Four Takeaways from a Tech Transition

By Donna Oser posted 02-18-2021 08:26


Women shopping online
MSAE is putting the final touches on a technology transition that resulted in a new website, content management system, and online community. Many fellow associations must be involved in similar endeavors because we've received multiple inquiries from members asking about how it went and what advice we might share in the short time since the soft launch of the new website. While we don't possess any specialized expertise in this area, we are happy to share so that others may benefit from our experience. 

The project includes integration with our association management system and branding (skinning) of several related web platforms. While there were plenty of hard lessons learned along the way, here are the most significant: 

  1. If possible, before contracting for the project, clean up the database you'll be integrating with and carefully document the functions and parameters of relationships and data fields. Realize that your association may have customized its system or implemented an out-of-the-box system in an unexpected way, e.g., what do fields like 'Active' mean? How will/are security and/or membership levels assigned? Armed with this information, you'll be better prepared to design a frictionless experience for your members and end-users.
  2. When contracting for a project that involves integration with other systems, request a detailed description of the integration's scope and extent before signing on the dotted line. Clarity is essential. Specifically, what data will be shared between systems? Will the data be pushed one-way or both ways? How frequently will data be shared between systems, e.g., five minutes, daily, etc.? 
  3. Require regular group meetings of representatives from the various systems (AMS, web development company, community platform) to coordinate key aspects of the project and troubleshoot collaboratively. This also reduces blame shift between companies.
  4. Document the various customer types you serve and the online journeys you expect them to make among the systems. Be mindful of every point of connection between the systems. Which system will handle login? How will credentials be handled when a user crosses into another system? What happens when a user updates their information? When a user finishes a transaction, what URL will they be sent to? Documenting these journeys will allow you to improve the user experience, make your expectations clear to vendors, and provide clear guidance for testing the user interface.  

When it comes to online experiences, today's association members have high expectations. A hiccough between systems can mean a lost sale or, worse yet, a lost member. We're not there yet, but MSAE is working diligently to provide a frictionless online experience for our members. 

Join us on February 24 to learn how to improve online experiences for members! 

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels