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Do you have the X factor? Digital experiences for the modern member

(Communications, Marketing, Membership, Web, Usability, CMS) Permanent link

digital library kiosks

The association community is filled with abbreviations and acronyms. When talking about technology with your colleagues, you’re bound to hear several mentioned in one conversation: AMS, CMS, LMS, SaaS, CRM, UX, and so on. Here’s one you might not have heard before: DX or digital experience.

The membership experience for many of your members is a digital experience. For example, your website is most likely a prospective member’s first insight into your organization and, after joining, their major touchpoint with you.

But your website is only one platform for interacting with members. The digital experience therefore requires an omni-channel approach—a digital strategy that encompasses all digital platforms.

Over the last several years, you’ve increasingly communicated with—and delivered value to—members via your blog, emails, mobile apps, and other digital platforms and channels.

  • New members receive a series of onboarding emails instead of a bulky welcome package on their doorstep.
  • They consume your website’s articles and resources, and they stay informed thanks to e-newsletters.
  • They register for events and buy products online.
  • Members with sufficient budgets may still go to in-person events, but others rely on online courses and webinars for their professional development.
  • Members get advice from each other in online communities, and socialize and share resources on social media platforms.
  • And, they participate in online advocacy campaigns.

You’re not the only ones who use digital platforms to interact and deliver value to your members. The digital world is full of nonprofit and for-profit brands competing for your members’ attention, interest, time, and money. That’s why it’s so critical to consider how your member is experiencing their membership—both in person and on digital platforms.

  • Are you providing a consistent membership experience?
  • How satisfying is their digital experience?
  • Is it productive or frustrating?
  • Does it feel personal or institutional?
  • Does the digital experience provide the value that members seek?

Understand the digital experience (DX)

Before you take steps to improve the digital experience, you must first understand the type of experience you’re providing now. Google Analytics provides a wealth of data about how members and other visitors are using your website. However, making sense of all the data provided by Google Analytics can be a daunting task (and a good reason to hire a consultant). Other digital platforms—social media tools, mobile apps, and email marketing software—also provide analytical reports that can help you understand how members are interacting with your digital content.

Use surveys and focus groups to collect feedback from members about their digital experience so you can better understand their online expectations and habits. Consult with staff who provide member and customer service or anyone else who regularly answers calls and emails. These ‘frontline’ employees know your digital bottlenecks and problem areas… like the 14 steps it takes to renew a membership.

You need to think about the digital experience of all your different audiences, not just members. In developing a digital strategy, you’ll define those target audiences and the percentage of time you’ll dedicate to each one—along with the resources, content, and services you’ll use to support them.

Shift resources from traditional to digital experiences

You may find that senior staff and other leaders continue to think about the membership experience in traditional terms. The data you’ve collected from Google Analytics, other digital platforms, and customer feedback will provide the proof needed for the new digital reality. You will need leadership support to make the organizational changes necessary to provide the best digital experience possible.

Rule #1: get out of the member’s or customer’s way. Members are focused on what they need to do or find; they’re not thinking about the departments or systems that might provide it. For example, website navigation shouldn’t mirror the association’s departments; instead, it should reflect the needs of the target audiences.

Delivering a successful member experience online goes beyond building a website. Your digital experience and content live on many different platforms. Supporting this digital ecosystem requires looking realistically at traditional mindsets, job descriptions, budget lines, and organizational responsibilities. Do they support today’s new digital reality or are they relics of the 20th century?

Often when new technology and processes are implemented, the people factor is left out of the mix. Does your staff have the appropriate skills to develop and manage a digital strategy? You must have the right people in the right roles to succeed in the new digital environment.

An organization’s culture determines how successful it will be in providing a valuable digital experience to members and customers. A good digital experience requires a collective effort, not a piecemeal departmental approach. When we work with our association clients on a digital content digital strategy, we bring different departments together to work as a unified team, often for the very first time.

Although the digital experience involves technology, budgets, and programs that live in different departments, an integrated approach is required. When staff is encouraged to work together collaboratively, they’re more likely to provide a digital experience that solves the problems and meets the needs of members and constituents. And what organization wouldn’t be pleased with those results?

