When Meg Palumbo told one of her members that his member directory listing had been upgraded and that he could log in to update his profile, he responded by saying he was “technologically challenged” and wanted to meet in person.
In Meg’s Own Words
I met with our member today. He sat down, setup his laptop and reiterated that it would take a minute to teach him. He shared that he found computers to be very confusing and didn’t “get website stuff,” so I would need to take my time with him.
Our member even joked that his computer battery only had an hour left, and he hoped it was enough time. I promised him it would be easy and he laughed it off saying I hadn’t tried to teach him yet.
Well, twenty minutes later, after a full review of his Member Compass (where he has Management Access), he said “So where’s the catch? That was too easy.”
Our member left our office feeling confident he could update the company’s profile as frequently as he needs. And that’s what this profession is all about – empowering our members to succeed.
Lee Rogers knows a lot about association membership having spent years as the Membership Committee chair for the Apartment Association of Greater Orlando, a trade association representing the multi-family housing industry in Central Florida. Under her watch, the organization has grown significantly both in membership size and in the scope of their work.
As AAGO’s incoming president, Lee has had a front seat view of the organization’s transition from a large legacy AMS to novi.
We sat down with Lee to get her thoughts on the change and the impact that novi AMS has had on her association.
As a Member Herself
I am not an Internet shopper… I get turned off by something that is cumbersome. When I see that something is clean and simple, it’s refreshing.
That’s the difference that novi AMS is providing AAGO. It’s easy to navigate, clean, and I can find things.
It’s just easier for me to stay informed and to stay engaged.
As a Regional Manager
In the past, it was more like three or four steps to get our team registered for event, and this friction limited our attendance at events.
Now, it’s easy. We can think about attending an event in the moment and just take care of it. It’s a one-step process.
As an Incoming President
We’re absolutely seeing an increase in member engagement.
Our membership enrollment is way up. Event attendance is hitting records – both on the vendor side and the owner/manager side (AAGO’s primary membership). Collections are up as well since it’s easy for people to see their outstanding invoices.
Mr. Lopez is quite likely my oldest member (member as in age, not the length of membership). He has 4 units and previously received 3 dues invoices for his grand total of $124 per year.
Every year he would pay one invoice – not always the cheapest, usually the one he got first. He would then be confused by the other invoices and usually ignore them. Since he doesn’t speak much English, it wasn’t in his nature to pick up the phone and inquire about the other invoices.
Typically, several months down the road, one of his kids would help us sort it out. Mr Lopez’s dues invoices always got paid, but only through a great deal of effort from a handful of people.
I just posted a dues payment from Mr. Lopez.
2018 is paid in full. In December. And nobody has to bug him about this again!
This was only possible because of novi learning the various hierarchy scenarios for my dues and making it simple. It may seem small, but it’s a big deal around here!
For the third year in a row, members of the novi AMS team flew across the country to join accounting experts and other software developers at the QuickBooks Connect conference in Silicon Valley. In many ways, QuickBooks has been a partner of ours on this journey, so I felt like it was important to report back to you – our association partners – with some of the things we learned on our trip.
Future of QuickBooks
Brad Smith, the CEO of Intuit, shared his vision for the future. Two things jumped out at me. First, QuickBooks Online continues to grow at an ever increasing pace. When we first launched novi, QuickBooks Online had 400k businesses on the platform. Today, that number is roughly 2.4M. Second, it is clear that Intuit is investing heavily into artificial intelligence or “AI.” This technology is visible in the way that they suggest matches in your bank feed and in their “QuickBooks Assistant” chat bot that is in the final stages of beta. Ultimately, their goal is to push software developers to find new ways to make your lives easier.
New API in 2018
QuickBooks announced that they plan to launch a new API (how we connect to QuickBooks) at some point in 2018. From what we learned during the technical sessions, this new API should open up capabilities that are not available today. While the specifics are not finalized, this new connection path could end up being very helpful during our deep dives into major feature updates in the coming months.
Each year, Intuit hosts a hackathon where software engineers and designers from around the world converge to experiment with new technologies, explore the latest updates to the QuickBooks API, and look for new, innovative ways to solve problems. Teams are given 26 hours to design and build software from scratch which is then presented on stage to a panel of judges.Last year, the novi dev team took home “Best QuickBooks API Integration” for building datamaid, a data cleanup tool for QuickBooks that many you have been able to use.
