What is an AMS System? A Comprehensive Guide to Association Management Software Solutions

5 min read

When you run an association in the Salesforce ecosystem, you might feel overwhelmed with the number of tasks. One day, you manage event registration manually and control your member database; the other, you set up a third-party content management system where all your content is stored. Sounds rather disturbing.

While numerous activities in your association are a sign of a thriving business, having them organized, streamlined, and interconnected would be even more rewarding. At the end of the day, no one has canceled Murphy’s Law: if something can go wrong, it will. However, you can play a sneaky trick on that law with an AMS.

With decent association management software (AMS), you can take an axe to such mayhem in your processes. What is AMS? We can’t wait any longer to explain the concept! Keep reading the article to uncover the AMS details, its benefits, and main features.

What is an AMS?

AMS is an association management system that helps you store, process, and manage everything connected to members in your organization. Simply put, an AMS system streamlines and puts together such routines (often disconnected) as event planning, member financial management, email marketing automation, and other business processes.

Association management software has one primary objective which is to unite the information under one roof. Thus, you don’t have to jump between the tabs or set up third-party solutions – everything you need is at your fingertips when it comes to full-fledged membership management.

By the way, I bet the following thought has already crossed your mind: aren’t membership management software and AMS the same? Amazingly enough, these two notions shouldn’t be mixed up. The former is a wider concept, representing members’ organizations, nonprofits, and others. The latter is relevant to associations and deals with automated membership renewals, online payments or donations, multi-tiered membership programs, and personalized member experience.

How do you choose a system that meets your association’s requirements? There are no secrets there.


Elevating Member Satisfaction and Engagement with Salesforce & AC

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The Benefits of an Association Management Software

Sure thing, every association management solution varies. However, the advantages you get once adopt it are all-embracing! As you step into the path of choosing the right software for your association, let’s see what benefits you get along:

1. Outstanding Member Experience

It’s no surprise that an AMS system can ease up the lives of your team. But your members will feel that too! I’ll give you a vivid use case.

For instance, your member receives an email to renew their membership. You set it up automatically with the help of your AMS software system. Thus, the member clicks the link in that email and gets transferred to a payment system, all secured and from the comfort of their home.

This is a win-win scenario! You or your staff don’t have to manually write a message to members and ask them to renew. Members, in their turn, don’t reach out via chat/phone to you – the system does all the hard work.

But that’s only the tip of it. The rule of thumb is that associations host numerous events and conferences on a regular basis. With the right association management software, your members can register without further help by visiting a proper event page (that you have seamlessly developed with an integrated AMS system). If done wisely, the system lets users specify all the necessary details, choose a payment/subscription type, select sessions, etc.

2. Your Team’s Efficiency and Comfort

Any self-respecting company would agree: the less time a team spends on trivial, mechanical tasks, the better. This goes for everything from managing a member database to automating repetitive tasks (generating reports, creating and sending invoices or event reminders, etc.).

Plus, you can use a membership base segmentation. If your AMS system supports it, you can categorize your members based on various criteria, engagement levels, types of membership, and other association-specific data. This step positively impacts marketing and sales activities, contributes to targeted communication, and allows you to deliver relevant to your members information.

3. Increased Network Opportunities

What is an AMS system without networking opportunities in place? It’s just a piece of software. However, you’ll hardly find AMS systems like that. Almost every modern technology is equipped with features like email marketing, online community support, public or private group creation, etc.

If your association management software is powered by Salesforce, the odds are you’ll have a built-in Chatter functionality for internal use. For Experience Cloud users, there’s an option of creating public, private, and unlisted groups, or groups with customers. This way, members (and site visitors with special permissions) can create them while browsing your online community.

Furthermore, association management software often provides job boards – another valuable networking opportunity for your members. Thanks to job boards, users can connect on open positions, volunteering activities, and other professional efforts. They just browse a job board, see the postings available, attach their CV or resume, and reach out to the specialist on their own. Look at the job board provided by the AC MemberSmart solution, especially for Salesforce Experience Cloud:

wma_job board

4. Detailed Member Directory

Association should definitely has a place where all your members are kept in order. And the best way to achieve that is to build a detailed membership directory.

In fact, many AMS systems provide this functionality so you can’t give a miss to that. A directory is practically a list of all the members in your association with their contact details, occupation, main interests, and photos. Such a detailed approach to showing who your members are can save others the trouble of searching for a subject-matter expert or a peer. Let’s see how a membership directory can look like on an Experience Cloud site (courtesy of the AC MemberSmart solution):


Membership Directory: Complete Guide

Member directory is an excellent way to ensure networking across your organization. Do you have one? We explain how to build one!
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5. More Profound Data Usage and Migration

Association management software is wired to store heaps of data. What if you decide to migrate all your association’s data from an outdated database to, say, Salesforce? Are you afraid something might be lost in the process? Do not hit the panic button just yet.

Even though Salesforce Data Migration might seem like a complicated and tiresome routine, it can be done easily. But only under one condition: if you opt for a decent AMS system that supports flawless migration. This way, you can rest assured all your association’s data and the ones from your members is transferred seamlessly, keeping all the value.

Is there a piece of software that could fill the bill? There totally is! For instance, Advanced Communities can become your ally in:

  • Salesforce to Salesforce migration – armed with a wealth of experience in data migration, we help you do the task and migrate records, objects, and customizations from one Salesforce environment to another.
  • Data transfer from legacy systems – we also help you import such data as contacts, reputation points, Chatter feeds, images, and other important stuff from an outdated database to your new shiny Salesforce system.
  • Large-volume data import – data integrity will be upheld! Since our AMS system is designed in a way that makes importing extensive data sets a snap, a migration process will run as smoothly as possible.

What Features Should a Perfect AMS System Include?

If you are using Salesforce as a potent CRM platform and want to reinvigorate it with an association management system, there is one major feature not to overlook. Your AMS should be 100% native to Salesforce, ensuring the flexibility for you to grow, member communication automation, and room for technical upgrades.

As for the other equally important features an ideal AMS system should comprise, there are:

1. Smooth Membership Management

Providing a seamless membership process is in the association management software’s DNA. It means that your AMS system should let potential and existing association members feel independent.

Thus, they should be able to update their information on an online member portal (name, title, current contact details, social media accounts, certifications, etc.). This AMS functionality adds to member self-service & sufficiency and saves time for your staff.

Besides, your members should have the opportunity to update their payment details or other financial data and take care of their membership dues. If your AMS allows, this would burden your team off significantly. Another alternative would be automated membership renewals so that none of you would care much about the numbers and dates – the system does the job.

While traditional AMS systems might be hard-to-digest, Advanced Communities has a cost-effective, easier, and modern solution under its belt and involving all the features discussed above. The name is AC MemberSmart – the solution that will make membership management run like a Swiss watch. You should give it a try!

AC MemberSmart

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2. Easy Event Management and Registration

While membership management is key, event planning is an indispensable part of any AMS system. Given that an association may host a variety of events – online, local, recurring, Zoom webinars, and others – its features should entail management and registration for events, too.

What is AMS software without events? The software of your choice should let you:

  • Create events in simple steps – the right platform comes with the right functionality. Here is a great example of event planning and creation from Advanced Communities. Thanks to the user-friendly and intuitive Event Creation Wizard for internal managers, your team can follow the process step-by-step, specifying all the details for the meeting (event type, location, event zone, speakers info, agenda, etc.), without jumping between the tabs.
event wizard ac events

  • Post-event analytics – look for the software that would gather and present you with in-depth numbers on each event. How many event attendees and registrants are there? How many early-bird tickets were purchased? What are the most popular events in your association? These and other analytics will drive member engagement, identify gaps in your strategy, and provide useful insights into event activities. Event landing pages – if your association is powered by Salesforce and the AMS system allows, you can build dedicated event landing pages on Experience Cloud for each event. Thus, members will navigate through them and be able to register with ease. Plus, they can filter events within your association to choose the most relevant one, see the current calendar, or even create their own event (if they have special permissions).

