This post originally appeared on #Onward, the blog of YourMembership, another member of the Community Brands family. 

Whether your association is working on an integration of your LMS and AMS, or don’t know where to start, here are the ins and outs to the benefits, challenges and support you need to succeed.

Perhaps one of the most important features of a learning management system (LMS) is its ability to integrate with the heart of your operation – association management software (AMS) system. The handshake between these two systems, and the seamless exchange of data between them, can mean all the difference in how your association is able to function and properly meet the needs of your members.

It’s now time for a poll. Have you implemented an AMS/LMS integration? Are you working on it? Or, maybe you don’t know where to start? But, that’s okay; this is a safe space. We’re here to walk you through the key benefits of a seamless integration, the challenges you may face, and what you should be looking for in support of this integration.

Key Benefits

Single sign-on. An efficient integration should allow your users to seamlessly access both your LMS and AMS platforms without multiple logins, preventing password fatigue and a poor user experience. Once logged in, your AMS can provide basic information about your learners that is then used to personalize their experience within the LMS.

Product sync and shopping cart. Integrated shopping allows users to purchase multiple items from the AMS and LMS through one checkout experience. Take it one step further by enabling a catalog or product integration, which automatically syncs the products, description and credit, without the need for double entry, taking the burden off your staff.

Professional development credits. Once an end user meets all the requirements of the LMS course and successfully submits for credit, you can request the LMS send completion data back to the AMS. This ensures your AMS has the comprehensive member profile and transcript. This also allows you to incorporate all credit data into your AMS reporting.

Challenges

Now, ask yourself these questions before you dive head-first into an AMS/LMS integration:

  • Here’s an obvious one: Do you have the internal resources/bandwidth to work on an integration?
  • What are the key systems for authentication, products, grades/CEU, ecommerce, and CRM needed to integrate?
  • What exactly will be exchanged in each of these data points, and at what frequency?
  • What historical data for transcripts and user grades/CE are required to migrate?
  • What do you want the buying experience to be like for your end users?
  • Will there be any other ways of gaining access outside the primary login you designate?
  • What will the transition plan entail from an existing provider to your new system?

Establish a Successful Integration

Yes, those are a lot of questions to consider. But, here are some starting points to make it a bit easier to swallow:

  • Ensure buy-in from your entire organization.
  • Define your internal project manager/point of contact.
  • Schedule discovery calls to define your requirements, based on the previous questions.
  • Outline your needs and the process using a spec sheet/statement of work (SOW).
  • Define a plan to transition from your current provider to your new provider, if applicable.
  • Incorporate other vendors involved with the different integration points, such as site design.
  • Communicate the transition to your members, and how they will be affected, sharing a positive message, as well as any expected outages.

How are you feeling now about an AMS/LMS integration? If you’re still feeling a bit uneasy, listen to how two of our Community Brands LMS professionals explain in detail these benefits, challenges, and considerations, along with how any burden from an integration can be lifted off you.

Watch our AMS/LMS Integration Blueprint solutions webinar from April 17, 2018.

About the Author

Marc Benton is a Learning Solutions Engineer in the Careers and Education division of Community Brands.