a matter of minutes, technology training has become one of the more overlooked aspects of employee training.
Decide Who Needs to Be Trained
Being organized and proactive can drastically cut down on the time you and your staff spend in technology lectures, and improve efficiency. Your plan should start with a comprehensive list of who needs to be trained on the software and who doesn’t. For example, if an employee will never log in to your AMS platform or doesn’t need access to the reports to do their job, they don’t need to be trained.
Evaluate Your Resources
Once you know who has to be trained, look into what your AMS provider will cover, and what should be done in house. Leverage all of the resources that your membership management software provider offers. There may be some hidden gems – like weekly webinars, a customer community, and pre-written tutorials. After all, their success is dependent on your success and your ability to use their platform.
Include Your Employees
Your employees can also be considered resources, so ask for their feedback before training begins. What do your employees think they need to know about the AMS platform? What are their burning questions? Incorporating your employees’ needs into your first training sessions will help you avoid having to retrain and answer questions later.
Finally, ask your employees how they like to learn. Are they visual, do they like the written word, or do they need to perform actions to learn? This will help ensure that your training is delivered in the most effective method, and may reduce retraining needs.
Bonus Tip: Plan to document training. You can do this yourself or rely on your AMS provider’s training information, but make sure your staff has documented information to refer to from the very beginning.
Tip #3) Avoid Using Fake Data and Complex Examples
It’s tempting to use fake data to showcase the exact situation you have in mind, but try to resist. Examples built on imaginary information with abstract people named Suzie Q are just more things that staff has to keep track of. Whenever possible, use real data for your examples, and show your team how to perform tasks using actual member information.
Let real data guide you in the types of examples you choose as well. That means not making examples too complicated, and teaching for the rule. The rule includes all of the most common tasks that staff will have to perform in your AMS software, not the exceptions. Your staff is more likely to remember tasks that they will perform every day.
You can deal with complicated exceptions when they come up, or write out a guide that staff can refer to later. Chances are, even if you taught the exception to begin with, your staff would still forget a few steps and need to refer to a guide.
Demonstrate your examples once or twice, then bring your employees into the mix. Have them do the work while you guide them. This makes training more interactive and engaging, and caters to employees who learn by doing instead of hearing or seeing.
Tip #4) Incorporate Mentor Programs
You need to kick off AMS system training, but that doesn’t mean you need to do it all. Train the staff members that use the system the most, then create mentor programs that empower those staff members to train others in their department, including volunteers.
Programs that our clients use include webinar training, brown bag lunches, and special sessions at their conferences.
Mentor training programs can incorporate cross-training as well, which will help your association function smoothly when staff are out sick, take a vacation, or when there are turnover concerns.
The goal behind your mentor program is not only to reduce training time, but also to improve work efficiency across your association. Encourage your employees to notice and track action on knowledge gaps between team members. More experienced staff should feel comfortable taking the time to teach others best practices, and cross-train employees in other areas to ensure full competency on your system.
Tips #5) Take Advantage of Ongoing Training from Your AMS Provider
The best membership management software providers will have ongoing training sessions every week or every month that you and your employees can easily access online. These sessions will help keep you up to date on changes, new releases, and may help you learn about functionality that you weren’t aware of.
While you will have to put in time to attend training sessions, the return far outweighs the time investment. You won’t have to create any training material, and by furthering your staff’s knowledge on the system they’ll become more efficient in their daily tasks.
If difficult questions come up, either in these sessions or your in-house training, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your provider has in-depth knowledge of your AMS system, and should be available to provide you with the support you need.
Association Management Software (AMS) Training Takeaway
The best way to train your employees on your AMS software in less time is to simplify and adapt the training to the employees themselves, as well as your specific AMS solution.
You can reduce your preparation needs by taking advantage of your AMS provider’s documentation and ongoing training. Be sure to create training that’s simple, and takes care of the majority of your association’s daily tasks before tackling exceptions as well. Then, format that material in the way that works best for your employees – be that written, visual, or action-based – to ensure that your staff retains the material.
The result of your efforts will be a competent staff with more time to devote to your association and its members.