The challenge for association management

In my column on April 27, “Association and Corporate Management: Differentiating Factors”, I mentioned that association management and corporate management are not exactly similar fields and that there are at least eight aspects that distinguish them. In this column, I wish to share with you a recent blog by Jennifer Barrell, director of Content, Branding & Buzz at Aptify, an association and membership-management software- solutions provider based in the US.

In her blog, Ms. Barrell said, “Association management is not typically something that is thought of as especially fast-moving or agile. However, in recent years, advances in technology and data analysis for associations have started to quicken the pace of innovation and change in our industry.”  The rest of her article is in the next four paragraphs.

Certainly, there will be changes to association management this year, but what about two years from now? What adjustments will associations have to make over the next few years to be successful? Aptify sees three main areas that associations will need to make a priority of in order to see long-term success.

First is strategy, which is at the core of any long-term success. Associations will need, not just to think about their current needs and the immediate needs of their members, but think ahead on how members’ needs and interests might change. This means staying on top of industry best practices, as well as associations aligning themselves with partners and collaborators that are forward thinking.

Second is technology. Association management has come a long way in the last decade. Association-management systems (AMS) are now able to provide valuable data analytics to help associations to recruit, engage and retain members. AMS are becoming more configurable, allowing associations a la carte options instead of having to purchase full systems. Keeping up with AMS technology will give organizations a headway of things to come.

Third is execution. No matter how much strategy and technology know-how you have, it’s all for naught if you don’t know how to execute. Successful associations know that technology and strategic guidance are irrelevant if the everyday work of running an association doesn’t get accomplished. Associations will need to learn how to execute their day-to-day operations that make their organization what it is while continuing to think ahead and adjust to advancements and trends.

I have yet to see and hear of any association in the Philippines using AMS in the three years that the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives (PCAAE) has existed. I hope I am wrong, but I guess not having these systems is one of the reasons association management here is still so 20th century. Or, perhaps, it is simply the case of “if it ain’t broke, why fix it?” mentality that may seem to bear out why many associations here are merely “coasting along”.


The column contributor, Octavio “Bobby” Peralta, is concurrently the secretary-general of the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific (ADFIAP) and the CEO and founder of the PCAAE. The PCAAE is holding the Associations Summit 5 (AS5) on November 22 and 23, at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), which is expected to draw over 200 association professionals here and abroad. The two-day event is supported by the ADFIAP, the Tourism Promotions Board and the PICC. E-mail [email protected] for more details on AS5.




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