One of the questions we are asked most frequently is: “Should I upgrade my current system or should I start looking at a new AMS?” To many users of older AMS platforms, the annual upgrade process can involve months of process and functionality review, bug and regression testing, multiple deployments, and tens of thousands of dollars of time and material costs – all while potentially only receiving minimal new functionality and bug fixes, many of which may or may not benefit your organization.

When we talk to our clients about upgrading, we always want to make sure they understand the pros and cons of upgrading their existing platform vs. looking for a new/better one. Many of the legacy platforms, like iMIS or NetForum, require fairly long upgrade processes, while potentially providing limited return on that time and dollar investment. If your organization is ready to rethink and improve your current AMS functionality and processes, find better ways to understand and engage your members and constituents, and/or upgrade your overall technology stack (and thereby breaking free of the arduous annual upgrade), then we recommend you consider Salesforce and Nimble AMS as an option. If you are interested in some of the concepts that can be helpful as you are trying to determine whether to upgrade or look at a new system, check out last month’s blog: Business Process Reviews – SO much better than they sound!

As you are investigating your options whether to upgrade or look for something new, we have found that there are some advantages when transitioning from systems such as iMIS, Personify, and even our beloved NetForum to the Nimble AMS:

  • New technology for the modern world – Many of the proprietary MS SQL and .Net based solutions are optimized and built on older versions of Microsoft servers. We have current clients that are still running SQL Server 2014 and older Windows 2016 servers. This older technology stack is less secure, less supported, and more difficult to upgrade. Nimble AMS is built on the most current version of Salesforce (because every Nimble client is ALWAYS on the most recent version!) and includes many new features out of the box, including Lightning Experience and Lightning Communities. Additional new features included with Salesforce and Nimble include easy integrations (with thousands of available integrations in the AppExchange), rock-solid security (check out https://trust.salesforce.com for more info), Einstein predictive analytics (already incorporated into the Nimble AMS platform), and a modern design and fully mobile friendly staff AND member facing experience.
  • Upgrades are no longer an issue – As mentioned in the section above, upgrades to a modern AMS platform should provide new features and functionality and not focus on just fixing existing bugs. Nimble AMS is the ONLY platform in the Salesforce AMS market in which every client is always on the most recent version of both Salesforce and the AMS. Nimble’s continuous delivery model ensures that three times each year, your organization not only receives updates to existing functionality, but gets new major and minor features that can be implemented and utilized with minimal effort. The Salesforce and Nimble AMS upgrade processes happen automatically without interruption and are included as part of an organization’s license agreement. Additionally, Nimble provides previews, webinars, and documentation of each new feature that is becoming available before it is released, along with instructions how to implement and use it. Finally, support is greatly simplified, as there is only a single version of the platform to maintain and support, allowing Salesforce and Nimble AMS to provide a lower total cost of ownership.
  • Configuration is MUCH better than customization – In some older MS-based AMS platforms, the effort it takes to simply add a new field to a staff facing or online form requires knowing SQL, HTML, CSS, and potentially .Net code. Add to that the thousands of lines of code that must be created in order to do something simple like automate a task, or create an online membership join process, and you are probably look at thousands of hours of customizations just to get your organization to use the “baseline” product. Additionally, upgrades of those same platforms sometimes require re-writing that code to meet new .Net and SQL requirements, as well hours of regression testing of each piece of functionality to make sure those code changes work properly. All of these customizations add up to a significant sunk cost that is hard to maintain and improve over time and makes each platform upgrade more difficult than the last. The Nimble AMS and Salesforce platforms are built on the concept of declarative programming, which allows users to do the majority of all changes using a point-and-click interface, without having to know how to write ANY code. Additionally, Nimble AMS leverages built in Salesforce tools like Process Builder, automated and screen Flows, and Approvals to create and execute automated processes without writing a line of code. Finally, the Nimble Create tool provides staff with the ability to create styled and personalized templates for use in reporting and email communications with internal and external constituents.
  • Modern reporting interfaces – We hear from organizations using older AMS solutions that one of the biggest pain points with their older platforms is querying, filtering, and getting accurate data out of the system. In order to create real graphical reports in these platforms, you need to be able to write SQL code and know how to work with Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services. Transitioning to Nimble AMS will immediately provide power to your staff to generate their own reports, queries, and dashboards, without writing ANY code. The built-in Salesforce Reporting interface makes it easy to understand what fields are being returned, how queries and filters are built, and which graphs and visualizations can be used to best display the data. Additionally, Salesforce dashboards allow users to group important reports together for quick viewing, manipulate and filter already existing reports, as well as subscribe to specific reports and have them delivered to the user’s inbox at pre-determined times. Finally, with easy existing connectors and integrations to powerful business intelligence platforms like Nucleus or other tools, it is simple to blend your AMS data with your organization’s existing third party data platforms.

For anyone who is interested in exploring a transition from their current system to a Salesforce-based platform like Nimble AMS, we would be happy to help! Our team has a great deal of experience in helping associations with the multifaceted cost/benefit analyses that guide these sorts of decisions, and no one has a better technical understanding of AMS systems. We’d also be happy to connect you with some of the many clients who have made transitions like these and are ecstatic about it.

Please feel free to reach out directly if you’d like an introductory demo of the Nimble platform, or if you have any questions about the process and potential budget for implementing it for your organization.

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