Your association makes a huge difference in the lives of the people you serve, and the association management software you use is the oil that keeps your day-to-day work and event coordination running smoothly.
Knowing the importance of your conference to your mission, you want to ensure that any event technology features and upgrades you implement will improve your events and better serve your members.
Thinking about integrating technology can be intimidating but taking it a step at a time can make it much easier. So, what does an integration mean for you? In general, you can expect that you will be connecting the two systems with an API (application programming interface), which will allow two or more systems to communicate with one another. You will need to start by verifying that your AMS has an API with read/write capabilities (a requirement for integration).
Once you have clarified your goals for the integration, here are some best practices that will help ensure the process goes smoothly:
- Identify gaps and select vendors. You may have considered the option of integrating your AMS with an all-in-one-event solution, but you discovered that there quite a bit of overlap in what the two systems can do—and you're paying a pretty penny for that overlap. The most important thing to do first, is identify where the overlap exists and what the gaps are. Your best bet is to use your AMS as much as possible and fill in the gaps in the most seamless way possible. A common gap is a way to efficiently manage your event content and speakers. This means your best option would be integrating one or two best-in-breed solutions, like Hubb, to address the gap.
- Select an integration partner. After you’ve selected which technology solutions you would like to integrate with your AMS and verified your read/write API, the next step is to identify an integration partner. Hubb works with several trusted companies to help our customers, including Catalyst Fire, benel Solutions, ISG Solutions, Gravitate Solutions and fusionSpan. All of these companies are experts at creating seamless experiences for your staff members and end users. For example, though you may be using multiple platforms, they can set up single access sign-in, so end users (your staff and members) only have to remember one username and password.
- Get buy-in from appropriate stakeholders. If everyone is excited about the AMS integration project and understands the value it will bring for users and members, they are sure to be more open-minded and flexible about the project, especially if you hit a few unanticipated roadblocks or delays.
- Identify a project manager or sponsor. Connecting two or more software systems may affect more than one team in your organization, which means cross-departmental collaboration will be required. A project manager will be the one who understands who needs to be at the table for specific conversations, and he or she can also serve as the point-person for any vendors you are working with. This person will also be the one to document and report on progress to stakeholders.
- Establish what your requirements will be for the integration. Do you need a single sign-in? Figure out what data points you want to sync between the two systems. How frequently will those syncs occur? Also, if applicable, what kind of historical data will need to be pulled from any old systems into the new system, and how will that data import happen? Looking back at your primary goals for the integration project may help you identify what data needs to transfer and when.
- Create a detailed Scope of Work. Once you have defined your requirements, set up discovery calls between your vendors and your internal technical team to identify the steps and timeline for the integration project. This is the time to involve any other vendors you’re working with in the conversation. That could be your website or ecommerce platform, or anything else that is connected to your association management system. You want to make sure you have the right technical expertise to execute the project, especially someone who can anticipate any hurdles that may throw your project off track. Vendors may have case studies from other customers who had similar needs that might help you shape your project plan.
- Make sure you have adequate internal bandwidth. Unfortunately, connecting two databases isn’t always as easy as flipping a switch. It’s important to evaluate if you have the resources to make the connection is a success. This includes not only the implementation process, but also any training required for team members who will use the integrated systems. The whole idea is that connecting the systems is meant to streamline your workload, not cause more frustration than when you were working with two disparate systems and manually migrating data (or not migrating data at all). If you have a clear scope of work and are able to offer conservative estimates of how much time and people power the project will require, that will go a long way toward the success of your integration.
And that’s it! We know with proper planning and the right partners, your AMS integration will be a success. To help you through the process, we have created a handy integration checklist.