August 7, 2017
Every strategic association leader has a critical business question they need to answer. Throughout the years, executives have turned to a variety of sources to get these answers - from intuition to Excel spreadsheets to reports from their Association Management Software (AMS). Reporting is certainly the most advanced option of those three. By taking the data stored in the AMS, executives are able to use reports to answer complex questions about the current state of the business. But, as technology continues to advance, executives are expected to evolve too. Instead of telling their board what happened last quarter, they’ll be expected to present a trajectory for the future of the organization. And that is why reporting is no longer enough - the modern executive needs trends and predictions. Don’t believe me? Read these and tell me if any of these scenarios sound familiar.
In an effort to prove the effectiveness of your organization’s programs to the board, you need to determine your member retention rates. To do this, you pull a membership report from your AMS and manually calculate your monthly retention rate. You do this every month throughout the year and then use Excel to demonstrate how these numbers have changed in hopes of identifying a trend. So, instead of working to create programs or initiatives that could actually retain members, you have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to track down retention information.
Your association counts on the revenue generated by your annual event so it’s imperative that you hit your budgetary goal. You turn to your AMS and you run a report for event registration revenue. You run another report for event sponsorship revenue. You run yet another report for event merchandise sales. You stitch all of this information together and see you’re only 60% of the way to goal. This doesn’t look good, but you remember that last year you had a last minute surge in event registrations two weeks before the event. The problem with this, though, is that there is no report you can pull to show your Executive Director last year’s trend.
The future of your association relies on recruiting and retaining millennial members. In an effort to do this, your marketing team has been hosting local workshops targeted to the younger generation. You log into your AMS and pull a report on member engagement. The question now becomes: Is millennial engagement higher than it was before you began hosting these workshops? You won’t find the answer in your AMS because it does not keep track of how engagement has been trending over time. You do not know how your workshops have impacted overall member engagement.
Reporting is a tried and true method for extracting data, but in order to turn that data into actionable insights requires significant time and effort. Fortunately, modern software can provide business intelligence critical to your organization without all of the headaches.