Welcome to our new blog series called "Best-In-Class" where we will discuss an Association Management System feature that is. . . well. . . the best in their class of features that AMSs provide (in The AMS Guy’s opinion.) We will showcase a different feature that stands above the rest in each post and give a synopsis of why. Kicking off our new series is the Admin-Based Customizable Dashboards.
Your Executive Director is data-driven. She's a person that just has to know the numbers and know them often! So she calls up the membership department daily and interrupts membership operations to get a briefing on the current status of the membership. She rings up the development team randomly and disrupts their flow just to get an update on fundraising/sponsorships. She has a standing weekly meeting with the accounting team that takes them away from crunching the numbers just to show her the numbers. But what if there was a way to give your ED instant access to all of the data she needs in realtime!?! Sounds like the beginning of a great commercial, right? Well if this was a commercial, then the title of this post would definitely be the product!
Admin-Based Customizable Dashboards provide great benefits to associations. These benefits can be summarized by breaking down the components of the term (in reverse order.)
Dashboard - A dashboard is a graphical user interface that provides an at-a-glance view of your key metrics and performance indicators. Simply put, it is a summary of your relevant data. Yes, it is a report, but it's a little more powerful than an AMS's reporting tool. (Actually, it is multiple reports!) What makes it more powerful is that it provides real-time data at the click of a button! Think of it as more of a progress report. Once you set your dashboard up, the system re-runs the same reports and summarizes the information for you every time you access it. Some dashboards even allow you to drill down into the data to find further insights! The only pitfall to a dashboard is that your parameters will stay the same and any changes you make to your dashboard will change the data it displays forever. For example, if your dashboard only shows you active members, and, as a one-off, you need to know who is about to expire in the next month, don't go to your dashboard for the information and don't modify it; run a report. Speaking of setting up and modifying your dashboard. . .
Customizable - This word is very important in the term because there are some AMS vendors with dashboards that provide a great summary of information, but you (the administrator) can't create, manage, or control the data that it displays. In The AMS Guy's opinion, this is not "Best-In-Class." To receive that title, an association's staff has to be able to control the data that the dashboard displays. It doesn't matter how in tune a vendor is with its customers and their needs, there will be associations that need more out of the dashboard than a vendor can account for. So when we say "customizable," we are really talking about putting the power in the administrators' hands to create the data summaries that they need.
Admin-Based - What elevates this feature to become the first installment in our "Best-In-Class" series is the Admin-Based component, which simply means that every administrator gets their own customizable dashboard. This component is extremely powerful because even inside an association, the membership team's data needs are different than the publications team, and the development team, or finance. The needs can be different even inside a department. For example, your Director of Membership may want to see a summary of all of the organization's membership broken down by member type, while the College Coordinator is interested in seeing the college memberships broken down by school. So dashboards that are admin-based allows each individual to place the most relevant data to his/her operations at their fingertips.
Let's go back to the scenario that we painted to open this blog post. In the case of that organization, not only could the membership department, development team, and accounting team have their relevant data at their fingertips, but with Admin-Based Customizable Dashboards, the Executive Director can have data from all of those departments made available on her dashboard. You can even save the dashboard as her browser homepage and keep her logged into the system on her work computer. Then, whenever she opens her browser. . . BAM. . she is hit with the data! So now she doesn't have to interrupt membership operations, disrupt the development team's flow, or take the accounting team away from crunching the numbers just to get the numbers!