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Articles > Membership Management > Navigating the waters of CRM change: 10 tips for membership associations

Navigating the waters of CRM change: 10 tips for membership associations

Adapting to new technologies is crucial for staying relevant and efficient. One of the big transitions Associations often face is the switch to a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or Association Management System (AMS) — arguably interchangeable terms! Here are 10 tips on how to prepare for a CRM or database move, and avoid unnecessary headaches:


1. Conduct a comprehensive needs assessment

Before diving into CRM options, conduct a thorough needs' assessment to understand the specific requirements of your Association. Identify pain points in your existing system, gather input from key stakeholders, and outline 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, such as Delcor, Cimatri, Ellipsis Partners, Akiri Consultants, Halmyre, Achurch Consulting can help you figure out your requirements and write this important assessment if you’re struggling to get started!

2. Create a cross-functional implementation team

Assemble a small project team that includes representatives from various departments within your Association. This team will input into the requirements process, drive the project forward, review and select a new software and then support the 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

Define clear, measurable objectives for the 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 the new CRM and track progress over time.

4. Invest in training and change management

Transitioning to a new CRM system will require some training for your co-workers. Develop a solid (and fun!) training program that addresses the needs of various user groups, with a mix of delivery methods: in-person, online, desk drops, videos, email reminders etc. Consider providing ongoing support and resources to address any challenges that may arise during and after the 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, importantly, consider if you want to delete any redundant data. Plan for your migration process to prevent data loss or any downtime, and keep a backup to refer back to through the process. Working with a CRM software (like ToucanTech) that offers dedicated data support, can be a big help!

6. Test your workflows

Ensure that 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 the CRM change process. Keep all 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 small group first

Before a full roll-out, 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 the entire Association.

9. Monitor and evaluate

After implementation, monitor the performance of the new CRM system. Ask for feedback from your co-workers and help people to use the new functionality available. Check your KPIs and think about how the system can help the Association achieve your goals.

10. Celebrate success and learn from challenges

Acknowledge and celebrate milestones and successes during the CRM change process, and view challenges as learning opportunities. Collect feedback on areas that need improvement and use this information to enhance future technology transitions.

Given the many moving parts within most Membership Associations, preparing for a CRM change will likely require some careful planning, collaboration, and adaptability, but keep an end goal in sight cc a more streamlined system with better engagement tracking can be transformational in the long run.

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