Technology Update -- Money Saving Transitions
by Clara DeRosier, Executive Director
I have a love-hate relationship with technology—pretty common! When it’s working, I can do my job better and more efficiently; but when it isn’t working, I am almost at a standstill and it’s all-consuming! Since technology is such an instrumental part of running a business, we are constantly searching for ways to utilize it better, streamline it, and search for more cost-efficient options. With the amount of competition in the technology space, the ball is in our court. This past year has been filled with technology transitions that have been saving money for the Association.
Database/Website – As an Association that does national business, the database of our customers is quite unique and large. All data needs to be held in a smart (customizable) location where we can easily access it. We have been building this database since the mid-1990s, and connecting it to our public-facing website was the icing on the cake in 2015. The price tag to do this was steep, but it was necessary to serve customers appropriately. With growing competition in the Association Management Software (AMS), we have recently renegotiated our contract with our provider. In 2015, we were put on a shared-hosted environment that we soon found limited our access to data based on security regulations. After many discussions with numerous parties and other AMS providers, we have recently been relocated to our own dedicated server, and our annual price tag will decrease 50% over the next year. We will use the savings to develop the site further, which involves a 3rd-party solutions provider. A few projects on the horizon include an online join process, engagement scoring, and certificate automation.
Gateway/Merchant Processor – Credit card processing fees continue to increase. We analyzed new gateways and merchant processors this year and then transitioned from a rate of 0.56% to 0.35%, which will create a decent savings in overall yearly fees paid out. The customer service with the new company is far superior as well, which is priceless.
Phone Company – We had been with the same phone company for years and our needs were outgrowing the offerings. In June, we transitioned and are now able to answer our desk phones through an app on our mobile device, utilize a chat feature, share screens in the office and set up enhanced voicemail greetings. Our monthly price will remain similar, but we were able to take advantage of a 2-months-free offer. We have recently increased our PCI standards, and the new phone provider made this a possibility. Proactively making the switch decreased the need for an immediate transition or possibly increased fees.
Domain Switch – Our 3rd-party IT managed service provider has suggested we transfer all MEA domains and host through them to ensure quick and easy maintenance. By signing a 3-year agreement for them to host our domains, we will be saving 30% on each domain name.
All of these transitions have come with thoughtful research and extended staff time to implement. With the savings in dollars, we can continue to build out excellent programs and services to serve the industry. Thank you for trusting us as we continue to be good stewards of the Association’s money and your membership dues dollars.
As pre-work for the upcoming strategic plan, a survey will be sent out to get feedback and input on the future of the Association. This is your opportunity to Power MEA into the Future!