CRM or AMS - which solution is best for your association? Early AMS software has given way to a more sophisticated approach using the best features of both.

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Moving from AMS to Microsoft Dynamics® 365

Here is why organizations are moving from simple association management software to customer relationship management software. Fifteen years ago, most association executives did not view their members as "customers," nor did they use the terms "sales" and "marketing." Today these terms are used frequently to describe strategic plans to maintain and grow membership, and create non-dues revenue.

It now makes sense to use a CRM platform, so associations are moving from AMS to Microsoft Dynamics® 365, made relevant to them by the Altai Membership xRM application.

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CRM or AMS - Comparison

Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Association Management Software

Microsoft Dynamics CRM The entire system is designed to capture knowledge about the customer and their wants. CRM allows the organization to see the client’s interests, understand who the best customers are, know which products and services are generating the most revenue and then allow the organization to market those products and services to the customers who are least engaged.
Association Management Software AMS systems were designed with the specific goal of successfully managing 4 key tasks: tracking member contact information, billing dues, managing events, and producing static reports such as labels and badges. Marketing, sales and business intelligence designed to help generate revenue have always been an afterthought to AMS functional development.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Microsoft Dynamics® 365 was designed with workflow automation built in from the beginning. It’snot an add-on. This means automating business processes is central to the functionality of the software.
Association Management Software For many generations of AMS products, the user interface and process workflow was an afterthought. The systems were meant to be a database, and few resources were put into how to make the association staff’s job more efficient.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Microsoft Dynamics® 365 was developed from the start as a marketing platform. This marketing functionality has been improved upon through 5 generations of the product based on feedback from thousands of companies. Microsoft Dynamics® 365 marketing capability also includes the availability of dozens of 3rd party marketing add-on solutions that work seamlessly with Microsoft Dynamics® 365.
Association Management Software Most AMS systems do not inherently contain marketing functionality, and no AMS comes close to the Marketing automation that exists in Microsoft Dynamics® 365. The choice of 3rd party add-ons for AMS is also typically limited because other vendors see limited value in developing solutions for the small customer base available for each AMS vendor.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM The ability to extend the solution. As we’ve already shown, Microsoft Dynamics® 365 is designed from the ground up to be flexible and extendable. In addition to the ability to easily create new entities, forms and fields, you can also develop your own custom workflows to make CRM fit your business processes. This flexibility also extends to the web as Microsoft Dynamics® 365 is a completely web-based application.
Association Management Software While most AMS systems provide some level of configuration, none of them have the flexibility of an xRM system and the proven ability to protect and upgrade changes to the application like Microsoft Dynamics® 365.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Microsoft also provides extensive API’s that are used by many thousands of developers so that Microsoft Dynamics® 365 can integrate with other solutions and easily allow an organization to implement outside custom development.
Association Management Software Even the more advanced AMS solutions that provide a “tool-kit” still rely on their own proprietary SDKs and APIs as opposed to the much more widely used and supported architecture and APIs used by Microsoft.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM There are hundreds of companies who are able to support Microsoft Dynamics® 365. And an association most likely already has IT staff that is familiar with or certified in Microsoft technologies. There is a much shorter learning curve necessary to support the Microsoft Dynamics® 365 solution.
Association Management Software With a proprietary AMS you are typically left with only the AMS vendor as an option for support. While some AMS vendors do have partner channels, the options available are still very small compared to the Microsoft Dynamics® 365 partner channel. In addition your IT staff will have to learn a proprietary piece of software that they have likely never used before nor will ever use again.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Microsoft delivers much more innovation and enhancement capabilities to the Microsoft Dynamics® 365 solution. The product is in its 5th generation and clients can be assured their investment will be well insulated from changes in technology.
Association Management Software Microsoft employs more developers and spends more on R&D for Microsoft Dynamics® 365 than the total revenue of the major AMS vendors combined. AMS vendors will always be playing “catch-up” to the new technology that the major technology players like Microsoft will be rolling out first. History has shown that significant shifts in technology and development platforms are difficult for AMS vendors to make and expensive for their customers in terms of product upgrades.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM There is a very deep level of technical and user support available for Microsoft Dynamics® 365. This includes not only the documentation available from Microsoft, but also thousands of discussion forums, blogs and user communities.
Association Management Software While many AMS systems also have user groups, they are often controlled by the vendor or the group is simply too small to provide a broad or deep knowledge base.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Microsoft is a proven leader in technology innovation. There are more than 2.7 million users on Microsoft Dynamics® 365. This very large user base helps drive enhancements to the solution that will help all types of organizations.
Association Management Software While AMS vendors do generally have specific knowledge with regard to the functional needs of their customers, this narrow view of functionality and business requirements can limit their ability to “think outside the box” when it comes to solution enhancements. AMS vendors will continually be followers of technology improvements.
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