What Is an Association Management System?

What Is an Association Management System?

Associations like homeowner associations (HOAs), property owner associations (POAs), non-profits, and professional membership organizations have unique needs when managing internal operations, finances, and other daily administration. 

Juggling the various administrative, governance, and member engagement responsibilities involved in running an association can quickly become complex and time-consuming – and that’s before the annual meetings need to be scheduled and complaints dealt with!

What helps many handle the tasks of management is a robust AMS. Association management systems, sometimes called AMS or association software, are purpose-built HOA software platforms designed specifically to meet the end-to-end management needs of member-based groups and associations. They aim to centralize key tasks, maximize efficiency through automation, facilitate transparent communications, and enhance your ability to use data to make crucial decisions for your organization.

But what exactly constitutes an association management system? What core features and functionality should you expect in an AMS platform or HOA software programs like these? And will an AMS truly help you solve many of your outstanding challenges as a management professional? 



What is an AMS?

At their core, association management systems consolidate, automate, and optimize critical operations and member engagement functions for associations, including:

Association Administration

AMS platforms provide robust tools to administer core governance, financial oversight, and operational logistics, including:

  • Document management (governing docs, meeting minutes, policies, etc.)
  • Calendar management
  • Vendor/contractor management
  • General ledger and accounting
  • Work order requests and tracking

Membership Management

Managing member communications, billing, database profiles, and other membership needs is streamlined through AMS platforms via features like:

  • Database of member profiles
  • Customizable dues billing and collections
  • New member onboarding
  • Membership renewals

Communication Tools

Facilitating seamless member communications and transparency is simplified with built-in AMS features such as:

  • Broadcast email and text alerts
  • Surveys
  • Forums and social features


A centralized website and homeowner portal enable self-service access and convenience:

  • Branded association website
  • Homeowner/member self-service portal
  • Mobile access to documents, account balances

AMS platforms enable streamlined, transparent management that saves substantial administrative time and resources by centralizing association tasks critical for effective operations, governance, and community building into a single integrated system.

Who Uses Association Management Systems?

Association management systems are designed to serve various member-based organization types, most commonly:

Homeowners Associations (HOAs)

Both small- and large-scale residential HOAs use AMS platforms to manage communications, documents, violations, facility usage, work orders, accounting, and more in one place tailored to community association needs.

Property Owners Associations (POAs)

Like HOAs, residential and commercial property owner groups use POAs to govern shared resources. AMS tools meet needs commonly faced – like tracking dues and maintenance requests and ensuring bylaw compliance.

Non-Profit Organizations

Charities, trade associations, social clubs, cooperatives, and other non-profit groups use AMS software to handle event registration management, email marketing, fundraising campaigns, online donations, and volunteering.

Membership Organizations

Chambers, buyer groups, social clubs, alumni organizations, fraternal groups, and other professional/trade associations leverage AMS solutions to drive recruitment engagement, membership renewals, website integration, communications, and programming.

What Features Should You Look For In An AMS?

As technology and user expectations advance, leading association management systems provide robust and intuitive tools to meet today’s member engagement and operations demands, including:

Mobile Responsiveness – Modern AMS platforms contain native mobile apps and mobile-optimized member portals for on-the-go access from any device.

Real-time Analytics – Dynamic dashboards and reporting provide insights to guide decisions on budgets, asset performance, resident needs, and more.

Interactive Workflows – Guided digital workflows for violations, architectural improvements, work orders, and other submissions enhance user experience.

Accountability – Features like status tracking and task assignments promote follow-through toward resolution.

Integrations – Native integrations with key third-party apps allow an AMS platform to serve as an association’s central nervous system.

PCI Compliance –Robust data security protocols and processes protect against breaches involving sensitive member information.

An AMS May Be Your Association’s Next Best Investment

When powered by a purpose-built AMS, staff and board members can optimize workflows, access data anywhere, automate manual processes, facilitate transparent communications, and deliver five-star experiences across the member lifecycle. 

The right technology saves associations time and money and allows them to focus on serving their core purpose rather than getting bogged down in internal administration duties. Dollar for dollar, adopting a specialized association management system is one of the best investments an HOA, non-profit, or membership-based group can make.


What’s the difference between AMS software and CRM software?

CRM software focuses narrowly on sales and marketing functions, while AMS contains modules to manage membership administration, accounting, communications, portals, and more.

What training is involved with an association management system?

Reputable AMS vendors provide onboarding resources like training guides, video tutorials, knowledge bases, and dedicated support specialists to ensure users adopt the system confidently.

How much does association management software cost?

Quality AMS solutions are available in monthly software-as-a-service subscription models that scale based on the number of users and modules needed, often starting under $100/month. Larger, more complex organizations may have higher pricing tiers with more features.

Can an AMS integrate with my existing QuickBooks account?

Yes, leading solutions provide APIs to enable seamless integration between platforms and can even sync data in real-time for accurate financial management.

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