Insights and tips for association & nonprofit professionals


Drafting Your AMS Selection Team

Who should be on your project team? It depends.

Many organizations fall into the habit of appointing the same people to every project and every phase of a project without ever evaluating the skills needed to make that project a success. Staff members who are big picture thinkers and have a general understanding how processes and technologies work together are an important asset during design meetings. That same type of person may not be the best resource when it’s time to write detailed requirements and test the core functionality of a system. That’s why it’s so important to plan ahead and choose the right people at the right phase.

When drafting your AMS selection team, it’s best to start with your “Core” teammates. The Core Team will be involved in the project from start to finish. This should include the project manager, a variety of staff that works across all departments of your organization such as finance, marketing, and IT, as well as a decision maker. The Core Team should not exceed 8-9 staff members. Ensure that this team has appropriate time to commit to the project and has the authority to make defined goals and establish selection criteria.

During the Planning and Design Phase, include the Core Team plus staff members with specific expertise regarding the following;

• A clear understanding of the organization’s mission and goals
• Knowledge of the business requirements and existing systems

Also, verify that the group includes;

• Key areas of business including marketing, finance, membership, events and IT
• A blend of leadership and operations

The Implementation Phase of the process includes the Core Team and a wider group of stakeholders. These stakeholders will contribute to specific topics and must have strong business and process knowledge. For example, the CFO may be part of the Planning and Design Process while a Data Entry Specialist or Staff Accountant will be part of the project implementation.

Another temptation that organizations face when building the team is selecting their trusted staff members who will work hard and follow the plan. While this may provide some level of comfort, it may not produce the intended outcome. Friction and discussion can be an asset to a project and ensure you don’t fall into the trap of recreating the same AMS you are trying to leave behind. If the organization has influential staff members who do not support the project fully, it may be useful to include them in the team so they have an opportunity to participate in the solution. It is also important to seek out staff members who can serve as the day to day resources; those ‘go to’ staff members who help solve problems.

Once the team is formed, they should create ground rules to determine how the team will work together. Identify systems or tools that will be used to manage the project. Decide the communication style and frequency that works best for the team. Agree on the method that will be used to document and share decisions. Identify members of the Core Team that may have any major blockers that may impact the team.

The last step of building project teams is planning for change. How will the team adjust if a Core Team member or critical stakeholder must leave the project? How will the Core Team manage team members who are not fully invested in the project? No one knows what the future holds, so do your best to be prepared for any outcome.

Now that you have your team in place, it’s time to start working!

Gretchen Steenstra is an association professional who worked for several associations before joining DelCor’s Technology Management department. She is a Strategic Consultant and assists clients with projects that range from technology leadership, selecting new association systems, project management, IT strategic planning and ongoing system audits to help ensure technology continues to support the organization’s objectives and goals. 

Don’t miss Gretchen as she speaks at this year’s AMS Fest taking place June 6-7 in Chicago, IL. This two-day event will bring you elbow-to-elbow with association executives, AMS consultants, and AMS vendors that all want to engage in discussions around nothing but AMS. AMS Fest is only $250 and gives you a curated experience of one on one time with your peers. Do NOT miss out on this beneficial, informative, and most importantly, FUN event. Register today!

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