National Association of College Stores
The National Association of College Stores (NACS) is a trade association, representing retail outlets on nearly 4,000 campuses throughout North America as well as nearly 1,000 vendors that support and supply the $10 billion campus store industry.
Empowered end users and reduced reliance on IT
Streamlined registrations for NACS' largest event
When NACS implemented their legacy association software in 2005, it handled the majority of the association’s core needs. As time moved on and new technology and member expectations advanced, the technology team at NACS kept pace by both customizing their AMS and adding custom integrations.
While these fixes solved immediate problems, over time they created a system that was difficult to maintain and nearly impossible to update or upgrade. In fact, their legacy system was so customized that the only option their vendor gave them to upgrade their software was to do a full new implementation and migrate data.
In addition to challenges with the system, NACS also faced the challenge of the learning curve that existed due to the amount of customizations and integrations. Even for new IT hires that were familiar with their legacy software base system there was still a six to nine month learning curve to understand the system.
After limping along for four to five years and expending nearly all of his IT resources just to keep basic functionality in place, NACS CTO Daniel Bell had enough and knew he had to move to a more sustainable solution.
“By the time we finally decided there was no choice but to upgrade, our team had written custom integrations with 38 different systems just to meet our basic business needs,” said Bell.
As NACS began searching for the right solution to move forward with, it became clear early in their search that finding a cloud-based platform was a top priority. They were intrigued with Salesforce and liked that Fonteva had built its Association Software Platform on this industry-leading CRM. NACS responded to Fonteva’s roadmap, its Communities, and its ecosystem of third-party partners and integrations.
One of the goals for the new system was to reduce the reliance on IT staff and empower end users to do more. Previously, almost anything that needed to be done with reports, orders, etc. became an IT request. Now with Fonteva, NACS team members are taking on more responsibilities which were previously handled by the IT staff. This shift is freeing the IT team from an emphasis on day-to-day tasks and enabling them to focus on becoming more of a strategic leader within the association.
Rather than requesting the creation of new reports, according to Bell, now staff ask for assistance with modifying existing reports. This kind of support takes just a few minutes of guidance from an IT team member. Additionally, one team member has created “clean up” reports to help validate data or identify data that needs to be looked at more closely. As a result, NACS has more reliable data. The email system at NACS was never integrated with the previous AMS. Bell reported that with Fonteva this was an integration that took ten minutes to set up. Data from emails including open rates, click throughs, etc. now go directly into contact records, which has prompted internal discussions about how to approach member communications through email differently.
NACS streamlined registrations for its largest event through the use of Fonteva and single sign-on with a virtual event platform, cutting down on registrants’ frustrations and the need for additional support. Bell referred to this process as seamless and indicated that this could not have been accomplished with their previous system.
“The college industry is under a lot of pressure right now. Any resources that can streamline operations are going to be key at this point. From the inside there are a lot of efficiencies being gained. We’ve made the transition to Fonteva just in time to really serve our industry.”
Daniel Bell, Chief Technology Officer, National Association of College Stores
NACS is now looking at ways to address industry challenges and is now in a better position to help support strategic initiatives. Additionally, they’re focused on building stronger collaboration with other industry associations. NACS has discovered that some of these organizations are also using Fonteva, and they’re brainstorming how they can work together to strengthen the industry.
Bell concluded, “With the power of Fonteva, if we need to make changes, we have that ability. Going forward I think we’re going to be able to quickly adapt to what we need for our industry and for our organization.”