Related reading:


Flickr photo by Mosman Library

DelCor’s January 2016 Blogger’s Digest

(Everything Else) Permanent link

snow on wire mesh

Hello, February! Here are the 5 posts from last month that you might have missed or just want to review, along with some related reading. As always, we appreciate your feedback/comments!

We’re lifelong learners here at DelCor. So it makes sense that we’d be interested in monitoring the MOOC trend—and how those massive open online courses (MOOCs) are impacting the e-learning landscape overall. What are the 3 e-learning issues that need your attention? Tobin Conley, CAE, investigates: Associations’ Online Learning Resolutions for 2016

Related reading: The professional development advantages of MOOCs by Kylee Coffman

We launched a new blog feature this new year. It’s aimed at getting diverse perspectives on association technology topics—from not just one DelCorian, but several! See what’s on our brains: What are we thinking? DelCorians weigh in on association technology trends

Related reading: Top 9 of 2015 – our most popular posts

Workplace culture is not unlike a recipe, where all the right ingredients, in the right proportions, combine to make a company great. Coming off a year when DelCor was named an ‘excellent workplace’ and our CEO received ASAE’s distinguished Academy of Leaders Award, we thought it appropriate to look at some of our ingredients with a critical eye. Loretta M. DeLuca, FASAE, CEO, reveals: The special ingredients for a DelCorian workplace culture

Related reading: DelCor Awarded Workplace Excellence Seal of Approval

Snowzilla. Jonas. Blizzard of 2016. Whatever you called it, the recent winter storm that blanketed the mid-Atlantic brought ‘normal life’ to an utter standstill. DelCorians are prepared to work remotely when such disasters/emergencies hit, and we think associations should be, too. That’s why we published: The IT Snowpocalypse Survival Guide

Related reading: What association CEOs need to know about Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies by Dave Coriale

Trends are on trend, and you might even be tired of hearing about trends. But sometimes how we even think about trends is a real point to consider. When organizational leaders get together to talk technology, we think the big strategy topics shouldn’t be overshadowed by the usual (albeit necessary) budget-driven conversations. Dave Coriale implores you to pay attention: 5 technology trends association executives can no longer ignore

Related reading: How IT directors can hone their strategic chops by Tobin Conley, CAE

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Flickr photo by Franck Vervial

5 technology trends association executives can no longer ignore

(AMS, Association Management) Permanent link

ostrich side eye

When an association’s leadership team discusses technology, the conversation is often driven by budget-related issues, like system selections. That’s a relevant topic for discussion, but I implore you to put these 5 critical technology issues on the top of your agenda.

1. A culture of security

We haven’t seen many associations in the recent headlines about security breaches. However, more headlines are inevitable given the complacency about security and overreliance on firewalls, spam filters, and other security tools. Those tools are necessary, but they can’t fix one of the most critical security risks: your organization’s culture.

Everyone has a role in the security of your organization’s data, network infrastructure, and other digital assets. Your staff leadership team must take steps to build a culture of security throughout your organization. Start by talking with your IT team about security vulnerabilities. Ask them to identify the most common vulnerabilities and find out who’s accountable for their prevention and what steps must be taken to address those vulnerabilities.

2. IT as a business unit

In the last 5 years, we’ve seen the emergence of the IT department as a business unit as opposed to an operational unit. In mature organizations, the IT department is a strategic partner to business departments. The IT team brings a uniquely informed perspective to planning discussions. They help their colleagues understand how technology and business intelligence can be used to achieve their goals. Is your IT team ready for that role? Is your staff ready to accept them in that role?

3. Data governance

If it takes 2 days for someone to fulfill a request for data, it’s time for your organization to have a data governance conversation. Gather a representative group—one person from each business unit that works with data—to oversee data governance and maintenance.

Data isn’t a technical issue or IT concern; it’s a business issue. Each business unit must identify the data they absolutely need to do their jobs. Do you have that data? Where is it stored? Who manages it? How clean is it? The cleanliness (or integrity) of your data is critical; otherwise, it won’t be trusted or used effectively.

4. Cloud clauses

Before you sign a cloud hosting contract, come to an understanding on these 3 issues:

  • Find someone who will scrutinize the Service Level Agreement (SLA) to ensure it provides the level of support you need.
  • Don’t assume the host will automatically back up your data—because in many cases they won’t. Ask about backups and make your own plans.
  • Read the section in the contract or terms and conditions about data ownership. Once you move your data to the cloud, who has rights to it? The Google Drive agreement used to say that Google could repurpose and reuse anything you stored in their cloud. Beware.

