Membership-based organizations such as professional associations, trade associations, foundations, regulatory bodies, non-profits, unions, clubs, voluntary associations, chamber of commerce, board of trades, and guilds face the challenge of adapting to changing member expectations and technological advancements. Customized Association Management Software (AMS) is increasingly becoming a necessity for organizations with unique requirements and a substantial member base. Read further to discover insights about modernizing your Legacy CMS/AMS successfully while learning valuable solutions.
Why Consider Custom Applications?
Membership-based organizations are responsible for managing complex agreements and contracts that directly impact their members’ benefits and opportunities. For instance, in the film production industry, members are hired through their respective associations, requiring meticulous coordination and streamlined processes. In the healthcare industry, staffing is based on agreements that consider seniority, employment type (part-time, full-time, contract) and certifications for shift scheduling.
Challenges Faced by Standard Solutions
Off-the-shelf membership software offers standard solutions that cater to a wide range of membership organizations, such as member profiles, payment solutions, member directories, etc. Off-the-shelf solutions can be economical, easy to set up and meet the requirements of small member-based organizations that offer basic online services to their members.
Large member-based organizations that offer industry-specific member benefits and play a vital role in connecting their members to employment opportunities or benefits may find limitations with standard solutions. Standard solutions can lack flexibility, leaving organizations constrained within predefined structures that don’t align with their industry-specific workflows and processes. This can lead to inefficient operations, higher operating expenses, decreased member satisfaction, and limited growth potential.
Harnessing the Power of Custom Applications
A custom application, precisely tailored to address the challenges faced by large membership-based organizations, emerges as the ideal solution. Here’s why these organizations should consider investing in custom software:
Off-the-shelf solutions often require organizations to adapt their processes to fit the software. In contrast, custom applications align precisely with the organization’s existing workflows, eliminating unnecessary hurdles and streamlining operations. This enhanced efficiency allows leadership to focus on strategic initiatives rather than getting bogged down by operational inefficiencies.
Scalability and Flexibility
Membership-based organizations are not stagnant entities; they grow and evolve with time. Custom applications are designed to scale seamlessly as the organization expands, accommodating new members and adapting to changing requirements.
Personalized Member Experience
Tailored applications enable organizations to provide a more personalized and member-centric experience. Members can have access to relevant information, resources, and services based on their unique profiles, enhancing engagement and collaboration tools, training tools, and overall satisfaction.
Custom applications can be equipped with robust analytics and reporting features. This ensures members can search for information with ease on the online platform, with customized filters and advanced search functionality, as well as allowing members to extract data in multiple usable formats. Additionally, the analytics-enabled platform allows leadership to gain valuable insights into member behaviour, preferences, and overall organizational performance.
Pain Points of Legacy Membership Portals
If your organization is struggling with an archaic membership portal, it’s time to address these issues and embrace a modern solution that caters to your unique requirements and sizable membership base.
Outdated User Experience and Lack of Mobility
Legacy portals often lack modern design and are not optimized for mobile devices, making it challenging for members to access crucial information on the go.
Outdated Member Profiles
A Frustrating Challenge: Creating and updating member profiles should be a straightforward process, but legacy portals present numerous obstacles. Most of these outdated systems do not support modern digital assets like video files or pictures, restricting members from showcasing their achievements and skills effectively and the ability to link profiles to social media accounts.
Ineffective Search Functionality
Navigating through a sea of disorganized content can be a time-consuming and frustrating experience, discouraging members from utilizing the portal to its fullest extent.
High Volume of Manual Tasks: From managing member approvals to handling payment collections and supporting member inquiries, these tedious processes can consume valuable time and resources. The lack of automation and streamlined workflows hampers administrative efficiency.
Customized Reporting Woes
Legacy membership portals often lack the capability to generate and download customized reports in usable formats, hindering an organization’s growth and limiting its potential to thrive.
Many member-based organizations encounter challenges in managing their operations, member expectations, and web-facing content due to the existence of multiple independent systems. This results in administrative staff having to perform repetitive tasks across various systems to ensure consistent and accurate member status and profile information. For instance, they may need to update member data in multiple platforms or databases.
Additionally, it is common for member-based systems to operate separately from internal systems and payment processing. As a consequence, administration staff often find themselves working in multiple systems to handle different aspects of their operations.
