Although every association’s digital transformation will look different, iMIS is reliably at the center, because it's designed with your association...
It’s Not You, It’s Your Data Silos
Here’s how to eliminate data silos forever with association software that delivers a Single Source of Truth about all your association member interactions.
Data silos. Disparate systems. Data hoarding. Whatever term you want to use, we’ve all been held hostage to software applications that don’t talk to each other and force staff to access numerous isolated data sources to try to piece together a comprehensive record of member interactions. It’s frustrating, time-consuming, and a waste of resources.
But while many organizations have nearly given up and accepted this as a natural part of association life, it doesn’t have to be. Most of the issues you’re experiencing are caused by an inadequate core association software system. If you can tackle that, you can eliminate your data silos for good. Let’s take a closer look.
Take a deeper dive: Download our “It’s Not You, It’s Your Data Silos” whitepaper.
How Data Silos are Affecting Your Association Members
As annoying as data silos can be for you and your staff, many association professionals don’t fully grasp the tremendous toll an inadequate system can have on members. How many of the following issues are you facing right now?
You’re Not Able to Provide Members with the Personalized Web Content They Want
Dynamic, tailored content is essential to keeping members interested and engaged. But if your website and database don’t communicate, you’re going to serve up one-size-fits-all content that will frustrate your members and put your retention rates in jeopardy.
You Can’t Deliver the Answers Members Need When They Need Them
When systems aren’t integrated, you don’t have a 360° view of your members. If your staff can’t respond quickly to members’ questions about events, dues status, product purchases, etc., etc., members will be (rightfully) annoyed.
Member Billing is Often Wrong
Because your accounting system and association software isn’t integrated, it can be incredibly difficult to generate accurate invoices, particularly if you have complex billing scenarios. Not much annoys a member more than receiving an invoice that isn’t right.
Members Can’t Update Their Own Information
No one can update profile information faster and more accurately than the members themselves. If you can’t empower them to do this (and they have to keep calling or emailing you to request updates that don’t get made across all systems), member frustration will grow and retention could decline.
You Can’t Respond Quickly Enough to New Trends and Shifting Member Needs
With 24-hour news cycles and a vast amount of information available on the web, members are increasingly used to accessing the information they need within seconds. So if it takes weeks for your IT department to post new content and resources, members are going to grow impatient. Your association software needs to help you keep pace with the changing tides.
What’s the Answer? Association Software with a Single Source of Truth (SSoT)
A Single Source of Truth (SSoT) brings all the data across your association into one centralized cloud-based system that can be accessed at any time, from anywhere. An SSoT:
Consolidates All Your Data in One Association Software Platform
With a Single Source of Truth, your website, member data, and accounting system are one. You have a comprehensive view of all interactions with your members — such as joins, renewals, event registrations and product purchases — at your fingertips, in one database.
Works for Organizations of All Types and Sizes
You don’t have to have to be a large association with hundreds of employees to access a Single Source of Truth. There are also many affordable all-in-one solutions on the market today for smaller organizations that can provide the comprehensive view of your membership you need.
Provides Top-Level Security You Can Trust
Because a true SSoT is cloud-based, you and your staff can access your data from anywhere while still enjoying exceptional levels of security that you likely couldn’t deliver using your own in-house server. Your data is protected and more accessible than ever.
Relieves Implementation Hassles
A purpose-built association software system is designed just for your particular needs and doesn’t require customization. This reduces costs, makes your association nimbler, and frees up staff to focus on members instead of administrative tasks. But if you have special needs, the right SSoT will offer tight, two-way integration to today’s latest specialty applications.
What You Can Accomplish with an SSoT
One system for everything can be an incredibly powerful resource you can use to:
Create an Amazing, Personalized Member Experience
Members like to feel seen and heard. One of the best ways to achieve this is by serving up content that is personalized to their specific needs and interests. You can easily do this with the right association software, as well as:
- Provide convenient self-service options to update their profiles and access your resources
- Allow members to pay dues, buy products and register for events in one transaction
- Offer Single Sign-On (SSO) so members only have to remember one password
Retain More of Your Members
By increasing member engagement, you’re building a stronger, lasting relationship. Members who are engaged are much more likely to renew their memberships. They’re also more likely to attend events, take your courses, and buy your products — all of which increases your non-dues revenue. Check out this video from MemberWise’s “Learn” series about the link between engagement and retention.
Access Real-Time Data You Can Rely on
With a 360° view of your members — in real time — you have extensive business intelligence you can use to spot trends, identify top issues members care about, develop member personas, and predict member behavior. This also helps you become a “Learning Organization” and can lead to continuous performance improvement.
Take Advantage of Native Functionality
Association software that’s purpose-built for membership organizations doesn’t need customization that can increase your costs and slow you down. And — because your SSoT is in the cloud — you can relax knowing all the data you need is secure and accessible from anywhere.