5. Mobile-first websites

During a session with Reggie Henry of ASAE and Russ Magnuson of Results Direct, we asked a room of 200 attendees to raise their hands if their website was mobile-friendly: 1/3 of the room had their hands in the air. However, when we asked if they were happy with their mobile presence, all but 10 of them put their hands down.

I remain very concerned about the state of mobile in our community. What’s particularly alarming is the lack of a mobile mindset among associations whose members are in ‘mobile’ professions. Websites can no longer be geared toward the desktop member or prospect. You must surface your association’s value proposition in a mobile environment.

Think hard—and fast.

Don’t let too much time go by before your leadership team addresses these 5 critical issues. If you need some help, let’s get in touch.


Flickr photo by Nature'sAura - C.McKee

The IT Snowpocalypse Survival Guide

(Tech Tips, Innovative Ideas, Dear Del) Permanent link

 stocking up on bread milk TP for snow storm

A whopper of a snow storm is predicted to hit the DC area on Friday afternoon (1/22/16). Many people will want to work from home instead of facing a 6-hour commute back to the ’burbs. Are you ready for that?

When you have to keep the association running in harsh weather conditions, you need the technology equivalent of the “bread, milk, and TP” list—or, depending on your household, the “beer, wine, and cheese” list. We’ve put together this basic list of technology and virtual work issues to address before you leave the office this afternoon (1/21/16).

Blizzard preparation checklist for leadership and IT teams

Golden rules: Put someone specific in charge of each of these areas. Test any system or technology that staff will rely on when working remotely.

Power: Know how to stay current on your building’s power situation. Have contact info for utility companies or building management.

Equipment: Have a plan for keeping key equipment warm in case the power goes out—computer equipment does not survive well in cold conditions. Take sensitive equipment home if you can do so safely and securely.

Network: Have the contact info for your hosting provider or Managed Services Provider (MSP).

Backup: Make sure you back up all systems before you leave the office today. Confirm that any data hosted on servers outside your control (cloud hosting and/or systems hosted by vendors) are also backed up.

Phone and email:

  • Forward personal extensions to cellphones or instruct staff to set call forwarding on their phones.
  • Instruct staff to change their voicemail greeting and email auto-reply to reflect working conditions.
  • Set expectations with staff for checking voicemail and email.
  • Print remote access instructions for the network and phone system along with the IT support phone number(s) on a double-sided business card. Distribute these cards to all staff.

Collaboration platforms: Share the procedures for using your association’s preferred platform for phone and web conferencing (virtual meetings).

Temporary document storage: Tell everyone how to temporarily store files in case the network is unavailable.

Passwords: Make sure everyone knows their own passwords for network access, voice mail, and other systems. If any individuals need password resets, do them now.

Communication with staff: Develop a phone tree to communicate office conditions.

Communication with the outside world: Keep the main company voice mail updated with current conditions and how to contact staff. Use social media accounts as appropriate to provide updates.

IT support: Establish who is going to be on call to help staff working remotely. Be ready to field help desk calls—meaning, don’t dip into that wine too heavily. Tip: Regardless of the weather, DelCor Partner clients can access support any time at (But keep in mind, we’re not super-human!)

Blizzard preparation checklist for staff

Be prepared to work from home:

  • Have a list of staff and key member contacts, including cellphone numbers, email addresses, and any other contact info you may need, like IM or social media usernames.
  • Have written instructions on how to remotely access the network, email, voicemail, instant messaging, web conferencing, and IT support.

Make sure you have all your passwords (and they work—request resets now if they don’t):

  • Phone
  • Laptop
  • Email
  • Remote desktop
  • SaaS accounts that may normally just be stored in your web browser (for example, SurveyMonkey, social media, or your CMS web portal)

Phone and email:

  • Set up out-of-office messages (phone and email) informing people about the situation, your anticipated availability, and alternate ways to reach you or otherwise get help in urgent situations.
  • Forward your work phone to your cellphone.
  • Know how to turn your cellphone into a hotspot in case you lose wifi at home.
  • Check your voicemail and email often.

