Evaluating Software: Where Does Your Association Stand?
Charting a path forward begins with an assessment of your current technology.
By Jake Fabbri, Chief Marketing Officer at Fonteva & Protech
Change may be a constant, but it doesn’t always come easily, especially in the association space. Unlike startups looking to innovate their way to stardom, many associations have stood proudly for 100 years or more as pillars of their industries.
While that longevity allows them to build trust, expertise, and authority, it can sometimes stifle innovation. Associations are frequently labeled as risk-averse, and some boards of directors can be resistant to change—frequently falling into the “We’ve always done it this way” trap.
In all fairness, those in the corporate space also struggle to implement technological change. In a survey of organizations released in March 2021 by Statista in cooperation with McKinsey & Company, the majority of respondents cited cultural disparities and/or skills gaps as roadblocks to technological transformation.
Furthermore, results from PwC’s 2022 Digital IQ Survey showed that only one-fifth of tech executives see eye to eye with their business peers when it comes to their primary aspirations for digital outcomes.
The good news is that many associations are growing more open to modernization, especially in the wake of the pandemic. According to Dirk Behrends, Vice President, Association Solutions, Fonteva & Protech, associations may have historically lagged behind in the tech space, but changes are on the horizon.
“We’re starting to see more influences from the for-profit sector in the association space,” Behrends said. “One of them is a shift from proprietary systems to platform-based solutions. With platform-based solutions, associations don’t have to cross their fingers and hope nothing bad happens, which is what so many have done over the years.”
Unlike legacy association management software (AMS) systems, platform technology is delivered through a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model that eliminates on-premises hosting and is fully managed by secure, trusted technology companies like Salesforce and Microsoft.
Not sure where your association stands? Simple assessments of existing technology, such as this quiz at AssociationPlatforms.com, allow associations to identify gaps between their current technology and platform-based solutions—and help convince risk-averse leadership how valuable technological change really is.
While you’re visiting AssociationPlatforms.com, be sure to take advantage of the site’s guidance on how to select and use enterprise-grade solutions built on top of world-class customer relationship management tools.
“An enterprise business solution is no longer just ‘nice to have,’” Behrends said. “Associations today face stiff competition for market influence, members, staff, and IT resources. An association platform positions the organization in the virtual world in ways that a legacy AMS software solution just can’t.”
Telltale Signs of Aging, High-Risk Systems
According to AssociationPlatforms.com, more than one-third of associations run on outdated software.
“We see a lot of pain in the association space around data silos and security, where the core systems over the years have oftentimes been proprietary, rather than platform-based solutions like what Protech (built on Microsoft) and Fonteva (built on Salesforce) are today,” Behrends said.
Other red flags that an association is running on an outdated system include high-maintenance customizations, difficult upgrade processes, and expensive licensing costs. On the flip side, associations that trade in their legacy systems for software solutions natively built on leading, enterprise-grade cloud platforms enjoy multiple benefits.
These include simplified tech stacks, increased scalability, enterprise-grade security, optimized operations, reduced costs, revenue growth, and better member engagement. Combined, these benefits provide associations with a significant competitive advantage over those with outdated systems.
“Making the switch to platform-based technology means that association technology professionals no longer have to wear so many different hats, serving as network and hosting specialists while also maintaining integrations between their ‘core’ system and tools for office productivity, among other things,” said Erin Lemons, Senior Director of Marketing at Fonteva & Protech. “Most of those pain points go away when you buy a platform solution that’s built on Microsoft Dynamics 365 or Salesforce.”
Another perk: Association software platforms last a lot longer than proprietary AMS systems. Through native application integrations and automated updates, association platforms effectively grow and adapt with an organization, offering leaders a predictable path forward and the ability to focus on what really matters: serving their membership.
Ultimately, taking time to evaluate gaps between their current technology and platform-based solutions will keep associations positioned firmly where they belong—at the forefront of their industries—for years to come.
“Platforms are the future,” Behrends said.
In early 2021, Togetherwork acquired Fonteva, a platform solution built on the robust capabilities of Salesforce. Toward the end of 2021, Togetherwork acquired Protech, an association platform solution built on Microsoft Dynamics 365. Through AssociationPlatforms.com, Fonteva and Protech educate the industry on technology that empowers associations to deliver a modern member experience.