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.

About Wes Trochlil

For over 30 years, Wes has worked in and with dozens of associations and membership organizations throughout the US, ranging in size from zero staff (all-volunteer) to over 700. In that time Wes has provided a range of consulting services, from general consulting on data management issues to full-scale, association-wide selection and implementation of association management systems.

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