This year, our team decided to experiment with artificial intelligence. We built a chat bot prototype called “Who Owes Us Money?” An outside sales person could pull out their phone and ask, “Ok Google, Who owes us money?” The system would use the salesperson’s location to direct him or her to the customer who had most egregious receivable nearby.
While “Who Owes Us Money” isn’t something that we’d build into novi, the experience gave our engineers a chance to push boundaries and hone their skills. It also gave us the opportunity to bring home some bacon! Google awarded our work “Best Google Assistant Integration.”
Find Your Tribe
On the non-technical side, the founder of SoulCycle left an impression on me when she defined her organization as “a movement… a community… a tribe.” I couldn’t help but think of all of you. Novi is much more than a software company that built an AMS. Novi is a movement, a community, and a tribe. Without you, your trust, your patience, and your sincere desire to help each other, we couldn’t be what we are today. Thank you!
Just about all association management software on the market has some sort of export to QuickBooks. However, association executives from across the country continue to report that their AMS “doesn’t work with QuickBooks.” After seeing so many associations struggle with bad data transfers, clumsy workarounds, and hours of wasted staff time, the novi AMS team set out to solve this problem once and for all.
As we dug into the problem, we discovered that it wasn’t that association management software couldn’t “talk to” QuickBooks. It was a communication issue. The two systems were speaking different languages, and there was a poor translator attempting to bring the two together. This disconnect was the root of countless headaches, wasted time, and perhaps even some choice expletives as association staff struggled to implement workarounds just to get their member data and event records to sync with QuickBooks.
If novi AMS was going to get our connection to QuickBooks right when so many others have gotten it wrong, we knew we needed to take a different approach.
Here are five tangible steps that the novi AMS team has taken to finally solve the challenge:
1. Novi AMS Integrates Exclusively with QuickBooks Online. Intuit is doing everything they can to convince their desktop customers (even Enterprise) to move to QuickBooks Online. They should. It’s a more modern platform with quicker updates and better service. Our integration takes advantage of the API only available to QuickBooks Online customers. This software bridge is what allows us to provide 24/7, seamless integration between QuickBooks and novi AMS. It is also the reason why we’re able to sync individual records down to the line item instead of dropping obscure journal entries into an association’s books.
2. We’re Active in the Intuit Developer Community. Just like your members need to “get involved” to get the most out of their membership, we decided early on that our team needed to be a part of the Intuit Developer community. Not only has our team participated in their online social community and developer forums, but we have also traveled to Silicon Valley to meet with their internal team and participate in their developer hackathons. In 2016, the novi development team won “Best QuickBooks Online API Integration” for building a tool to help our clients clean their accounting records.
4. We have QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisor Training. The novi AMS client support team quickly learned that when you integrate two systems at such an intimate level, it can be hard to determine when an AMS question stops and a QuickBooks question begins. To make sure that our support team can be there to point you in the right direction, a number of our team members have gone through the Certified ProAdvisor training program that Intuit offers to accountants and professional bookkeepers. Our intent isn’t to replace your accounting professional, but we do want to make sure that our support team was knowledgeable and qualified to help.
5. Association Executives Give Us Real-Time Feedback. As developers, we may know how to make things happen, but sometimes it’s more important to understand why things should be a certain way. We enlisted the help of a team of association experts to teach us how they used QuickBooks and to share how they wanted their AMS to integrate. With their guidance, our development team didn’t simply “connect” to QuickBooks. We found ways to enhance QuickBooks’ native functionality to better reflect the way that associations actually work.
novi AMS® founder and QuickBook Certified ProAdvisor Pete Zimek discusses the role of technology in workplace automation and financial risk reduction with Steel Rose of CPA Magazine.
How does technology help CPA firms?
“Well first I think technology really automates things that we spend an inordinate amount of time doing by hand. We’ve got some of our clients that report their staff spending 20, 30, even 40 hours per week, just on basic data entry. The challenge is, not only is it that time consuming and expensive, but it also is a place to bring in risk. If you think about it, if you’ve got lots of manual data entry, its a place where people can make mistakes, or even worse.”
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