Technology planning

Hiring an association technology consultant: 4 FAQs

Originally posted on March 12, 2024 on ASAE Center.

Technology consultants help associations leverage their software and invest in add-ons and customizations. This guide explores FAQs about hiring a consultant.

Associations rely on powerful technology to drive revenue, manage and recruit members, and optimize marketing efforts. Whether the organization is looking for setup and development assistance or effective, long-term support, each association has its own set of unique challenges. An expert in association management technology can guide organizations to tailored tools and strategies for sustainable success.

This guide explores four questions associations often have when considering hiring a technology consultant.

1. What is an association technology consultant?

An association technology consultant is a highly qualified expert typically specializing in a specific platform (e.g., Salesforce) and/or industry.

Often, technology consultants have certifications granted by the platform. Consultants are equipped to assist associations in various large-scale technology-related projects including implementation, integrations, customization, and investing in add-ons to maximize the solution’s effectiveness.

2. How do technology consultants help associations?

The main goal of a technology consultant is to help associations drive organizational success by optimizing their systems for their size, needs, and goals. Generally, an engagement with a technology consultant includes the following components:

  • Assessing association needs. First, technology consultants must understand the association’s goals, details about their current solution, and how that technology is being used through a technology or needs assessment.
  • Planning the implementation or upgrade. Based on findings from the technology assessment, the consultant will recommend changes to the association’s current solution or the implementation of new technology.
  • Configuring the solution. Next, the consultant will outline a customized solution tailored to the organization’s needs, develop the system, and assist with data migration and integrations. After rollout, the consultant will test the solution and troubleshoot any technical issues.
  • Offering long-term support. The consultant can provide ongoing assistance to resolve issues if the solution has complex, custom features or integrations. Additionally, consultants can help scale up the solution alongside association growth.

Why Association Technology Consultants?

Adopting robust, complicated association management technology can be challenging and even risky to do alone. From assisting with adopting new technology, configuring features to fit organization-specific requirements, and advising on the use of external apps and tools like artificial intelligence, technology consultants can be a valuable asset for associations with more complex technology needs.

As associations grow and needs change, they may need to cycle through the process again to reconfigure and scale the solution.

3. How should associations select a technology consultant?

For associations considering working with a technology consultant, it’s crucial to ensure that the partner is the right fit for their organization and qualified to assist them. To strike a balance between these criteria, Fíonta’s guide to selecting a technology partner recommends taking steps such as:

  • Researching the potential partner’s qualifications. For example, associations using Salesforce-powered technology will need to choose Salesforce partners who have high ratings and reviews on the AppExchange. Consultants should also have a client portfolio so interested associations can view past projects and success stories.
  • Following recommendations and checking references. Request consultant recommendations from your professional network, browse referral lists from trustworthy websites and follow up on client references from the consultant.
  • Prioritizing reliable consultants. Look for consultants who have ample experience in the association sector. For example, associations that need assistance with specific projects like event management or online learning programs should ensure the consultant has a background in those areas.
  • Finding a long-term partner. Associations can save time and resources by choosing a partner who fits their long-term needs. Using the same consultant means they are already familiar with your association and ready to provide ongoing support, meaning you will not need to spend time researching a new partner.
  • Avoiding fixating on budget alone. While cost is a critical factor, it’s best to prioritize fit and quality first. Remember that costs can vary greatly depending on the scope and complexity of the project, and the return on investment for a qualified partner can be significant.

These simple steps will help you find the right consultant for your association to invest in, leading to a long-term, collaborative partnership.

4. What questions should associations ask prospective consultants?

Once associations have selected a few top prospective consultants, it’s time to contact them. These discussions will typically include an account executive from the consulting firm, and they are the best time to ask questions about the services provided, such as:

  • Are you experienced in and equipped to assist with our specific project?
  • Have you served similar clients in the past, and if so, do you have case studies and references?
  • What does your approach to addressing needs like ours look like?
  • Could we meet with the team responsible for managing the engagement (e.g., the project manager and technical staff)?

These questions help associations determine whether the partner fits their needs well, allowing them to make an informed final decision. If your association is looking for concrete details, consider sending consultants a request for information (RFI) in which they can respond with the specific ways they would manage your project.