What level of professional association management do we need to manage our association efficiently and well?  That is the first question you must ask when deciding whether to  hire or keep staff of your own or to retain the services of an Association Management company.
 
Employed staff of an association may have limited experience dealing with challenges related to association management if the only association with which they have experience is yours.  This can restrict the life experience and networking connections available to them.  It can be difficult to get any perspective on an organization's problems and weaknesses when you're hip deep in it yourself, and don't have room to pull back and see the bigger picture.
 
Staff within an AMC typically have had experience working with one or more associations, which gives them depth and breadth of experience. At Able Management Solutions, we also encourage clients to allow our staff to spend time working for the industries and professions represented by the associations they manage, in order to gain greater insights and perspectives.  Reading is a great way to learn, but nothing compares with hands-on knowledge.
 
Associations deal with people, and people experience emotions that can affect their work, especially when job security is an immediate or ongoing concern. On the other hand, staff working for an AMC can bring enormous objectivity to the table,  enabling them to keep distance and perspective and deal with issues, not pick at problems.  They have no personal axe to grind and are concerned only with providing guidance and direction to keep their assigned associations moving toward their respective clients' own stated goals.
 
A final point to consider is whether, with an in-house staff, you run the risk of having experience that is a "mile wide and an inch deep."  Regardless of what industry, profession or segment of society your association represents, it's good to have a few people on hand with experience outside that particular box.  It is possible to recruit employees with this in mind, or you can find an association management company that doesn't spread staff too thin in experience and responsibilities.
 
Board leadership has the final decision on whether to add the role of employer to its other fiduciary duties or whether to retain an AMC, with its resources and economies of scale, to  shoulder these responsibilities.