It takes a lot of “stuff” to run an association. The core of your association software suite is probably your Association Management System (AMS), but there are plenty of other technologies your organization will touch in its annual workflow. How many of these can you check off?
- CRMs (like CiviCRM or Salesforce)
- User Directories (such as Auth0, OAuth, or Azure)
- Payment Gateways (as in PayPal, Stripe, or Chase)
- Marketing Software (like Marketo, Mailchimp, or HubSpot)
- Accounting Software (perhaps Quickbooks or Xero)
- Help Desks (like Intercom or Zendesk)
- Email Platforms (Outlook, Zimbra, eM Client)
- Mobile Event Apps (maybe CoreApps or GuideBook)
- Web Analytics (Google Analytics, anyone?)
The list could go on—we haven’t even mentioned abstract management systems like OpenWater. After a while, the ever-amassing collection can make you start to feel like Navin Johnson in Steve Martin’s The Jerk: “And that’s all I need… And this!”
Software Integrations Create Equilibrium
The key to juggling all of these disparate technologies lies in integrations. There are a lot of advantages to well-integrated tech (both for your AMS and elsewhere):
- You can hand off security concerns to certified experts. For example, by collecting dues with an integrated payment gateway rather than through your own jury-rigged system.
- Integrations streamline your workflow. Things move quickly when each software you touch already knows you and accesses pre-existing data: less juggling logins, less rekeying info, and less redundancy.
- It’s easier to get data into software that’s better equipped to use it. You might be able to reconcile invoices in your AMS, but it’s far easier to keep your books (in detail) with an easy way to transfer financial info out to accounting software. The same could be said for marketing, customer service, or abstract management.
The right integrations make data more secure, more convenient, and more effective. In fact, software that doesn’t play well with others is a major red flag when you’re comparing association software. Insular association software only makes life harder in the long run.
This is why we’re always working on expanding the robust lineup of integrations we offer in OpenWater (including custom SQL integrations).
Bring All That Association Software Together
While you’re working your way through the list at the top of this article, you’ll do yourself a favor by inquiring about the integrations each platform can handle. It’s not enough to ask, “do you integrate with Salesforce?” What exactly can the software push or pull from the integrated system? Integrations should include complex API interfaces that handle:
- Person and Info Lookups: This is a given, especially when interfacing with a database. Our OpenWater software often uses person lookups to verify contact data vs. their profiles in user databases, for example.
- Use Pre-Existing Contact Lists: You save an immense amount of time if each system has access to the same contact lists. We’ve seen users populate a reviewer list in OpenWater’s abstract review portal with contacts from an email list in their marketing software.
- Single Sign-On: There’s nothing more frustrating in the technology balancing act than collecting a pile of unique login credentials. Your association staff and members will appreciate the ability to use one familiar login to access whatever they need.
- Bi-Directional Data Syncing: When you make a change in one system, it cuts out the rekeying runaround (and human error) if the same changes occur simultaneously in all integrated software.
- Push or Pull Data in Real Time: For instance, OpenWater can integrate with an event app to share your schedule. This works best when last-minute changes push to the app immediately.
Our OpenWater API client even gives you options for managing the entire program life cycle via API. We put a walkthrough on GitHub to help your development team create users, submit to programs, forward to rounds, assign judges, update fields, and pull data all via our robust REST API. The responsiveness and flexibility of full API integrations like these make your tech balancing act a cinch.