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To Customize or Not to Customize Your Association Management Software

Written by Jodi Broadwater on . Posted in Association Best Practices, Avectra Customer Success


That was the question for the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN).

After nearly six years of struggling with an “Enterprise-type product that could do everything you wanted it to do, but not really — it all depended on what you wanted to pay them to do,” Patrick McGary, chief operating officer for ASPEN, said he began rethinking the value of customization for association management software.

“It became clear that the system was going to be far more than we could manage as far as the internal resources that were required, or far more than we could afford with monthly and upgrade fees,” he said. “We made an error when we decided to go with a very customizable product, and it was an expensive mistake.”

Realizing that “Customization isn’t necessarily all that it’s cracked up to be,” McGary was pleased to find that Avectra’s netFORUM Pro “met 90% of our needs without any customization,” he said. “To me, that meant Avectra had spent the time doing the research to build a product that could do what it said it would do, and I especially liked that continual, automated upgrades are included in what we pay for.”

With netFORUM Pro, ASPEN can capture all of its data — member profiles, certifications, meeting registrations, publication sales — within one comprehensive, Web-based association management software system and easily produce quick, accurate reports.

“Customization simply made things too difficult,” said McGary. “Sometimes more is not necessarily better, because you can create procedures that take ten steps when you could have accomplished the same thing in two or three.”

Rather than “throw in the kitchen sink,” as is easy with customized membership management solutions, McGary worked with Avectra’s Client Services and his Implementation Manager to assess past business processes and identify ways to simplify for the future.

Now, ASPEN has not only streamlined its processes for improved efficiency, but the association is able to reapportion its resources toward member-serving activities. “What I pay for a year now — to use a database that I think is as strong, if not stronger than what I previously used — is what I used to pay per quarter,” said McGary. “Now, I’m able to take that money and feed it back into the association to build programs, to produce publications, and to welcome another staff member to add to our education department.”

To hear more of McGary’s case, check out the video below:

Patrick McGary, ASPEN


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