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Observations at AUDC – Part 2

Abila hosted two sessions on the first day of AUDC, one focused on the netFORUM Pro roadmap, the other on Enterprise roadmap. Here were some notable takeaways from these sessions:

netFORUM Pro

Over the course of the next two years, Abila will be focusing on the user experience from both the staff side and the customer side. To that end, Abila has already begun implementing live usability studies with clients (40 were being conducted at AUDC). In addition to the usability studies, Abila is moving to a more formal agile development process, including two week sprints in which customers will actually be involved in reviewing the builds as they happen. Both of these are very welcome improvements to the product development, and I’ll be watching carefully over the course of the next year to see how this affects the usability of the Pro product.

Another welcome addition will be development of the A-Score tool within the Pro product. Abila’s A-Score tool already exists in netFORUM. It is a very slick and powerful set of workflows within netFORUM that allows netFORUM users to track engagement among members and customers. It is very configurable and allows each association to define its own set of scores and weights. Bringing this to the Pro product will make it a much more useful and powerful AMS.

netFORUM Enterprise

The roadmap for the Enterprise product over the course of the next three years has quite a few functional additions. Here were improvements that I found most interesting:

  • Saved credit cards. With this functionality, members and customers will be able to choose to “store” a credit card with your association, thus allowing them to choose it during checkout and/or use it for recurring charges. I’m seeing this request more often from my clients, so it’s a positive development for the product.
  • Conflict of interest management. This is really a survey tool on steroids, but again, something that I’m seeing a need for more often. In a nutshell, this functionality will allow associations to create conflict of interest forms that their members and customers can complete online, with all data being collected in netFORUM against an individual’s record. I can see this being very beneficial to certain types of associations.
  • Adding help text and support text at the field level. What this means is that on the staff-facing side, each association can put their own text descriptions on fields to help users understand what the field is used for and how data should be entered into that field. This is a great idea, and several AMS packages on the market already have this functionality, but more should.

And finally, Abila announced several months ago that they were stopping development of the MemberFuse community product that Avectra began selling a couple of years ago. At this session we learned that Abila and HigherLogic will be partnering to offer netFORUM users (both Pro and Enterprise) the HigherLogic tool as a replacement for MemberFuse. Details of how these conversions will take place remain to be seen, but I view this as a positive development, as most of my clients using HigherLogic are generally pleased with the product.

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“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
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Jack Chiasson, CMP Executive Director
National Association of Life Brokerage Agencies

“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

Mary Pat Paris
International Registration Plan

“This is the second database implementation we’ve done since I have been at Western Arts Alliance (WAA). The first I did on my own. This time we engaged Wes Trochlil as our database planning consultant. Let me tell you, this process is a whole lot easier having Wes on your team! For a small association like WAA, it’s tempting for board and EDs to question the justification and expense of a database planning consultant. But it’s the small associations that need Effective Database Management the most. Wes strengthened our planning process, clarified our needs requirements, helped us steer around solutions that couldn’t meet our objectives, and saved us money in the long haul.”

Tim Wilson, Executive Director
Western Arts Alliance

Tim Wilson
Western Arts Alliance
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