In our "Best-In-Class" blog series we 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. In this entry, we discuss Calculated Fields.
Data - such a powerful and important commodity in our industry, but it can be extremely hard to collect. Asking redundant questions may cause individuals to give you the side-eye 😒. Asking too many questions can make your forms overwhelming and turn people away. Fortunately, some data opens the door for you to determine other data. This allows you to minimize the "points of data entry", but "maximize the points of information." Data systems put this concept into action via Calculated Fields. All AMS's calculate fields on some level, but it is the systems that give organizations the ability to calculate their own fields that make them "Best in Class."
To help you understand how calculated fields are put into action, here are some examples where AMS's calculate fields out-of-the-box:
A person signs up to join your organization, register for the annual conference, buys a T-shirt, and makes a donation (for good measure) all at once, then goes to the checkout page to find a calculated total for all of the items he/she is purchasing.
A chapter leader can access a chapter profile page and find a calculated # of active and inactive members affiliated with his/her chapter.
You visit a member's profile on the admin side of the system and can not only see the date that the member first joined, but you can also see a calculated # of years active (so you don't have to do the math.)
Now that we've seen calculated fields in action, let's look at some examples where organizations are empowered by systems that allow them to create their own calculations.
Your organization is broken into independent chapters in cities all over the US that are then organized into regions. You set up the system to place individuals into chapters based on their addresses. You are then able to assign them a region based on the assigned chapter. Now all of your data and communications can automatically flow from and to an individual based on you just collecting their address information.
You have a tiered professional membership that is based on "years as a professional" (Young Professional - 1st 10 years, Midlevel Professional - 11-20 years, Seasoned Professional - 20+ Years.) You determine the years from an individual's college graduation date (which you ask for on your member application).
One of our favorite tools in the AMS market is an Engagement Scoring tool (to be explored in a future "Best in Class" post). An Engagement Scoring tool is simply a series of field calculations. Whether it is a badging system or a numerical score, you set up an action that gets triggered when other data is determined to meet some set of criteria. So, field calculation is a powerful tool that AMS's use to make their systems robust, but this feature does not become "Best in Class" until the power is put into your hand.