When it comes to association software, iMIS has been the leading force in the industry for years.
It remains the only Engagement Management System (EMS) that readily allows organizations to grow and scale while also providing their members with a world-class digital membership experience.
With many proven successes and endless untapped possibilities, it’s hard to understand why some iMIS users are choosing to delay their digital transformations to iMIS EMS in the cloud.
One of my clients, an association that has been using iMIS for over 15 years, is among those who are hesitant to upgrade to iMIS EMS. They are currently in the best situation they have ever been as an organization. Membership numbers are strong; their capital campaign has been overwhelmingly successful; member affinity is increasing; their staff is diverse and growing; and they are exceeding their peers in most areas. I asked key staff members and decision-makers to share the reasons for their reluctance. As it turns out, their questions and concerns aren’t unique to their association at all. They are all apprehensions I’ve heard many times from other organizations and users in the iMIS community. Are you on the fence about making the switch to iMIS EMS? If so, you’ll want to read on as we explore four common digital transformation roadblocks that keep organizations like yours from making the most of their iMIS EMS journeys.
Factor #1: Time
You may be thinking, “This kind of transition takes time and we are too busy for interruptions.” It’s true that your journey to iMIS EMS will require an investment of time from your staff and organization. But with proper planning and execution, it doesn’t have to be painful or burdensome. At CSI, we take a phased approach that allows organizations time to plan and assess where they are, as well as where they are going. It provides clarity for our clients as they embark on their iMIS EMS journey and ultimately saves time and money, too. You can enjoy similar results by following these proven steps:
- Current state assessment: Inventory your key business processes and assess their complexity
- Future state definition: Reimagine your core business process and what it will take to accomplish them in terms of staffing, technology solutions, and processes.
- Create a roadmap: Develop a migration path and timeline for completion
- Prepare to execute your roadmap: Ensure you have the necessary resources in place to carry out your plan
- Implementation & beyond: When the time comes to conduct your migration, be sure to place adequate time and focus on change management to ensure long-term success and user satisfaction.
Best of all, you can start taking steps right now to ensure your transition is smooth and painless:
- Document existing business processes.
- Review your existing customizations and identify which ones will need to be modified
- Review your business processes and identify what can be simplified.
- Identify your 3rd party partners and integrations to determine their readiness to implement with iMIS EMS
- As you add new customizations and workflows, make sure they are cloud-compliant
Factor #2: Fear of Change
Have you thought, “Why change? We’re comfortable with the way things are working.”
Change can be uncomfortable and even intimidating, but that doesn’t mean it’s not needed. If your staff is contented and efficient in operating in your current iMIS environment, then they are going to be thrilled once they switch to iMIS EMS! All of the proven elements that have made iMIS great are still present, but you’re going to be treated to an even better user interface, a more intuitive design, and an all-around simplified experience for your staff.
When change is on the horizon, such as a new software version, comfort comes through adjustment and knowledge. An easy way to get your staff acclimated to iMIS is through the iMIS Learning Subscription (iLS). With the iLS, users have access to self-paced, 24/7 online training.
They can even get a head start on these training materials prior to the migration.
Factor #3: Value
Are you wondering if the new features and functionality are worth your investment and time?
The answer is an emphatic YES! With more than 100 enhancements and new features in iMIS EMS, the game-changers are abundant. There’s literally a benefit for every association. Some key enhancements include:
- Process complex dues pricing with only a few clicks. Membership dues billing has never been easier, regardless of how cumbersome your dues are to process.
- The iMIS Report Writer lets even novices build powerful reports with ease. But now, it includes the ability to build stunning dashboards with drag and drop areas. Simple visualization options let you showcase data in a variety of ways, as well.
- Form Builder lets you scrap all those extraneous, time-wasting 3rd party forms platforms. Now everything is native to iMIS so you readily level up your join process or volunteer interest forms with approvals and post-submission workflows.
- Powerful promo codes allow you to automatically apply discounts in the cart without users needing to know the code. Membership departments can easily offer multiple discounts in advance for new members or renewals.
- Perhaps the most valuable enhancement is added security. In addition to iMIS EMS being a leader in the cloud environment Microsoft Azure, ASI has invested in robust new security measures to keep customer data safe and secure.
Factor #4: Uncertainty
Maybe you’re thinking, “We aren’t sure which path is right for us.”
When you upgrade to iMIS EMS, you have a number of options at your disposal. The key to making the right choice lies in understanding each option and how it aligns with your organization:
- Option 1: Direct Upgrade
This is the basic upgrade path that takes you from iMIS 2017 directly to iMIS EMS. It’s the direct option and the most efficient path for clients who don’t require many customizations and changes.
- Option 2: iMIS 20/20 Advance Program
The iMIS 20/20 Advance Program is essentially a transition step for organizations with more complexity who are migrating to iMIS EMS, who require more time to remove customizations and evaluate integrations that are not cloud-friendly. This approach allows you to take advantage of iMIS EMS features and functionality and also allows time to make thoughtful decisions on customizations. During this time frame, users don’t receive automatic upgrades but are able to access periodic releases to remain current.
- Option 3: iMIS EMS Self-Hosted
New in 2021, this option opens the door for many customers to experience many of the benefits of iMIS EMS while still retaining the flexibility they need today. In fact, iMIS is one of the only (if not the only) membership and fundraising-based software packages that allow customers to “self-host”. This means that you as the customer can determine where your iMIS ecosystem resides. It doesn’t have to be in your office but instead can be in an approved data center such as Microsoft Azure or Amazon AWS. It relieves you of the burden of worrying about hosting and you can leave that to the experts. It’s a good option because your transition to a full cloud EMS environment can now happen at a pace that saves you money and causes less disruption. You get the best of both worlds (iMIS EMS and existing integrations and customizations) while you begin working on your transformation journey. For some customers, this path will be more cost-effective on an annual basis because it allows you to spread the cost of migration out over several years.
And, you can transition to EMS with little impact on staff learning curves. The number of lost hours of staff time due to learning a new system and then adapting to its use can be enormous. This approach allows you to seamlessly reap all of the benefits of your brand-new system with minimal user disruption.Sure, we all wish we could instantly be on an iMIS EMS solution. But that is not a possibility for many organizations. ASI knows that transitions take time and this option can be a magic potion.
- Option 4: A Different Path
At CSI, we think some clients will choose a new approach to their iMIS implementation rather than one of the three upgrade options listed above. Many of our existing customers implemented 15+ years ago and those configurations and business decisions should be re-assessed. This transition presents the opportunity to make a new start with fresh technology.When we recently asked one of our clients, “Why are we doing things this way?”, their answer was, “Former staff wanted it done that way.” So we proposed a wild idea: What If you started with a brand new implementation that was set up for success in a way that reflects what your organization and members want to be today? We evaluated their options and ultimately determined that a completely new implementation would be the fastest and most cost-effective approach to getting them where they wanted to be.
Thanks to our trusted partnership, they agreed that this was indeed the best path forward. Now they are live on iMIS EMS with a brand-new RiSE website, clean data, enhanced Join and Renew processes, and a staff that’s very knowledgeable about their data and systems. This isn’t the path for everyone but it was the best option for this long-time iMIS client, and it may very well be the right solution for other organizations, too.
Unleash Your Full Potential
No matter which path you choose, a transition to iMIS EMS allows you to reimagine your organization’s business rules and goals using next-generation technologies.
And at the same time, your staff is able to easily transition to a system they already know, so there’s little downtime or disruption.
CSI has been serving the not-for-profit and iMIS community for over 30 years. We can say with confidence that iMIS EMS is the best system for our clients. Your full potential is waiting to be unleashed and today is the day to get started!
About the Author
Doug Morris is the Founder and Chief Product Officer of Computer System Innovations, Inc. (CSI) located near Chicago in Wheaton, Illinois. CSI has been actively focused on enhancing results for users in the not-for-profit space since 1992.
While Doug provides the overall leadership, stewardship, and vision for CSI’s product portfolio, he remains deeply involved in its daily operations. From working directly with clients to collaborating with industry thought leaders, to developing applications and integrations, he is active with both customers and prospects.
Doug is also involved with the International iMIS User’s Group (NiUG). He currently serves on the NiUG Asia Pacific Board as Vice-Chair and is the Chapter Liaison for NiUG International.