AMC-Client Relationship is Not a Partnership

I recently attended the annual meeting of the AMC Institute in Long Beach, CA.  For a west coast venue, there was good turn out and Long Beach Convention and Visitors’ Bureau rolled out the red carpet.

There was a program this year that resurrected an old topic:  “Trusted Development as a Client Partnership Strategy” presented by Michael Reed of Bloch and Reed (Association Advisors).  Bloch and Reed is not an AMC, so in defining their role with clients as a “trusted partner”, I have no issue.  I continue to have an issue defining the AMC-Client relationship as a “partnership” for the same reasons I did back in April 2009 when I first posted on this topic.  (“AMCs More Like Agents Than Partners”)

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L&M Achieves AMC Institute Accreditation for 15th Year

SAN FRANCISCOFeb. 20, 2019PRLog — LoBue and Majdalany Association Management (L&M) has been awarded its fifth accreditation by the AMC Institute, the global trade association representing the Association Management industry.

Only 81 of more than 500 Association Management Companies (AMCs) worldwide have achieved AMC Institute Accreditation, demonstrating the commitment and ability to deliver the highest level of professional management services to associations and not-for-profit organization (NPO) clients. These AMCs are the recognized choice of associations and NPOs.

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In-house Association Management Services — Bad Idea!

The following is a comment to the article entitled “In-House Association Management Services Checklist” published in the Component Relations section of the ASAE. If you’re an ASAE member you can read the entire article here.

This is an excellent article, for as far as it goes. At first I was taken back and as an AMC owner thinking: ‘this market is competitive enough without a whole new class of competitors….’ But as I thought about the risks not identified in the article, I quickly realized three things.

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ASAE’s AMC Accreditation Program Discontinued

On May 21, 2007 the leadership of the ASAE and AMCI announced joint support for a single accreditation program based on the more rigorous AMCI program. The ASAE announced at that time that their program would end in 2010. More…

Despite the fact that ASAE’s AMC Accreditation program ended on 12/31/10, some AMCs continue to prominently display the logo and promote that having attained it somehow makes them special.

If an organization values accreditation, which they should, then organizational leaders should know that any AMC still displaying the following logos has not been paying attention to important deadlines and may be taking their own accreditation for granted.

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Selection Criteria

Michael LoBue writes:  Selecting the right AMC is very similar to selecting the right employee.  It’s all about right fit and that is the result of several important process steps.  The one step in the process this post is concerned with is having a well developed selection criteria for the choice.

While this seems like a blinding glimpse of the obvious, it is surprising how many organizations go out to bid without having their selection criterial established until the selection committee sits down to have their first discussion about the proposals they just received.

One of the reasons for this critical omission is that the selection committee is often tired just getting the request for proposal (rfp) material together.  This is understandable as a high quality rfp package involves a great deal of work; the type of work that boards do not normally spend their time doing.

Another reason selection criteria are omitted is that they don’t really seem necessary once the rfp material has been developed because the rfp material seems so complete.  The fact of the matter is — selection criteria are very different from the other elements in an rfp.  Selection criteria can be (should be) included in the rfp material, but when the criteria are not spelled out the chances of selecting the right fit becomes more of a chance-game than a deliberate outcome of the process.

There’s no generic selection criteria that fit all situations.  The right selection criteria contain those characteristics that are discernable, if not measureable, and will allow the selection committee to observe differences between proposing firms.  They might include:

  • Experience in the organization’s line of business or profession
  • Some threshold of capacity to accomplish the work
  • Experience in some service area that is new to the organization, representing new services and
          organizational opportunities
  • Certain business process practices, perhaps certification for key staff and/or accreditation to industry standards for the firm
  • The ability to serve as a public spokesperson for the organization

Once the selection committee has developed the criteria, the criteria should be provided to the bidders.  It’s okay to adjust the criteria as the selection committee goes about their work.   In fact, it would be surprising if the criteria didn’t drift a bit because this is typically a learning experience for the committee members.  If those criteria do drift a bit, those changes should be communicated to the bidding firms.

No, it is not sef-serving for a bidding firm to ask for criteria up front, although it is beneficial to the firm in developing their proposal.  The reason the bidders should establish their selection criteria ahead of time is because it will increase the likelihood of finding that right firm.   Not to tell the bidders means that the bidders have to engage in guess-work about what is most important to the selection committee.

Manage the risk inherent in searching for a new management firm by being clear about what is most important in the selection.  First, spend the time up front deciding the basis for your selections; second tell the bidding firms so they can present their skills and experience in terms that matter most to you and your organization.