Shopping for an AMS is much like shopping for any other product or technology in some ways, but in some other ways it’s incredibly different.
Let’s look at the differences first:
- There is a significant research, demo, and shopping process. We’re talking months or years in some cases. People decide to look, start house hunting, and close on their homes in less time.
- The approval of other people is absolutely required. So many other people. This often plays to the shopping time-frame game, as the finer points must be discussed and debated, weighed and analyzed. Then revisited.
- There may be a big learning curve in the beginning. The range of products isn’t like buying a pair of shoes: you can’t just start with your size and then decide on style and color. You have to learn what the features are, what you need, and what you REALLY need (despite what people may be telling you that you need... at an extra cost of course.)
- Rather than a one-time purchase, you have to consider different payment structures, your budget, and either signing a contract or paying month-to-month, which is basically making a conscious choice every month to stick with it.
- You can’t return it. Often you’re in a contract, or even if you decide to go for a month-to-month plan you’ve already invested so much time shopping, planning, and implementing that cutting off the service after six months or a year seems like a huge waste of time and money.
There are some similarities between shopping for an AMS and shopping as you know it. Salesmen, for one, and online product descriptions definitely come to mind. But it is another well-used tool in the shopping world that I am referring to today.
Amazon.com has implemented a review system that has become so widely-used that reviews are even sometimes read for entertainment! Product reviews serve many important functions:
- They can tell you right away if the product is even functional or compliant with other technology, a practice that some salespeople may brush under the rug.
- They can tell you the nature of the company, which is important to AMS users because truthfully in technology, customer service is paramount. This is especially true for small staff association leaders who have to troubleshoot technology themselves and who often have to train others as well.
- They can tell you the true value. For many AMS users, it’s such a relief to have a service that just keeps files organized it’s worth the expense without question. For some, though, they realize they were sold a service they didn’t need or an upgrade they weren’t ready for. This is frustrating, a waste of money, and something you need to know as a budget-watching association leader yourself.
So how do you go about getting these reviews? There are sites out there that are just an internet search away, but honestly the best feedback you can get is from your friends and colleagues. ASAE Annual Meeting is coming up. That’s the perfect time to sit in some product demos if you’re shopping or linking up with other association leaders. Pick their brains! Ask THEM to walk you through how they use software.
Then you can shop with a clear head and peace of mind!
Have questions about the AMS shopping process? We’ve got you covered. Click below to download our free guide to shopping for an AMS!