The Association Management Software (AMS) Industry is Shrinking

August 27, 2013 by Crescerance

In the past twelve months more than 4000 associations have been affected by software provider mergers. In the early part of this year, Affiniscape out of Austin, TX merged with YourMembership, located in Florida, which has become the managing force for this combined entity. Then recently, AVECTRA, based in McLean, VA was acquired by Abila (formerly Sage Non-Profit Solutions) out of Austin, TX.

When software companies merge, the results can be challenging. In the case of software application providers merging, each company brings to the table their own proprietary solution to the issue of managing membership, events, and invoicing. Each party already has a good enough solution because they each have long term customers. What the customers want is to hopefully get the best from each company combined under one AMS platform, because in all likelihood, each platform has some features that the other would like to have. What the new company wants is to not have to support two platforms as they move forward.

But the reality is always different. Having been involved in software application mergers in the 1990’s, the idea of having a “best of breed” result is not always achievable. The two systems may be built on different software platforms, or the database structures may be so different that re-tooling applications to work on both platforms may be an unprofitable effort. What is likely to happen with software mergers is that the new company runs both platforms for a period of time. They use the time to asses which platform should be carried forward. Then they develop plans for transitioning one set of customers from one platform to the other. This means moving membership data and history data, new training and more important, convincing the customer that the results will be better than what they had. For existing customers of the chosen platform, this is always good news. For the existing customers of the un-chosen system, this means training and new approaches. Sometimes it is better and sometimes it is not.

During these software company mergers is a good time to ask your organization if you are getting all you need from your AMS. Evaluate what has changed in your organization since you acquired your AMS tools. Have your registration needs become a bit more robust so that maybe you need to look at something that fits your needs better. Has your organization become more involved in state politics and maybe you need advocacy tools or legislation tracking software? Do you manage a PAC and want that to be part of your membership system as well? Do you need to enable members to login and pay invoices online?

AMS technology has gone well beyond the scope of member contact information and signing up for events. There are more applications that can be integrated with your AMS such as exhibitor booth space reservations, seating charts for events, grassroots tools tied in with event registrations to encourage legislators to attend your events, various forms of invoicing, advocacy, PAC Management, professional development hours management and more. If you are being affected by the changes from these mergers, it might be a good time to re-evaluate and see if you can get more “bang for your buck” for your organization by looking beyond what you know, towards other AMS software companies. It is still a big industry and there are many choices to meet your needs.

Andy Paul

CEO, Capitol Impact