5 steps to gain board approval for new budget for your association

Your association is growing. It’s time to look at new membership management software to support your changing needs.

Here are some helpful tips on how to convince your board it’s time for new technology.

As your association grows, your needs evolve. Meanwhile, advances in technology don’t stand still for your association, no matter how tight your budget may be.

Failing to keep up with association technology and membership trends, can cause your organization to fall behind. In fact, it can cost you more in lost time and money than making the move to new technology.

But not everyone at your organization understands the challenges with your existing association management software (AMS), much less envisions the value a new solution could bring. So, you must persuade your organization with a compelling case to consider new software.

Identifying your organization’s biggest tech challenges and needs will help you better outline options to your board for their review and approval. Based on a clear understanding of these options, you can present recommendations that your board is more likely to approve.

How to build a business case for new association technology

Here are five tips for making your case in a way that will get you the new membership management software your association needs:

1. List the challenges.

Itemize the ways your current system is holding your organization back. Challenges often take the form of inefficiencies. They generally can be found in three areas: member services, time and effort, and technical:

  • Poor member services – If there are areas in which you aren’t serving your members as well as you could due to limitations in your membership software, your members are at risk of finding an organization that will better serve them. Create a list of things your members have asked for. Then, determine what effort it would take to fulfill them with your current system – or if it’s even possible.
  • Unnecessary time and effort – If corrected, this type of inefficiency can have a huge impact on the productivity of your organization. One way to surface these issues is to talk with each department about where they spend most of their time. For example, some staffers might have to work in multiple systems to complete their daily tasks. Or they may be doing a ton of manual data entry because they have no way to automate day-to-day processes. Record these inefficiencies. Repeat this approach for every department. You’ll come away with a list of opportunities to streamline processes throughout your organization.
  • Technical issues – The role of IT in organization management is to build and maintain your systems, not work in them every day. Are your coworkers overwhelming your IT team with tickets because of glitches in your current software? Do your coworkers have difficulty completing certain tasks without assistance from IT? Is the data in your system inaccurate or difficult to attain? Collect feedback from stakeholders in the IT department, and point out these inefficiencies.

TIP: Having to work in multiple systems to complete their daily tasks can create big inefficiencies for your staff members. NetForum Cloud by Community Brands features more than 30 modules to help your team members create efficiencies and better manage everything from members, chapters, and credentialing to fundraising and events – in one system.

 2. Define functional requirements in terms of team efficiency.

By listing the challenges and limitations of your current membership software and talking with other departments about their needs, you should have a solid list of the features you’ll need. Take some time to add context as to why those features are necessary. Here are a few ideas of how to do this:

  • Task – For each feature, assign which task it will help complete. Add details about how the task is currently being completed.
  • Department – State which department owns the task.
  • Resources – Does the current workflow require the task owner to reach out to another department? Note that here.
  • Time – Estimate the current time and effort to complete the task versus how long it will take with the new system.
  • Benefit to members – List the benefits your membership will receive.

By adding context to your wish list of features for a new AMS, you can prioritize your needs. If increasing efficiency is your strongest argument for upgrading, start with those features. If your executive team is more concerned with member satisfaction, start there.

3. Do the product research.

Your executive team and board of directors need to know you’ve investigated multiple software vendors based on your specific needs. Here’s how to research software options in a way that you can present to your management team:

  • List your functional and technical needs based on the business challenges you’ve identified.
  • For each need, ask the software vendor about how their product can help you with that need.
  • For each response, rate how effectively you believe each product solves that need.
  • List the costs associated with each software vendor. And, don’t forget about maintenance and upgrades.
  • Include this information as part of the presentation to your executive team and board of directors.

 4. Explain the life expectancy of your current solution.

Point out the following aspects concerning the life expectancy of your current member management software:

  • Members – Have any members threatened to leave if you don’t fix certain issues or offer particular services? For all members who have voiced a concern, point out the others who have possibly had the same issue but remained silent as they shopped around for another organization to join.
  • Cost – Quantify how much it’s costing you to keep your current system in working order, beyond standard license or subscription costs, to demonstrate how long you can afford to keep it. Also, if the cost to keep your system going for a few months is greater than the cost of a new system, you have a good reason to upgrade.
  • Technology – If your system relies heavily on a technology that is being discontinued, bring this up. Your executive team and board of directors don’t necessarily keep up on technology trends, and they need to be informed.

 5. Be prepared for the cost barrier.

Remember that there will be an up-front cost to upgrading your membership software. And cost is most often a big cause for pushback from the executive team and board of directors.

The good news is that you’ve laid the groundwork to focus the discussion on value. You already know how a new system will make your organization more efficient. Plus, you can point out ways in which you’ll be better serving your members.

But still, you might hear phrases like “this isn’t in the budget” or “this isn’t the right time”. Get past this argument with your research and efficiency calculations to create the most compelling case for new software.

Learn more

Building the business case for a technology change requires a review of the goals and challenges of your organization as well as the potential benefits a new association solution can have for your organization. Discover more tips on how to convince your board that it’s time for new software: Read the guide, Gaining Board Approval for New Association Technology Budget.  

Discover more tips on how to convince your board that it’s time for new software.

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