The client, the NSW ACT IEU, is a union for all staff working in non-government schools and private business and English colleges, and for teachers working in private and community-based early childhood centres throughout NSW and the ACT. A twenty-year-old legacy system was being used to manage memberships for their 30,000 members.
The legacy membership system was a critically important asset, underpinning the membership process, data storage and revenue management for the organization. The system had many limitations however. Staff found the old system slow and cumbersome, with data needing to be retrieved from a variety of screens or external spreadsheets for individual members.
The legacy system was also incompatible with new technology, expensive to maintain and at increasing risk of failure. It was straining to handle the demands required of it and regularly failing which was frustrating for staff and adversely impacting productivity. It also required separate installation on each desktop computer and when problems occurred, there was a heavy reliance on the one developer who knew how to maintain the system. The availability of ongoing support for maintenance of a system of this kind was also dwindling.
Twenty years of membership data was held on the legacy system, and preservation of this was a paramount concern. Many members of the NSW ACT IEU move in and out of employment and it is vital to retain long-term information to ensure data is complete and to avoid the complication of inadvertently creating duplicate records. The NSW ACT IEU also sought to minimize change management issues and wanted any new system to be comfortable for existing users to work with.
NSW ACT IEU approached stSoftware in late 2009 seeking a solution.
stSoftware offers a membership management software solution called stMembertrack. It is built using a wide variety of Lego-like modules that can be integrated to match the specific requirements of particular clients.
Because the fundamental components are pre-built, it is therefore relatively simple to customize the system by combining the modules that are relevant to the client’s processes and information requirements. This means that a tailored membership system can be built at less cost and in less time compared with a custom-designed system built from scratch.
All of stSoftware’s systems are also based in the cloud which enables IEU to benefit from web based technology.
stSoftware began by reviewing the capability of the legacy membership system and identified what aspects of it were beneficial to the organization’s operations. stSoftware also interviewed primary users to understand their information requirements and to ascertain what types of functionality could be incorporated to improve user experience.
In early 2010, stSoftware began working on building a solution. The functionality offered in stSoftware’s universal Lego-like system matched the majority of NSW ACT IEU’s requirements, which were tailored to incorporate and improve upon existing legacy system functions. The solution also included successfully migrating two decades worth of data to the new web-based membership system.
As part of the new system, stSoftware sought to streamline administrative processes by integrating all primary data on a single screen. A reports menu was built with formats that were consistent with the styles staff were accustomed to. The new cloud membership system also replaced many other disparate IEU systems, centralising all data into one easily accessible resource.
The new system was launched in April 2011.
A survey conducted with primary users in September 2011 indicated that stSoftware’s solution had generated significant improvements. These included:
|Faster & simpler usability||Staff commented that they found the system to be fast and intuitive to use. The introduction of a main screen view that captured all key member account data was a major improvement over the previous system that required the user to open multiple screens or access separate Excel data to obtain the same information.Staff reported that it was simpler to run reports, and the ability to generate reports in PDF or Excel has also improved usability.Minimal training in the new system had been required because staff had found the interface to be ’self-explanatory’ and uncomplicated.|
|Customisation to user requirements||When developing the new system, great care was taken by stSoftware to take into account the aspects of the previous system that users had found positive. This meant that the new system was tailored to suit user expectations and experience.Since the new system was introduced, staff have suggested the addition of new data fields (such as information about the member’s privacy settings and recruitment source data, as examples) and the new system’s flexibility has enabled this to be easily accommodated. Staff report that stSoftware are quick to respond and implement new requirements.|
|Online capability||As the system is based in the cloud, staff are able to access and process data from any location via a browser which was a significant improvement over the previous office based system. This feature enables staff working out in the field or from home to access and update data as needed.|
|Retention of data||The new system has captured all data recorded in the old legacy system and presented it in a new, easy to access format. The system also enables staff to roll back data to a specified date to assist with audit checks.|
|Easier maintenance||By being based in the cloud, there were no desktop installation requirements which meant staff could be up and running straight away. It also eliminated the potential for technology incompatibility that could occur with the former legacy system and newer local computers.Maintenance issues can be dealt with remotely which has also speeded up response times.|
From the outset, the base functionality of stSoftware’s universal Lego-like system matched the vast majority of the NSW ACT IEU’s requirements. This meant the client was able to avoid significant risk, costs and time that would have been involved if a completely new system had needed to be written.
The ability to integrate a series of tailored modules that align with the operations and terminology used by the NSW ACT IEU meant that the system changeover was fast to implement and easy for staff to adjust to. The new system’s flexibility and scalability also means we can continue to evolve the system to meet future operational requirements.
Overall, the NSW ACT IEU has benefitted by having: