Any time Protech partners with association professionals to adopt new association management software (AMS), we stress the need to have a well-thought-out implementation plan combined with in-depth staff training. If you heed our advice and successfully go live with your new system, you are well on your way to reaping the full benefits of your investment: improved member engagement, retention and growth.
In the association world, the solid decisions made during implementation and the many hours of planning, work and dedication can be challenged when faced with staff member changes. The same team members who contributed their time and effort, and who mastered the system, sometimes leave the organization shortly after the implementation is complete. Suddenly, your association is at risk of floundering if there is nobody else on staff who knows how to use the AMS software to serve your members. Further, if new staff are not properly trained, they may not leverage the full benefits of the system to deliver exceptional member experiences.
Don’t put your association and your AMS investment at risk. Here are three critical measures you can take to make sure your association can continue to expertly use your AMS despite staff turnover.
1. Document Your Business Processes
When staff members work with a system long enough, business processes and step-by-step procedures become second nature. Thus, rather than being written down, processes become solely tribal knowledge. Unfortunately, this puts the knowledge in danger of getting lost between staff changes. To prevent knowledge loss, it is recommended that associations document their business processes and procedures for working with the AMS. Documentation minimizes the effort, time and confusion for new staff members to learn how to use the association management system.
Keep in mind also that processes are not static—they change over time. Therefore, associations should continuously update their business process documentation. To ensure processes are up to date, assign a task force to update it. When delegated to one employee, updates can easily fall by the wayside because that person gets busy with their other day-to-day job duties. Having a task force helps keep updates on track because the responsibility doesn’t fall to one individual.
2. Cross-train Teams
Oftentimes, each department has one person who fully understands and administers his or her department’s processes with the AMS software. For instance, one person in the finance department knows all about invoicing or one person in the membership department handles all membership renewals. Instead, associations should cross-train teams of people to make sure multiple people know the processes. When multiple team members understand the processes, they can not only help take over if one team member leaves the organization, but they can also train new staff members.
3. Turn to Your AMS Vendor for Help
Associations should look to their AMS software vendor as a strategic partner in the successful transition between staff members. Once an employee puts in his or her two-week notice, notify the AMS provider and they can help work on a transition plan, starting with the steps we’ve covered: making sure there is proper documentation for the exiting employee’s processes and that there are others on staff who understand those processes.
When the new employee comes on board, the AMS vendor can help put together a training program using the agenda from the initial training as a starting point. Your AMS vendor is a great resource to help make sure your organization and new employee know how to use the system. After all, as a strategic partner, they want you to succeed.
By following the steps listed above, associations can ensure operations continue to run smoothly after staff departures. Knowledge of the AMS is preserved among remaining staff, and new employees have proper documentation and fellow team members that are trained to help them in the transition. Thus, the organization can continue to take full advantage of the association management system and deliver outstanding member service.
About Mary Ann Roberts
Mary Ann Roberts is a principle consultant at Protech Associates, Inc. In this role, she serves as consultant, trainer and implementer for customers’ association management solutions.