AMS – Agency Management Software Serves Two Stakeholders
Association Management Software (AMS) plays a pivotal role in the effective functioning of associations, providing valuable support to two essential stakeholders: the members and the administration. This robust software system is specifically designed to cater to the unique requirements of each group, facilitating a harmonious relationship between them while optimizing overall operations. Let’s break down how they serve both members and the administration.
Personalization at its Finest
With custom AMS, you create a personalized experience for each member, from a tailored dashboard showcasing relevant information to custom communication settings.
User-friendly interfaces and intuitive navigation make it easy for members to access resources, register for events, and engage in meaningful discussions.
A custom AMS fosters a sense of community by enabling members to connect and collaborate effortlessly.
Access to Exclusive Benefits
With custom AMS, you can create and manage member-only resources, discounts, and opportunities, adding value to their membership and incentivizing continued engagement.
Deliver Seamless Member Journey
The primary goal of the application and mobile apps for the association should be to create a user-friendly and efficient experience for its members. To achieve this, the focus should be on providing a seamless process to complete key tasks, such as looking for jobs, accessing benefits, and filing complaints. The design of the app should be centred around the member journey, understanding their needs and preferences, and tailoring the user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) accordingly.
Here are some key points to consider:
Seamless Process: The application should streamline the processes for members, making it easy and intuitive to perform essential tasks. Avoid complex or unnecessary steps that might hinder the user experience.
Key Tasks: Identify the most important tasks that association members frequently engage in. These could include job searching, accessing benefits like insurance or discounts, and registering complaints or inquiries. Ensure that these tasks are front and center in the app’s design.
Member Journey: Study and understand the typical journey that association members undertake when using the app. This involves identifying the different touchpoints and interactions they have with the application from start to finish. By doing so, you can optimize the app to meet their needs at every stage.
Personalization: Offer personalized experiences based on each member’s preferences and behaviour. For instance, the app can remember a member’s search history for job postings and recommend relevant opportunities.
Intuitive Navigation: Design the app’s navigation in a user-friendly manner. Use clear labels, icons, and menus to help users easily find what they are looking for. Avoid clutter and keep the interface clean and uncluttered.
Accessibility: Ensure that the app is accessible to all members, including those with disabilities. Consider incorporating features like voice commands and high-contrast modes for visually impaired users.
Responsive Design: The app should adapt seamlessly to various devices and screen sizes, such as smartphones and tablets, to cater to the diverse preferences of members.
Error Handling: Implement informative error messages that guide users when they encounter issues or mistakes while using the app.
Feedback Mechanism: Provide a simple way for members to offer feedback or report problems, so you can continually improve the app based on their input.
Regular Updates: Keep the app up to date with the latest features, bug fixes, and security enhancements to ensure a smooth and secure user experience.
By incorporating these principles into the design and development of the application, you can create an app that genuinely caters to the needs of the association’s members, making their interaction with the organization more convenient and enjoyable.
Industry & Organization-Specific Functions to Support Operations
With custom AMS, you have the freedom to mould the software according to your specific needs, from setting up contract agreement-specific processes, approval processes, member information validation tools, and personalized member engagement tools to tailored communication interfaces.
Seamless Integration and Scalability
Custom AMS ensures smooth integration with your existing infrastructure, avoiding data silos and providing a comprehensive overview.
Enhanced Member Experience
A custom AMS fosters a superior member experience by delivering personalized content, efficient event registrations, targeted communication, and member-exclusive benefits. For example, for unions, the customized system can help members navigate approval processes with educational/government bodies, by giving them tools/workflows/instructions/checklists on how to complete necessary documentation, streamline application submissions, and stay updated on the progress.
Data-Driven Decision Making
A tailored AMS offers a reporting interface with pre-built reports for day-to-day operations, covering outstanding dues, unfinished applications, and more. With convenient pre-set and customized filters, the application enhances operational efficiencies, providing tailored insights for informed decision-making and improved overall performance.
Tailored to Allow Global and Local Governance
Many unions, associations, and similar organizations are structured with multiple tiers, often comprising a Global or National level, followed by divisional or local chapters. The purpose of this tiered structure is to establish a cohesive network that allows for efficient governance and decision-making at various levels.
To ensure consistency and brand integrity across the organization, a customized tool is employed. This tool empowers the National or Parent level to define essential design and governance parameters that apply to all chapters within the organization. For instance, the national office might oversee the creation of the organization’s logo, website layout, and colour scheme. By setting these standardized elements at the national level, a unified identity is established for the entire organization.
However, recognizing the unique needs and contexts of individual local and divisional chapters, the tool also provides a degree of flexibility. While certain design elements and menu structures may be required to maintain consistency across all chapters, local and divisional entities have the freedom to make specific customizations within the framework set by the parent organization. For example, local chapters can modify submenus or add additional pages to tailor their online presence to their specific audiences or operational requirements.
The flexibility extends beyond design aspects and encompasses broader aspects of governance as well. Contract rules, workflows, and permissions can be centrally managed by the national office, ensuring adherence to overarching organizational policies and guidelines. However, the system also allows room for local and divisional chapters to adapt and fine-tune these parameters to suit their unique needs and circumstances.
This approach strikes a balance between centralized control and localized autonomy, promoting organizational coherence while acknowledging the diversity and distinctiveness of each chapter within the union or association. By harnessing the power of this customized tool, unions and associations can foster collaboration, improve communication, and leverage the collective strength of their multi-tiered structure to achieve their shared goals more effectively.
When is a Customized Member Portal Beneficial?
Elevating the Member Experience
A Customized Member Portal enables you to deliver a unique and memorable experience, making your organization the go-to choice for prospective members and keeping your existing members engaged and loyal. Help members complete critical steps seamlessly, whether it’s signing up or finding employment through the organization, renewing a contract, filing a complaint or making recommendations. It is important to note that many organizations with members are unions. Which can be the only means for members to find jobs, file complaints, get insurance, etc.
Specific Functionality to Serve, Attract, and Retain Members
In a landscape where one-size-fits-all solutions fall short, a Customized Member Portal empowers your organization with specific functionalities that align precisely with your goals.
Building a Strong Brand Presence
A Customized Member Portal serves as an extension of your brand, embodying your organization’s values, mission, and culture.
Advanced Search Functionality
With advanced search functionality, a Customized Member Portal allows members to find what they need quickly and effortlessly.
What Is the Best Way to Start a Legacy Portal Members Modernization Project?
Listen to Your Members and Administrators
Understand the pain points and expectations of your members and administrators by creating a neutral environment for them to provide feedback.
Conduct Comprehensive Research
Study association case studies with successful modernization projects to ensure your approach aligns with industry best practices.
Create a Realistic Digital Transformation Roadmap
Outline the various stages of the modernization project, along with major workstreams, detailed timelines, strategic goals, roles and responsibilities of team members, decision escalation process, budget management plan, and critical milestones. Key assumptions should also be outlined, as well as a proactive strategy for identifying and mitigating risks.
Have a forefront Change Management
Legacy applications will impact a large number of users/members. Engage the members from the start and collect input throughout the journey. At a minimum, a good change management strategy considers:
- § Ensure a robust project communication plan is established at the start of the project.
- § Identify and engage key stakeholder engagement throughout the project duration to ensure feedback on website design functionality is captured from the start of the project and key stakeholders are engaged in testing.
- § Validate the training tools and approaches designed will accommodate the end-users.
- § Facilitate Go-Live transition management and alignment of expectations.
- § Proactive identify change management-related tasks and facilitate discussions to mitigate plans.
Prioritize Functionality for Release
Take a phased approach and prioritize functionalities based on critical needs and member feedback.
Gain Budget Approval and Resource Availability
Secure the necessary budget approvals and ensure the required resources are available to execute the project efficiently.
Implement Careful Planning
Avoid conflicts with other major initiatives, and establish a risk management strategy to mitigate potential challenges during implementation.
By addressing these key questions and considerations, membership-based organizations can embark on a successful journey of modernizing their legacy CMS/AMS systems and provide a superior member experience in today’s dynamic digital landscape.
Elevate your members’ experience by gauging their perceptions of your association. A crucial aspect of this lies in the appeal and functionality of your association app. Partner with Mantrax Software Solutions to guarantee the delivery of exceptional value, unveiling an instinctive app tailored to your audience or members. Lay the groundwork for future expansion, propelling your mission forward with confidence. Book a discovery call with us today.