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OpenWater Case Study: How We Work with ASAE

OpenWater Case Study: How We Work with ASAE


ASAE, and how OpenWater consolidates online applications into a Single Platform to eliminate organizational challenges


How ASAE Came to OpenWater

When ASAE first started working with OpenWater, it was for a single program – the Gold Circle Awards in 2016. A professional society that represents both individual association professionals and organizations that employ them, ASAE boasts a membership of over 42,000 individual members, representing 7,300 unique organizations in the association industry. In an organization like that where multiple programs are being rolled out on a semi-regular basis, not having a single solution to manage all their applications was becoming more and more of a problem.

To paint a picture, in order to apply for a program, applicants had to physically mail in 6 copies of their materials so that each judge could review a copy, to which each judge then had to make sure that they had the correct pile for them to review and send back. The process was entirely too time-consuming to make sure everything was working on the front end – one administrator recalls, at one point they had to hire interns or temps that solely came in for the purpose of sorting through all the workload.


“For years we had been struggling to make things work, and OpenWater was just much easier. It would take hours on end for us to do all of the work that it took for Gold Circles to work seamlessly on the front end. At one time we were getting interns or temps to come in and help us. Now we don’t need it.”

Sherelle Faulkner Manager, Quality Assurance Testing & Training, IT ASAE


The Gold Circle Awards isn’t the only program ASAE administers on a year-round basis either; ASAE administers many different programs to serve its members, including conferences, continued learning opportunities, grants, fellowships, and member recognition awards. The fact that all these programs were being handled with a mix of different tools like email, excel, and other internally built web forms meant that members not only had a compromised experience submitting their applications, there was distraction on the reviewers’ end from selecting the best submissions, and of course, pain on the administrator’s side on keeping track of data from year to year.


The OpenWater Solution to ASAE’s Challenges

Recognizing the difficulties presented by a clunky combination of email-based application tools, OpenWater presented a solution to ASAE where the entire process would be moved to a cloud-based digital experience. Where originally applicants had to physically mail in separate copies of their application for different reviewers, with OpenWater, they could upload and submit all of their required materials in a one-stop application portal. Those applications could then be reviewed by ASAE reviewers on the same portal, all under the monitor of program administrators with access to OpenWater’s birds-eye admin dashboard. It was a deceptively simple solution.

After successfully implementing OpenWater for the Golden Circle Awards, ASAE started using OpenWater for its various other programs – including its member recognition awards, fellowship applications, board of director nominations for the ASAE Foundation, Grant Proposals, and Continuing Education (CAE) Exams. So far, ASAE runs over 50 of its programs on OpenWater, with over 2,131 applications processed since the beginning of their partnership.


Added Benefits with Integrations 

On top of its functionality as a one-stop solution for associations, OpenWater goes a step beyond the rest with its integrations capabilities. OpenWater’s integration with Aptify allowed for all of ASAE’s AMS (Association Management System) data to be synced to OpenWater directly. And what does this mean for ASAE Members? It means that members can not only enjoy the same membership credentials to access application forms that they would for any ASAE materials, but also keep a record of all programs they are entering. Same goes for the ASAE staff, where they can use the integration to have a birds-eye view of what program a member is entering. Once again, seems simple enough!


The Future of the OpenWater Growth Stack

As adopters of the OpenWater Growth Stack Plan, ASAE currently has full access to use OpenWater for an unlimited number of programs. Because they will be running dozens rather than just a few programs on OpenWater, ASAE is also in the process of exploring options to use OpenWater to create a “one-stop-shop” for all their applications, so that members have a single place to go for all of their programs.


“Before OpenWater, we struggled a bit managing our numerous awards programs. We had a combination of email based applications and home built web – based forms that lacked the simplicity and sophistication our members and staff deserved ”

Reggie Henry, CAE Chief Information & Engagement Officer ASAE


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