AC Events Enterprise

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3. Robust Reporting and Analytics Features

Everyone strives to be a data-driven association. But some don’t even know how to achieve it. Not to mention realizing that a consistent AMS system should be this way. That is why look for the software that provides you with a 360-degree view for all your membership, event, and the overall asssociation activities.

However, mere visualization of data might not be enough. Your membership management software should let you develop customizable and pre-built reports, including the data from the past. My recommendation is to opt for an AMS platform that could generate AND depict at least:

  • Event registration insights (preferably real-time) so that you can monitor the success for each event.
  • Membership changes (preferably real-time) to take action if need be and accelerate member engagement, rethink a renewal flow, or find another ways to invite new members.
  • Financial data to keep your finger on the pulse for sales.

4. Well-Run Financial Management

…thanks to automation! Let me elaborate on this one.

You may have already noticed that powerful automation, especially in financials, runs like a golden thread across this entire article. Not for a reason!

As I mentioned earlier, associations usually deal with financial operations and sometimes it might go awry. No last fee from a member, incorrect renewal data stated, heaps of Excel sheets with fiscal numbers, no invoices at all. These and other mishaps can be overridden with automation.

If done smartly, automation can streamline financial aspect of your association management. You can set up automatic invoice issuing, send email follow-ups on membership renewals, create billing reminders, track payments, and shape financial reports, to name just a few.

Besides, how many human errors you may omit with automation in your finances. It boost accuracy in your team, leaving more space for other administrative tasks.

How to Increase Membership Engagement in Salesforce: 12 Winning Ideas

Membership engagement is what organizations in Salesforce put a premium on. How to boost it? We spill the beans in this article.
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What AMS Does Contain All Those Functionalities?

You will be surprised by the number of options available! All of them come with their standout features. However, you should bear in mind that everything depends on your association’s strategic goals and opportunities. Jumping at the occasion, Advanced Communities – a certified Salesforce consulting company and an app developer – might feel like a nice solution.

For associations using Salesforce, Advanced Communities provides a robust toolkit for member and event management, reporting, payment and donations support, and convenient online payment processing.

Being a Salesforce-native association management software, Advanced Communities also has the AppExchange page where you can pick an accelerator for your associations growth and expanded abilities.

Bottom Line

What is an AMS? That’s settled! To recap, this is a convenient system for managing your association and its members effectively. Before you go, comb through these bonus pieces of advice when you search for your ideal AMS: evaluate your needs first – splurge on the software later, choose responsive and modern design, think about automation (especially for your financial efforts and repetitive tasks), and do not forget about data security (cloud solutions are your safest bet).

I know that’s a lot to take in. But should you look for steady management software that could lift your association’s game and personalize user experience, Advanced Communities has got you covered. Drop us a line whenever you need a crash course on AMS specifications and implementation.

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    1. What does AMS stand for in IT?

    AMS stands for association management software in IT that lets you run your organization successfully. Thanks to a wide-ranging toolkit, the software helps you keep and manage all the member data in your association in the same place. This way, event planning, managing members, administrative tasks, and other business processes will happen under the same umbrella.

    2. What is the difference between an AMS and a CRM?

    The difference between an AMS (association management software) and a CRM (customer relationship management) is in their primary functions. Well-developed association management software helps you run your organization without chaos and perform day-to-day tasks such as member applications, event registration, automated renewals, and other communication activities. A CRM, for that matter, aims at improving relationships between customers and a business, constantly boosting engagement levels.

    3. What is an example of an AMS system?

    A striking example of an AMS system is the one from Advanced Communities. We are a renowned Salesforce agency and an app provider, helping you get started with Salesforce and everything it entails. Our hallmark solution AC MemberSmart is a perfect AMS. Among its features, you’ll find event management, advanced member directories, job boards, payment & donation management, and a lot more.

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