Apr 01 2011
SMS has transitioned four full-service clients into our practice over the past year—and we have learned a few things along the way (sometimes the hard way) that may be useful for your association to consider if you are switching management companies.
Key Considerations include:
· Relationships—the transition will only be as successful as the least-gracious participant. Granted, if you are switching companies, there may already be relational issues at play, but maintaining a positive relationship with the company that you are transitioning from can dramatically improve the effectiveness of the company that you are transitioning to.
· Finance—Key considerations include taxes–Have they been filed? Are you in the midst of an audit? Will you be switching accounting firms as part of the transition? Communication with both firms will be critical to ensure a smooth transition here. Officers will also need to be prepared to provide updated personal information including social security numbers in order to transition and re-establish bank accounts in a new location. It is also important to remember that there may be a 60-90 day lag in financial reporting as a result of the transition (transferring information, switching accounts, incompatible accounting software etc.)
· Events— Making a smooth transition with regard to meeting services is critical for short-term organizational health. Be certain that timelines/due dates are well communicated during the transition and that convention insurance and hotel contracts have been completed. If possible, plan to transition before conference and sponsorship registration open so that nothing gets lost in the shuffle.
· Other Contracts & Agreements—Vendors and consultants need to have clear direction about with whom they should work—it is imperative that they have a single point of contact at all times. Set a firm transition date from which they stop working with one firm and begin working with another, and if necessary, assign a board liaison to be CCd on correspondence from vendors to ensure continuity during the transition.
· IT—Make sure that all of your membership and other critical data is backed up and that the firm that you are leaving provides an electronic archive of all organizational files. In most cases, you are entitled to all files (including graphic design files and templates) that were used by the firm to serve your organization.
· Website—If your website is built in a language that is outdated (particularly if it is hosted in a siloed hosting environment), the entire site may have to be rewritten in order to be relocated and updated, which can significantly delay the transition of the site. If the site is already hosted by a third-party vendor, it may be best to leave it where it is until the rest of the transition is complete.
· Old Business & Special Projects—Make sure that you and your new executive staff are prepared to complete any outstanding projects or old business that requires attention. Oftentimes the most painful part of the transition process results from little details that are missed (phone calls unreturned, insurance not renewed etc.)
The final tip? Patience. Despite the best efforts of your new AMC and the fantastic relationship that you have maintained with the old, there will be glitches, gaffs, kerfuffles and kinks that insert themselves between you and your ideal transition:) A good sense of humor never hurts either…
Have a transition story to share?
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