Posted on Mar 23, 2023

One of the most important parts of managing an association or large organization is making decisions. It often feels like both an art and a science to know when it’s the right time to perform a specific action or engage in a certain activity or if you have enough information to act on in the first place so that you can ultimately reach your organizational goals. If you’ve ever felt this tension and have wondered if you’re doing the right thing at the right time with the right data and facts on hand, you’re not alone. In fact, this question of timing is something everyone experiences, regardless of the industry.

So, how do you know if your organization is ready for an association management system?

What factors should you consider to know if you’re ready for this type of solution?

Let’s explore some of the main factors to consider as you make this important decision for your organization:

1. Goals

What are your organization's goals when it comes to membership in the upcoming year? Upcoming five years? What are your goals surrounding membership engagement? Retention? Member satisfaction and maintaining your stand as an association that members derive value from? If you’re in a season of major growth, the best time to incorporate a membership management system is before you invest in larger initiatives that will compete with your time or resources. It is just as important to make a membership management system a priority than it is for any other projects.

2. Staffing

How much time is your team putting toward bootstrapping your data management, processes, communication, and member engagement? Take a good, hard look at how much time is being spent on this, and then map that total to a dollar amount based on staff’s approximate hourly rate. You might be surprised to realize that your organization is wasting valuable time doing administrative tasks instead of leaning into their personal expertise and responsibilities. When you properly employ an association management system, you actually free up a lot of your team’s time to focus on more complex tasks that move the needle for the organization.

3. Data

Do you ever wonder if you have the right data to make decisions for your organization? Do you ever wonder if you’re missing a key piece of the puzzle because your information is scattered and unorganized? If you’re asking yourself any questions like these, odds are, you’re already ready to have a more robust system in place.

4. Events

Do you have any big events happening (trade shows, conferences, etc.)? If so, have you put thought into how you will manage these events? Bootstrapping event management with different systems that don’t talk to each other only goes so far. A good association management system will allow you to gather non-dues revenue, manage attendees, and tag members accordingly in a simple, straightforward manner. A good system will also allow you to have connections in the data points to allow you insights for the future!

5. Feedback

You’ll know you need a better membership management system if you’re regularly gathering feedback from your members, leadership, and staff. Be intentional to ask about the membership experience, both in-person, but also for the virtual experience between events. If you aren’t regularly doing this, you may not even realize simple ways you could be enhancing the member experience simply by choosing a new, or better software for your association management system.

6. Budget

Budget is a factor for any organization. It is not just about the cost of a membership system but also about time-saving and opportunity costs as an association management system can bring in more efficiency and streamline manual processes. When considering a membership management system, you will need to make sure it’s a line item taken into consideration as part of your upcoming budget. Do your research and understand how the pricing for each option available to you works first when compared to existing monetary and non-financial costs. Once you have an estimate of monetary vs. time-saving costs, you can then make sure that planning for your next membership system becomes a priority.


Let’s not ignore the fact that your organization is run by smart people. For many of us, we know innately when it’s time to uplevel our member experience with a better membership management system. That said, once you have that inkling that it’s time to improve what you’re doing with your online system, it’s important to do the research to make sure this is the right move for your specific organization.

Once you decide you make the decision to improve your association management system, the next important factor is to research your options and make sure your decision will fit your organization. Take note of your top features and priorities so that you can accurately assess each of your main options. From there, you can make an educated decision that will benefit your organization for years to come. If you are thinking now might be the time to level up your association management system, don’t hesitate to take this next step.

Got questions about association management systems? Our team at MemberNova is here to help you understand your options and how to help you meet your goals. We’d love to take you on a quick tour of our own solution and show you how we can help your organization grow!