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The One New Year’s Resolution Every Association Should Make
By Meghan Durbin | January 13, 2021

As we close 2020 and move into 2021, association leaders may be looking for ways to increase their organizational efficiencies – a kind of new year’s resolution. Association leaders should resolve to review how technology supports the organization’s processes. Unfortunately, many organizations delay examining their use of technology, taking an “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach, not recognizing that their current processes may be costing them money. Money, in terms of time and inefficient staff processes. Money in the form of missed opportunities to improve the customer experience, resulting in loss of sales. It can also mean money in terms of loss of members due to bad customer service.

This task may seem daunting, so here are three suggestions for how to go about tackling this initiative:

Review Processes

Many associations have processes that have been in place for 10+ years and have never taken the time to examine how they could become more efficient. Particularly, associations that are leveraging SaaS solutions should note that those vendors regularly release new features. If they’ve not taken the time to review and consider how best to leverage those features, the added value of having a SaaS solution is lost. Taking the time to think through why a specific process is in place and if any steps could be skipped to make the process more efficient could help start your review. Ideally, during the review the organization will identify processes that are no longer necessary or redundant steps by multiple people. Tightening up those processes will provide instant value. Identifying new processes that may further provide value by better leveraging the existing technology will improve overall efficiency for the organization.

Opportunities for Automation

After reviewing processes, consider opportunities for automation by identifying repeatable tasks within those processes. Many AMS’ include workflow automation tools that offer staff ways to run bulk processes instead of requiring staff to take manual steps each time. For example, if your organization is manually renewing memberships, look into your membership system’s ability to run bulk renewals – most association management systems (AMS) offer some form of bulk renewal. If you are manually moving data between two systems (AMS and LMS) – look into the ability to integrate via an API. If staff is sending individual welcome emails to new members, explore the power of your tools to trigger emails to members with individualized content. Most SaaS tools provide a range of features that are not being leveraged by most organizations – taking the time to understand those features can be valuable. It’s like buying a Swiss Army Knife and only using the knife – take the time to explore the other features your tools offer, and you may realize you’re able to do much more.

Identify New Tools

In reviewing your processes, you may find an array of new tools that may benefit the organization’s growth and efficiency. A few examples include:

Centralized Business Intelligence (BI) Tool

Organizations often struggle to have data dispersed across multiple systems. Having a centralized BI tool will allow numerous different data sources to generate a more holistic view of your organization’s information. Having centralized reporting can make the process of generating annual reports, like those often required by the board of directors, a much less arduous task. It can also allow leadership to gather information to make strategic decisions quickly. Ideally, the BI tool will automatically pull data, again to automate processes.

Chatbots

Instead of requiring staff to answer the same email questions over and over, chatbots are a great way to get quick answers to customers. These tools are getting easier to implement, as they combine automation with artificial intelligence to deliver a great user experience. With recent advancements around Salesforce’s Einstein AI, the effort for associations to add a chatbot that can truly enhance the customer experience has significantly decreased.

Integration Platforms

A lot of organizations will do point-to-point integrations, which work well when set-up initially. However, if an organization wants to scale or switch to a new system in the long term, the organization will likely have to rebuild integrations from scratch. An integration platform allows you to be more strategic around your data. An integration platform can ensure data is moving as expected, and if something breaks, you will know before your customers. It also allows organizations to have continuity among their systems.

Additionally, it will take less effort to switch out systems within an integration as the existing connections can be reused to build a new integration. fusionSpan’s fusionConnect is a product that can do just that for associations. fusionConnect is a fully managed cloud-based product with existing connections to most popular systems that today’s associations use. fusionConnect can be deployed rapidly with scalable integration solutions.

The more understanding staff have of their association’s technology, and how that technology fits into their processes, the more efficient the association will be as a whole. Depending on the organization’s size and the number of different technology platforms used, the effort required could make this resolution a bit of a project but a project well worth the effort.

Designing, coding, implementing, and ensuring organizational efficiencies is what fusionSpan specializes in. We’ve helped hundreds of businesses meet their technology goals. We invite you to discover how together, we can leverage intelligent data-driven solutions for your business.

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Meghan joined fusionSpan in August 2019. Meghan works with multiple non-profits to implement customer facing systems. Meghan has five years of experience working in associations. Meghan graduated from Radford University, with a B.S. in Journalism, and also holds a Paralegal Certification from George Mason University.

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