I have Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, and Netflix along with subscriptions to several premium cable channels. I watch a lot of TV, and I enjoy it.
My mother, on the other hand, thinks I’m crazy. Every time she visits she ends up toggling between systems and exclaiming at how much money I’m spending on different subscriptions that often offer the same shows. Then she gets mixed up. Was she watching her show on Hulu or Amazon? It frustrates her.
I love my multiple systems. They’re inexpensive and the extra variety I get is worth the price of my occasionally overlapping options. But I also understand my mother’s point of view. She’s an accountant who believes in not only saving money, but in keeping everything in one system so you don’t waste time flipping between options.
My mother is excellent at her work, which is why her advice is sound, especially from a business perspective. Personal video sites are one thing, but if your association is paying hundreds or thousands of dollars a month for multiple technology systems, then you could be throwing time and money away.
I’ve seen associations do this with association management software (AMS) and separate event systems. I know it’s an unintentional error, usually leftover from when you really did need a standalone event system to take care of your association’s conference, but now is the time to reevaluate.
While there may still be reasons to use both an event system and AMS software, many of today’s AMS systems have event functionality built in to them. If your AMS software has the features you need, then consolidating systems could save your association time and money.
All Association Management Software Isn’t the Same
Before you decide to ditch your event software, do some research into your AMS software’s event features. Some platforms handle only the basics of ticket sales, while others have a complete event package including multi-day conference registration options, speaker management, session approval, and room planning. Knowing your membership system is the first step in deciding whether it will meet your event planning and management needs.
Determining Your Event Software Needs
Once you know what your association management software can do, list everything you currently do with your standalone event software. Divide that list by the features and functionality that you must have and those you’re open to doing another way.
This is important because your AMS software may meet all your event management needs, but it may do it in a way you’re unfamiliar with. There will always be a learning curve with a new system and you need to make sure you’re prepared to put in the time and effort to learn the new tools.
Once you have that list of things you are and aren’t flexible on, work with your AMS system’s customer support team to see if the system can handle your needs “as is” or if they have suggested work arounds. Ideally, your AMS event features could do everything your event software does. In this case, switching is an easy decision. Why continue to pay for something extra you could be doing in one system?
If your membership software doesn’t handle everything you’re currently doing, you need to make a decision. Is the new system’s methods for managing events something you can work with or something you’re reluctant to change? Even if there’s some trepidation, don’t let the comfort of being used to your current event system dictate your decision. There are a few major advantages of ditching your standalone event system for that in your AMS software that may sway your decision.
6 Benefits of Using Your AMS Software’s Event Management System
If you’re paying for your event software in addition to your AMS, it’s easy to see how eliminating the standalone event platform will immediately translate to cost savings. However, software savings alone is not the only benefit you may experience.
Benefit #1) One System Means One Training
Why train your staff on two systems with two different sets of tools? It takes more time, and training typically needs to be repeated for each system as new features and functionality is rolled out. If you use one system, you cut down on training, saving time. Saving time saves money.
The less training your staff needs to sit though, the more likely they are to learn and retain information as well. With multiple training classes, there’s more competing information that employees need to commit to memory. With just one class, less information is being thrown at your employees so they’re more likely to focus on essential content and retain it later.
Benefit #2) Streamlined Customer Service
Technology has never and will never be perfect. There’s always the possibility that something will break. If something breaks when you’re using two systems connected by an integration, then you have two different customer service calls to make. The first will be to your event software vendor to determine if the problem is on their end. The second will be to your AMS software provider to determine if they can help resolve the issue.
We’ve all been in situations where each vendor’s customer support department says that the problem is with the other system. Yuck!
You waste time and effort making multiple calls. With a single system you know exactly who to call and are more likely to get your problem resolved quickly. This is especially true if you’re using a membership management software provider with an excellent support reputation. Often, these providers will supply you with a dedicated account manager who you can call or email anytime for personal assistance.
Benefit #3) Seamless Upgrades
Have you ever run an upgrade in WordPress only to find that one of your favorite plugins doesn’t work? That’s because they’re different systems. If you’re running an AMS and an integrated, standalone event platform, when one upgrades you are not guaranteed that the systems will connect and work the same way they did before.
When companies test their rollouts they are only testing their software, not how it works with others. When you use the event features in an all-in-one association management system you eliminate this issue.
Benefit #4) Reduced Data Discrepancies
Both integrated and completely disparate event systems can result in data discrepancies. When staff or members update data in one system, it may not be correctly transferred to the other, resulting in data maintenance headaches.
With a single system, all your data resides in a single location. There are no integrations that could malfunction or additional, manual data entry steps that could introduce error. You’re more likely to get the right data, whether that’s contact information or your members’ event preferences, the first time.
Benefit #5) Regular New Feature Rollouts
Most AMS vendors roll out new features multiple times a year, many of which are based on customer feedback and needs. That means it’s more likely that your event software will meet the needs of current industry trends for both events and associations.
Regular updates also mean that you may be able to request your own updates. If your current AMS is missing the event features you desire, make your vendor aware of it. You may discover they have this feature after all and you can save yourself money and headache by opting for one system. If your need aligns with that of other clients, the vendor may decide to add your request to the development schedule.
Benefit #6) Tailored Experience and Functionality
Another reason to work with your AMS vendor is that association technology companies keep the specific needs of associations in mind. Your event software, on the other hand, may focus on the needs of professional event planners, companies, or hobbyists. They might not understand the needs of membership organizations.
When you are part of the main industry someone works with, you are more likely to affect their development schedule. For instance, if your AMS vendor learns that polling has become all the rage with associations and is key to their business operations, you can be pretty sure they will be instituting that feature soon.
If, on the other hand, an event software vendor hears polls are important to associations, yet they only have two association customers, they probably won’t rush to add it to their schedule? You’ll have more influence and receive more tailored updates with your AMS software vendor.
Event Management Software Takeaway
Deciding whether you should use your association management software for events or stick with your standalone event engine is a big decision for your association. Before you make any switches, look into the cost savings and your AMS software’s ability to meet your needs. Then, consider the other benefits you could see by consolidating systems.
Since most AMS systems have an active development schedule, have conversations with your vendor about what the system can do and what it may be able to do in the future as well. If you haven’t had this sort of conversation recently, you might be surprised what your membership software can do now. It could even be the tipping point that helps you make a final decision on what software stays, and what goes.