Migrating to a Modern Membership Management System
John F. Abel, IASS Website Committee Co-Chair
Technology services: Wild Apricot
About the International Association for Spatial Structures
The International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures (IASS), founded in 1959, is a non-profit professional organization of engineers, architects, builders and academics. It has as its goal the achievement of further progress through an interchange of ideas among all those interested in lightweight structural systems such as lattice, tension, membrane, and shell structures.
Choosing a New Membership Management System
IASS was in a tough spot.
Their legacy website and database system were no longer supported by the original developer. It became impossible to make improvements and changes to their website design and membership database, so the organization began to evaluate Wild Apricot. They had some specific requirements around the ease of use, flexibility of membership levels and membership renewal policies. They also wanted to preserve their legacy membership database structure. Like many organizations that migrate from a legacy system, IASS had no one on their transition team with a professional background in the art and science of website-based membership management systems. They needed help from an experienced consultant with a deep understanding of Wild Apricot and chose NewPath. NewPath guided the organization from database design to data migration and from website testing to launch.
Rethinking How Resources are Used Across the World
The changes to the organization are subtle, but wide-ranging. IASS has been effectively stimulated to rethink how they allocate administrative and information functions among their staff and volunteers. IASS is an international organization with staff at its headquarters in Madrid and officers in North America, Asia and Europe. Wild Apricot effectively allows people across multiple geographical locations to take administrative ownership of various roles such as maintaining public and members-only website pages.
Members from all around the world can easily access the website, update their profile, maintain their membership, and access documents and publications. Working groups across multiple specializations can assemble their documents online in a password protected portal, only available to active members who are granted access.
Most importantly, the system is maintained by members with little to no technical expertise beyond knowing how Wild Apricot functions.
Knowledge Transfer Helps Everyone
During the implementation of the project, NewPath staff worked closely with the website committee to migrate and build the new system. The NewPath team obtained the legacy IASS database and successfully migrated information that was difficult to enter by hand. The team worked hard to integrate a third-party publication management system that enabled members to quickly login with one account and access an external system without having to login again.
The website design adapted a look and feel that was previously introduced by a graphic designer before the project started. The design and migration were punctuated with weekly web conference calls where IASS staff learned about Wild Apricot capabilities and were mentored by the NewPath team so that IASS could take advantage of all of Wild Apricot's capabilities – and in some cases extend them.
“NewPath helped us move off our old, unsupported platform into a modern membership management system. When our developer disappeared, NewPath saved us. And helped us clean up our data too!” John Abel, Co-Chair Website Committee, International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures