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New to Association Technology
Technology changes every day, so technology specialists have to invest a lot of time and energy to keep on top of those changes. If you’re a technology expert who’s working for an association for the first time, you may find the following snapshot of some of the top tech issues in the sector to be helpful.

1. Know your association management system software. Association management systems (AMS) are the technical backbone of many associations’ operations. AMSs are organizational databases, although they can offer customer relationship management, e-commerce, and more.

Some AMS systems are off-the-shelf (typically with some customization for the individual organization), while others are built in-house by the association in question.

For more on association management systems, read “10 Lessons for Successful AMS Implementation,” “Association Management System Contracts: A Legal Checklist,” “7 Core Principles of Data Management,” and ASAE’s collection of sample requests for proposals for AMS systems (all resources listed here are available to ASAE members only).

2. Associations are actively exploring the possibilities offered by social-media tools. As a technology specialist, you’ll certainly be asked about social media at some point, and you may eventually be part of developing a social-media platform for your association or integrating an outside platform with your association’s back-end systems. (Or you may even have been hired as a full-time social-media staffer, a position that’s appearing in more and more associations.)

For more information, read “11 Success Factors for Creating an Online Community” (ASAE members only), “Social Media and the Law” (ASAE members only), “True Tales of Association Social Media Managers,” and “10 Tips to Pick Your Best Social Networking Platform.”

3. There’s no single “best practice” with web staffing in associations. Some associations staff their website within the communications or marketing department; some consider the web part of the IT department; and some have created a standalone web department. Other associations consider the web crossfunctional and have developed a team of staff from multiple departments to lead online efforts.

For more information, see ASAE’s collection of sample job descriptions for technology-related positions, including a number of web-related jobs.

4. Some associations outsource IT to a greater or lesser degree.Small-staff associations have to pick and choose what they will handle in-house and what can be outsourced, and technology is often considered something that can be handled out of house. But larger associations have been known to outsource some or all of their IT functions as well, especially as software-as-a-service and cloud computing have made it easier for organizations to access technology without purchasing or supporting it directly.

For more information, read “Information Technology Outsourcing: The Managed Services Trend” (ASAE members only), “Outsourcing Voice and Data Systems” (ASAE members only), and (for information on developing an internal IT department) “Build a Mission-Friendly IT Department.”

5. Other trends include mobile and cloud computing. In addition to the issues mentioned above, association tech specialists are paying close attention to mobile technology and cloud computing and the potential impact those trends will have on their organizations.

For more information, read “Why the Future of Associating Is Mobile” (ASAE members only), “Make the Move to Mobile,” “Serve Your Mission With Mobile Technology,” “What You Need to Know About Cloud Computing,” and “Are You Safe in the Cloud?” (ASAE members only).


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