Wednesday, February 8, 2023


Associations are often compelled to kick the can down the road when it comes to software upgrades, in part because of the cost of digesting and implementing a new approach.

But it’s important to consider what your organization needs—and what it doesn’t—in the long run. Doing so requires research, but the time to start is now.

The tools below are not things you can just swap out like a smartphone app. Once you’ve committed to a piece of software, it takes time to switch over, so expect some tough discussions before you move forward.

But with that in mind, here are a few tools that might require reconsideration in 2023.

Expense Report Software

Expense reports are something of a necessary evil. Organizations have to track and reimburse expenses—but if you have a system that is difficult to manage or that requires a lot of manual input, you’ll probably find that there’s a backlog in employees actually completing their expense reports.

Software engineers have recognized this duality and have developed solutions that enable employees to track expenses with a smartphone. This turns the drudgery of expense reports into something people can naturally do in the process of their work, rather than something they have to save receipts for and remember to do later.

Tools such as Certify and Expensify have helped put a sheen on the process that can make it feel a little less frustrating—and that can help avoid a backlog.

Content Management Systems

Some organizations can get away with using a simple WordPress site to maintain their online presence. But content management is often more complicated for associations, which may have decades of material to maintain and share. Any decision about content is bound to be complex.

That may be why you should rethink your content management system (CMS) strategy. Association content has more places to live today—in apps, on different social networks, and in increasingly complex digital formats. If your CMS can’t keep up, it might be holding back your ambitions.

In recent years, new types of content management platforms have become less centralized and more reliant on application programming interfaces, or APIs, to deliver content where it’s needed. Headless CMS platforms, which have been emerging for a while, have been key to this trend. So too have software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms that can offer an easy-to-use interface for employees who have to actually manage the content.

If you don’t think you can shift away from a legacy CMS, see if your existing system offers a headless mode (Drupal has one, for example), which can allow for some of these newer use cases while granting some content portability beyond what, say, RSS can offer.

Association Management Systems

Just as with CMS platforms, the AMS has seen a lot of shifts in recent years, many of which have been shaped by the cloud and the rise of SaaS-based solutions.

SaaS has brought about more user-friendly AMS experiences—which might invite a sigh of relief for less tech-oriented employees who have to use such systems. With that in mind, any AMS technology that associations bring in needs to consider both the front end and the back end, because ease of use matters.

A crucial feature to look for with modern AMS platforms is easy integration with other services. One of the most important tools that allows for this, and an emerging trend in the association sector in recent years, is integration platform as a service (iPaaS), which can integrate AMS tools and other similar types of technology, making it possible to use best-of-breed tools while still maintaining your existing AMS.

The growth of iPaaS as an important tool in associations speaks to the role of data portability in AMS solutions. If your solution treats itself as an island, it could be holding you back from potential productivity gains.

Finally, it’s worth keeping in mind the wide array of mergers and business deals in the AMS sector, which can have effects on service or use cases. The owner of Community Brands, a large player in the AMS space, has recently explored a sale of that company, which could create some disruption if it happens. Be mindful of the relationships you have with your AMS partners so you’re not lost in the mix.

(NiroDesign/iStock/Getty Images Plus)



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