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Articles > Membership Management > 10 tips for navigating your association’s CRM switch

10 tips for navigating your association’s CRM switch

Adapting to new technologies is crucial for staying relevant and efficient, and one big transition that associations face is the switch to a new customer relationship management (CRM) or association management system (AMS).


Luckily, we have some tips to help you navigate a CRM or AMS switch to avoid unnecessary headaches:


1. Conduct a comprehensive needs assessment


Before diving into CRM options, conduct a thorough needs' assessment to understand the requirements of your association. This includes:

  • Identifying pain points in your existing system;
  • Gathering input from key stakeholders;
  • Outlining the functionalities crucial for your operations

This assessment will serve as a roadmap for selecting a CRM that aligns with your unique needs. Several specialist consultancy firms, including Delcor, Cimatri, Ellipsis Partners, Akiri Consultants, Halmyre and Achurch Consulting, can help if you’re struggling to get started.


2. Create a cross-functional implementation team


Assembling a small project team that includes representatives from various departments within your association is an important step. This team will input into the requirements process, review and select a new software and support on implementation. By involving individuals with diverse perspectives and expertise, you can address the concerns of different departments and ensure a more comprehensive approach to the CRM change.


3 Establish clear objectives and metrics


Next, define clear, measurable objectives for your CRM change. Whether it’s improving member engagement, streamlining communication, or enhancing data management, having specific goals will guide the implementation process. Identify key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of your new CRM to track progress over time.


4. Invest in training and change management


Transitioning to a new CRM system might require some training for your team. You should think about developing a solid (and fun!) training program that addresses the needs of various user groups, with a mix of delivery methods. Also consider providing ongoing support and resources to address any challenges faced during and after implementation.


5. Clean up your data


Before migrating data to the new CRM, it's worth doing a clean-up of existing data. Remove duplicates and outdated info and consider deleting any redundant data. Plan for your migration process to prevent data loss or any downtime, and keep a backup to refer back to if needed. Working with a CRM software like ToucanTech that offers dedicated data support, can be a big help.


6. Test your workflows


Ensure you can manage your day-to-day processes in your new CRM — such as typical database queries, email segments, events ticketing, chapter communications and website content. 


7. Communicate clearly


Open and transparent communication is key throughout your CRM change process. Keep stakeholders informed about the reasons for the change, the benefits it will bring, and the timeline for implementation. Address concerns and feedback proactively to maintain a positive and collaborative atmosphere.


8. Launch with a small group first


Before a full roll-out, you may want to run pilot testing with a small group of users. This allows you to gather feedback and make necessary adjustments before rolling out the new CRM to everyone.


9. Monitor and evaluate


After implementation, monitor the performance of your new CRM system. Ask for feedback and help people learn to use the new functionality available. Check your KPIs and think about how the system can help your association achieve its goals.


10. Celebrate success and learn from challenges


Celebrate milestones and successes, and don't forge to view challenges as important learning opportunities.


Given the many moving parts within most membership associations, preparing for a CRM change often requires careful planning, collaboration, and adaptability. 

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