Draft Standard from ASAE Data Standards Committee

If you need some reading for beach this weekend, have I got a draft standards document for you!

Seriously, the draft standard described in the announcement below is the first step in an overall effort to improve the ability of association systems to integrate more effectively and efficiently. If you are an association IT exec or a technology vendor serving this market, please take the time to review and comment upon the draft.

The ASAE Data Standards Task Force is pleased to announce the release of
a draft standard for expressing constituent records in XML. This
standard will serve as a core for expanding into other data
representations. Therefore, it is especially critical to gather feedback
on the draft standard from the association technology community.

Please go to this page on the ASAE web site in order to download the
standards documents: http://www.asaecenter.org/datastandardsreview.

Please review the draft standard and consider how well it serves your
needs as an association or those of your customers if you are a
technology vendor. Once you have reviewed the standard, please provide
your comments.

You will need to register with the site in order to submit a comment,
but you do not have to be a member of ASAE. Go to the same page from
which you downloaded the documents
(http://www.asaecenter.org/datastandardsreview) and follow the
instructions on providing comments.

Non-IE browser (Firefox, Safari) users: Before logging in, you will
receive an error message “Website Certified by an Unknown Authority”.
Accept the certificate permanently and you’ll be able to continue.

Please share this message with your database experts on staff or with
supporting vendor companies. Their input as experts in implementing your
technology is highly valuable to the standards development process.

We thank you in advance for your critical review of the draft standard
and the feedback you provide.

It's 10 a.m., Do You Know Where Your Data Is?

Looks like an association just got hit by losing a hard drive containing sensitive member data:

A restored AICPA computer hard drive containing some member information (names, addresses, and Social Security numbers) was being transported to the Institute and cannot presently be located. The hard drive was damaged and had been sent out for repair by an employee in direct violation of the Institute’s internal control policies and procedures.

Despite the exhaustive investigations both within the Institute and FedEx Express, the hard drive has not yet been located. There is no evidence that the drive or its contents have been inappropriately accessed. Based on our investigation to date, we believe this is a case of a misplaced package. Nevertheless, we are pursuing a number of actions to protect our members.

Letters have been sent to some former and current AICPA members informing them of this incident and offering free credit monitoring services.

As noted above in the quote, the problem wasn’t a lack of policies. It was a lack of understanding of them by staff. All association leaders need to discuss with their staff the trust their members give to them to protect their information. Once your members feel that you have violated that trust, you may never get it back.

This also raises a question about storing SSNs. Do you really need them? If not, or you can develop a less sensitive alternative, purge them. It’s not worth the risk.

AMS-CMS Integration Audio Download

You may recall that I did an audio conference a couple weeks ago with Wes Trochlil on the potential and pitfalls of integration association and content management systems. The session was very well received by our attendees at the live event.

I am pleased to now make the program available as a download: Understanding the Potential (and Pitfalls) of Integrating CMS and AMS Systems Audio Product. For $99 you will receive an MP3 file of the audio and a PDF of the slides. A sample of the audio is available in this post.

And here is a special one week offer to my blog readers: use this code when you buy the product and get 40% off! This code will be good until one week from today (May 24, 2006). Enter this code in the shopping cart to receive your discount: V823R4E1 Please feel free to share the code with anyone you think might benefit from this unique program.

Learn more about the audio program.


RSS for Associations, AMS-CMS Integration Event

I have posted the full text of the RSS for Associations article that was published in Association Forum of Chicagoland‘s Forum Magazine this month.

Also, I wanted to remind you that the Understanding the Potential (and Pitfalls) of Integrating CMS and AMS Systems event is being held next Thursday. This is one of the few places to learn about the somewhat tricky topic of creating value for your association by integrating your data and content management systems. Register today!


Microsoft just released some sample code with which to create RSS feeds from Microsoft CRM. I think this is a great development and provides a lot of value to users of the product. Being able to subscribe to a feed for a particular person, or class of persons, in a CRM database allows you to track them within your existing tools rather than having to remember to login to a portal page or application.

In fact, I talk about RSS for association management systems in an article I wrote for Forum Magazine that should be out in the April issue. Below is an excerpt of the bit about adding RSS to AMS:

I believe that the potential of RSS as a communication and productivity tool is just beginning to be fully explored. In addition to continuing to use it share and raise awareness of web-based content, I believe that RSS can be put to use in strengthening the relationship between a member and her association.

One use specific to the association market is around increasing member awareness. Take the common scenario of an association staffer who manages a committee or board and serves as an ex officio member of the group. What if your association management system provided an RSS feed for each member, providing updates every time something new happens with that member. You could then subscribe to the feed of each member on the committee and be immediately updated when they register for a conference, renew their membership, buy a product or miss an important continuing education deadline. Imagine the value of being fully aware of your committee members’ individual interactions with the association in a way that comes directly to your desktop rather than you having to mine your AMS on a daily basis to find the same information.

The same kind of feed could be exposed to your members, secured with their user name and password. This feed could alert them when a product they purchased from you ships, deadlines to renew membership or continuing education credits, etc. This would allow them to be much more aware of what your association is doing for them on a daily basis without having to take overt steps to find it out.

This kind of awareness raising could improve the experience for everyone in the association by making better use of the data that flows through your systems on a daily basis to strengthen the relationship between members and the association.

(Via Scoble.)

Give Me Unified Login or Give Me Death!

A question came across the ASAE Technology Section list this week about how to manage multiple logins for a variety of web-based services offered to members of an association. I chose to deliver a bit of a rant rather than a direct answer. I’ve posted my note below:

I think the time has come where any serious vendor in the association market should support authentication from another system for their product and associations should begin to demand it.

As others have posted, this level of integration is relatively easy to achieve via web services. Sure, each association/system will have its quirks that may require some tweaking but the basics are well defined.

Hostile user/login management systems immediately cripple your ability to create member value on the web. We, as an industry, shouldn’t tolerate it any longer.

I think that people these days are willing to create a new login for organizations/companies that they interact with and receive value from. One login. Unless the value you provide is incredibly high, most will not be happy to create multiple logins for just you and many will not bother. Vendors take note: you’ll be at an increasingly greater competitive disadvantage the longer you fail to support external authentication mechanisms in your services and products.

Association Data Standards Consortium

The data standards group I have been active in forming now has a web page: Association Data Standards Consortium:

The Association Data Standards Consortium is a forum for identifying and communicating the process, information, and technology standards that facilitate seamless, efficient electronic business integration for associations and the for-profit businesses that serve them. ADSC is working through the X12 organization to develop standards.

The Association Data Standards Consortium uses the term “association” broadly, to include any non-profit member-centric organization or donor-based charity or foundation. Examples include but are not limited to: trade associations, professional societies, public foundations, philanthropic organizations, chambers of commerce, unions, fraternal organizations, and similar organizations.

I serve as the humble Communications Chair for ADSC, which means I approve requests to subscribe to the mailing list and help keep the web page up to date. The hard work of developing the initial standards is being done by the working groups.

These data standards should eventually help eliminate some of the pain that associations experience in integrating various systems with their association management system (CRM for membership organizations).