Reduce Manual Data Reentry
Because you have one system that integrates your member data, website, accounting, and more, you only have to enter data once. So, your staff is more efficient and they have more time to focus on your members.
Stop Waiting for IT
By empowering your staff with association software that provides comprehensive, real-time data, they can access dynamic dashboards to keep tabs on your members’ needs and generate their own reports rather than relying on IT to produce them.
Seamlessly Integrate with Best-of-Breed Applications
With any organization, there may still be times when you need a specialty app — this is where the right association software is indispensable. An Engagement Management System (EMS) that’s designed for membership organizations, for example, can be easily tailored with tight, “no-code integrations” to Best-of-Breed applications.
Eliminate Custom Coding
Flexibility is crucial. You need a system that allows your staff to modify the database structure, business logic/workflows and user interfaces without custom coding or development. Your next association software should allow you to deploy pre-built and configurable widgets and build new modules, interfaces, and other functionality without coding.
Leverage an Open API
Look for association software that offers an open REST API that’s fully documented. It needs to provide full support for industry-standard integration platforms and out-of-the-box (OOTB) support for Single Sign-On, Open ID, and Identity Server integrations.
Avoid Hidden Fees
If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. When considering new association software, be sure to look at the total cost of ownership and inquire about hidden costs. For instance, usage fees — including excess API calls and data storage — can dramatically raise your system costs. Insist on fixed costs that will fit into your budget.
Learn more about building your ideal SSoT with our “It’s Not You, It's Your Data Silos” whitepaper.
How You Can Select the Perfect Association Software System
There are many factors that go into identifying the right system for your particular organization. But we’ve rounded up the best practices used by the most successful associations to help you on your way:
Start with Your Digital Transformation Plan
Your business strategy needs to drive your technology decisions — so you need a solid digital transformation plan that maps out what you’ll need from your association software. The plan doesn’t need to be complex; sometimes the best approach is to start out simple and expand later.
→ Identify Your Key Objectives
You probably have plenty of important objectives – increasing engagement, boosting retention, attracting more new members, etc., etc. But it’s important to choose a few and prioritize them so you can generate consensus and build excitement around achieving them.
→ Establish Goals that are Meaningful — To You
Measurement can be scary. We get it. What’s most important is that you start off with attainable goals and celebrate the small wins along the way. Every organization is different and it’s critical that the goals you set mean something to your particular association. This can include qualitative objectives but don’t forget hard-and-fast numbers so you can measure your progress.
→ Deliver on a Killer Member Value Proposition
Member satisfaction is vital for any association. So it’s important that your digital transformation plan looks at how you’re providing value and how you can do it even better. The best way to do this is to ask your members what they want. The pandemic forced associations to provide an exceptional member experience almost exclusively online and while the world is opening up a bit, a strong digital presence will be required for many years to come.
→ Regularly Update Your Plan
Just remember that your strategy will never be finished — it’s a living, breathing document that will evolve as your organization evolves. Here are a few tips on digital transformation to get you started.
Find a Purpose-Built System with a Strong Core
The right member management platform, such as an Engagement Management System (EMS), needs to support the way your particular association works. Most importantly, you need a system designed for associations that offers native functionality. There are 3 critical components to look for:
- Robust Member Management: You need to be able to track all member interactions in a single record, including dues, committee assignments, volunteer positions, event registrations, professional education, disciplinary decisions, etc.
- Dynamic Website Management: Members engage with you on a daily basis through your public website and portals — these must be personalized, user-friendly and mobile-ready so members can access your resources from anywhere.
- Built-in Accounting & Finance: If your accounting system isn’t integrating with your member database, you’re only getting half the story. You need full integration to ensure your billing is accurate and you have a 360° view of your members.
Build Your Tech Stack with the Right Integration Tools
The right association software should offer the embedded member-centric functionality you need to manage events, professional education, advertising, product sales, marketing and communications, workflow automation, and more.
But it also needs to be extensible and capable of integrating with the latest applications to provide the specialized solution support you need. Look for a system that offers:
- Integration with Best-of-Breed solutions designed for the non-profit market
- No-code integrations to avoid one-off bridges and customizations
- An open API so you can build your own integrations
- Single Sign-On (SSO) so members only have to remember one login
Read our tips for creating the ultimate association tech stack.
Choose Exceptional Partners
Microsoft Azure is the top cloud-computing platform — look for an association software system that’s built on Azure, can support the MS Power Business platform, and will integrate your system with other Microsoft applications.
- Data silos are doing more damage than you knew — they can affect engagement, retention, and your bottom line.
- To eliminate silos, you need association software that delivers a Single Source of Truth (SSoT) and gives you a 360° view of your members.
- Download our complimentary data silos whitepaper to learn the ins and outs of an SSoT.
- If your current association software system can’t provide an SSoT, look for one that’s purpose-built for associations with core functionality and the flexibility to tightly integrate with Best-of-Breed applications.
- Contact us to schedule a demo of the iMIS Engagement Management System to learn more about how it can help you establish your own SSoT.