Some days it may feel like technology is the enemy. Computer crashes, clunky systems, and all the instant messages make you want to go back to stone tablets! But with these smart strategies, you can ensure your technology is working for your association and not against you.
1. Know What Problem You Are Solving
Before updating association management software or investing in a new communication tool, take a step back. Identify the specific problem or inefficiency you’re aiming to solve. It’s crucial to understand whether your existing systems can address the issue through reconfiguration or an add-on. A targeted approach ensures that your technology investments align with your association’s actual needs.
2. Foster Open Channels for Feedback
Leaders are often removed from the things bogging down the association’s operations. Establish open channels for feedback, allowing all users to share their insights on current systems and propose changes. This collaborative approach not only identifies pain points but also creates a culture of continuous improvement.
3. Regularly Evaluate by Asking the Right Questions
Scheduled evaluations should be planned for all association technology solutions. Keep in mind that entry-level staff may not have the perspective to spot inefficiencies readily. Craft questions that dig deep into their daily experiences, such as “what tasks consume a significant amount of time” or “what tools do you dredge using”? These questions can unearth challenges that might otherwise go unnoticed.
4. Keep Up-to-Date
Even if you aren’t planning a software change, encourage staff to stay informed by attending webinars or education sessions on tools that are relevant to their job. Also, work with your software vendors to receive regular communications and training on new features.
5. Approach Sales Pitches with Caution
Especially if the salesperson has not had time to learn about your association’s business processes, beware of promises that a tool will solve all of your problems. The truth is, it will probably solve some problems and create new ones. Dig deep and ask a ton of questions.
6. Embrace Low-Cost Trials for Innovation
Encourage your staff to try new, inexpensive tools. If a potential solution will not take a ton of time to implement and is low-cost, give your team the flexibility to experiment for a trial period.
7. Invest Incrementally
Use your regular technology evaluations to find small ways to advance your technology. Invest in keeping the version of your current tools updated to avoid getting too far behind and having to make a larger investment later.
8. AI is Not Out to Get You
Tools like ChatGPT, AI meeting summaries, photo generators, etc. can help overcome the disadvantage associations have as under-resourced organizations competing with…well everyone. Have conversations with your staff about the appropriate ways to use AI tools and set guidelines for their use.
By employing these strategies, executive directors can transform technology from a potential adversary into a catalyst for efficiency, innovation, and overall success.