Posted: January 16, 2018
Scottish Rowing launched a new Membership System in December developed in partnership with Go Membership. We talked to the Member Services Administrator from Scottish Rowing, Jo Pinder about why it was necessary to move to a new system and how it will benefit their members. Jo has worked for Scottish Rowing for 4 years and her main responsibilities are dealing with member queries, administering points and updating the SR website.
Why did Scottish Rowing decide to develop a new membership system?
The old system was a bespoke system made for SR and was a very specialised piece of software but it was developed by a small company that was looking to move away from the kind of maintenance that the old system needed. We needed to consider developing a new system while we still had access to the old one to allow us the time to make sure we got it right and we made any transition as smooth as possible.
Why Go Membership?
We looked around at who had experience of developing systems for other smaller Sports Governing Bodies (SGBs). We knew we would also need a degree of customisation to allow us to administer things like our points system, which is quite specific to Scottish Rowing, so it was important to choose a company that had the skills to do that. Quite a few Scottish SGB's had selected Go Membership and it had gone through a number of iterations which meant it had already dealt with a lot of things we were worried about. The Go Membership system is also built as a series of modules which allows us to customise it by selecting the modules we want. This means that we have the option to add additional modules if we need them in the future. We also worked with them to develop a new module for us to administer status points for racing. The fact that they also have modules that can be added to make it more useful to clubs as a whole club management system was very attractive to us as it is an additional benefit we can provide to our member clubs.
Club Management system?
One of the big benefits of the new system is that it gives a lot of control to the clubs. They can use it to register all of their club members, group family members together so parents can administer their children’s accounts, email specific groups within their club (e.g. committee or coaches) and upload credentials and qualifications. We hope that the club administrators have a look around the Club Administration Area within the system and make full use of the options available to them. Go Membership has options for clubs to upgrade to give them even more functionality so they could even take membership payment and entry fees through it.
The new System has been live now for a month how has the launch gone?
With any new system you have a few teething problems but it has been remarkably smooth. We spent a lot of time in development and we had a thorough testing phase before release. I have a background in software development and testing and they were skills that were very valuable during the process. I worked closely with the development team from Go Membership and we spent a lot of time getting the little things right. It's important that when people log on for the first time that they are asked the right questions and the right information has fed through from the previous system to give users the confidence that we have taken the time to get it right. We really think we have improved the look of the system and we were keen to make sure that it worked as nicely as it looks so we launched with the basic functionality first and we are adding things once we are happy with them, even today we added a new report for club administrators to make it easier to put in race entries and we have a number of other new features in the pipeline.
Have many people used the system yet?
Not as many as we would like but because most people only log onto the membership system to renew or buy a licence once a year it will take a little while for everyone to log onto the system. We have had about 25% of our existing users log on though and with the head racing season getting back underway shortly we expect quite a few more people to start logging on to find out their licence numbers. As always the message there is don't leave it too late to do that as if there is a problem we might need time to sort it out especially now as we have our system with an external organisation and they will work normal office hours.
Is that not a step backwards?
No we previously relied on a small group of people to deal with the system problems on an ad-hoc basis. We expect that the move to the new system will result in fewer problems arising when people carry out regular transactions like renewing or taking out membership. If problems do arise, there is now a more systematic approach to enquiries. People can raise an enquiry from within their membership account and then track the response to their issue or they can email us directly. In the first instance staff from Scottish Rowing will look into the problem but if it's a more technical problem then it will be escalated to the Service Desk at Go Membership.
Does this change anything about how we enter regattas?
The biggest change is that we have separated the membership system from the rowingentry online entry system. It will still be able to take entries, for those events that want to use it, but when people take out a licence it doesn’t automatically update to the entry system. We will have fixed points in the lead up to events that we update the member data but rowers will need to make sure they don’t leave renewing their licence to the last minute.
Jo will be available during our Changing the Future weekend (20th & 21st January) at the sportscotland National Sports Training Centre in Largs to answer questions about the membership system or you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org with any queries.