Computer: Bring a laptop home with your necessary files on the local hard drive—remember to move them back to the network when you return to the office. Make sure your laptop is fully charged. Don’t ever leave your laptop or other equipment in your car—bring them inside with you.

Power: Charge your power packs ahead of time so you can recharge your cellphone and other devices. (My DelCor backup battery is charging as I type!)

Last-minute supplies: Maybe you can get Amazon Prime to deliver these winter accessories in time for the storm—yeah, good luck with that!

Be prepared for the next storm

There’s only so much you can do in an afternoon. But, learn what works, what doesn’t, and what you need (tangibles and intangibles, like policies) to be ready the next time a blizzard or other disaster approaches—or simply when employees need to work from home.

And, finally, if you need help wading through these types of preparations, contact our DelCor team to find out how we can help you develop business continuity and disaster recovery plans, as well as virtual work processes.

Related reading

Flickr photo by Bart


The special ingredients for a DelCorian workplace culture

(Our Company) Permanent link

CulinAerie soup

The DelCor office can sometimes feel like Grand Central Station with many of us coming from and going to client engagements, vendor meetings, conferences, or vacations. But whether we’re on the road for business or pleasure, there’s a moment we all cherish—the welcome back, the welcome home to DelCor.

“It’s good to be home,” one of our consultants said recently upon his return to the office after some extended time on the road. And that made me think: what is it about our office that makes him (and others) feel that way? How did this DelCorian spirit take root and grow? I admit, I’m proud of it, and in trying to put my finger on what this “it” is, I came up with a few practices that are so engrained in our culture that we might actually take them for granted.

When you find the right match, don’t let go.

People create culture. A new team member has to be the right fit for DelCor, and DelCor has to be the right fit for them—not so unusual when hiring. However, a critical factor for us is that they deeply understand associations. Many of us actually come from an association or nonprofit background.

We can teach methodology—how we write reports and RFPs or how we conduct client interviews. But, it’s much more difficult to teach someone the association mindset.

Our consultants need to fit right into the association world, understand it completely, and hit the ground running. They must ask the right questions—questions that elicit insight for everyone. Clients need to think of our consultants as ‘their kind of people’—no translators needed because we get it. Naturally, we’re pleased when we get client feedback that the details were not lost in translation!

When hiring staff, I also look for an interest in participating in the greater association community. Are they the type of person who would like to get involved with ASAE and other groups? Do they want to serve on councils and committees? Are they willing and able to share their successes and lessons learned through articles or presentations? Will they enjoy hanging out and talking shop with fellow association professionals?

Although there are association professionals all around the globe, it often feels like we’re part of a small, well-connected community. Only a few degrees of separation exist between many of us. How many degrees separate the candidate and me? Do we already have a relationship or do I know them only by reputation? What does that reputation tell me? Do I have a sense that they will excel at this job?

Skills, experience, and reputation are important factors in hiring—but there’s more. Each person brings to our team a critical certain something that’s difficult to describe. It’s a type of personality that fits in with our culture and our big, blended DelCor family—a natural inclination to help each other out, share insights, and enjoy each other’s company in the office, on the road, or outside of work. This sense of family contributes to our individual and collective growth and success, and makes coming to work each day a joy.

Provide support to help staff grow.

At DelCor, our mantra is to exceed expectations. Our clients expect us to meet their expectations. My job is to empower our team with the professional and personal support they need to excel and exceed those expectations.

During reviews and casual discussions, we find out what kind of professional development someone is interested in pursuing. For example, DelCor consultants who manage projects for clients are given the resources to obtain their Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. We’ve helped other consultants earn their Microsoft, VMware, and other technical certifications. We even supported one of our consultants as he studied for the Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation. Congratulations, Tobin Conley, CAE!

Tobin and Loretta at Tech15

Of course, growth means more than acquiring knowledge. We encourage staff to develop new perspectives beyond their normal duties by shadowing other positions or collaborating on projects. We help them stretch their comfort zones and practice new professional skills, like public speaking and networking at association events. For the introverts on our staff, these new experiences can be quite challenging; I try to help them by providing coaching and guidance. 

Embrace and appreciate the whole person.

People do their best work when they enjoy what they’re doing. We encourage our DelCor team to bring their whole selves to work, not only their talent and expertise, but all the other parts of their personality that make working with them so invigorating. Our friends and clients see this on display at conferences, on projects, and at social events like our ever-popular Cooking with DelCor evenings that bring us together outside the cubicle.

serving at Shepherd's Table

That’s one of the special ingredients for our workplace culture: we enjoy the time we spend together outside of the office—traveling together, sharing parenting advice, and, notably, giving back to our community. Whether it’s an ASAE event, volunteering at Shepherd’s Table and Capital Area Food Bank, or making a meal with clients and partners at CulinAerie, we love hanging out with each other. This was particularly evident when we conducted 30 Acts of Appreciation throughout our 30th anniversary year (2014)—many of the Acts involved group activities and contributions, like assembling care packages for homeless veterans.

Even our clients say, “People matter.”

As most organizations do, we seek regular feedback from our clients about how we’re doing. When we most recently surveyed our clients, we learned that the top three reasons they chose to work with DelCor were:

  • the expertise of our consultants
  • the client’s interaction with our consultants, and
  • our consultants’ understanding of the client’s needs.

It was evident from these responses how much our people give to DelCor, to their work, and to their clients. The ‘it’ that creates the DelCorian spirit is our people.

Dan at Top Golf

If you have an opportunity to work (or play) with us in any capacity—on a project, in committee service, designing a session, or even on the golf course—I hope you’ll get a taste of what makes a DelCorian a DelCorian. We are not light on ‘seasoning'! And, of course, I welcome feedback on our people—we are constantly growing and we like to stay limber, so we can climb those mountains and travel those trails to progress with you.

What are we thinking? DelCorians weigh in on association technology trends

(Tech Tips, Innovative Ideas, Dear Del) Permanent link

the jetsons office layout sketch

We’re starting a new feature here on the blog that we’re calling “what are we thinking?” The concept is inspired by late-night bits like Jaywalking and the name is a twist on this classic game. “What are we thinking?” will appear as an occasional series, featuring an assortment of DelCorian input and opinions. Read on, let us know what you think, and learn how you can win a prize!

For this post, we asked some of our DelCorians about technology developments that are catching their eye, both inside and outside the association community. Here’s what they said!

Dave Coriale, President

We’ve been hearing hype about future technology since we were kids. And much of it comes true. Just think about your phone and its resemblance to Star Trek communicators.

Right now, I’m super fascinated by the way nanotechnology is being used in energy and medicine by the members of the Materials Research Society. Someday we’ll think procedures like radiation and chemotherapy are as barbarous as bloodletting and leeches.

We’ll also arrive one year at the ASAE Technology Conference to find out that Reggie Henry has given us virtual reality overlays. Imagine if, like the Terminator, you can pull up an attendee’s profile and display it in the air in front of you, for your eyes only—no more worrying about forgotten names or networking jitters.

Chris Ecker, Chief Technology Officer

Because there are so many bad drivers out there, I’m looking forward to self-driving cars. And, the use of chip implants to help pet owners find their lost puppy loves. [Editor’s note: Aw.]

In associations, I’m pleased about the increased attention to security. It’s long overdue.

Loretta Deluca, FASAE, Founder & CEO

What’s exciting to me is probably boring to others. For many years I’ve been unhappy about associations not using their data to make business decisions. This has been partially due to the lack of good tools for extracting and manipulating data, and the difficulty in planning how to use that data. Associations need to ask themselves difficult questions about what they’re looking to answer with their data—that sounds easier to do than it is.

The good news: vendors are building better querying and reporting tools to help users extrapolate information to better inform decision-making. In addition, because of the growing understanding that there’s a wealth of information in an organization’s various data sources, a new type of business providing data intelligence and analytics services has entered our market. At last, associations can take advantage of the thousands of valuable records and data fields they own to make more strategic business decisions. Now, as far as associations asking themselves some difficult, business process-related questions that are necessary to make use of these new tools and services…that’s another story!

Gretchen Steenstra, PMP, Strategic Technology Consultant

It’s not exactly exciting, but I’m seeing a trend of institutions de-institutionalizing themselves. For example, vendors who used to try to build all-in-one systems are turning their focus to a few key areas, and developing strong partnerships (or purchasing other technology companies) to provide the best options for their association clients. Of course, this requires associations and vendors to do due diligence (and plenty of ongoing testing) to make sure their systems play well together.

Leigh Andreasen, Director, IT Products & Services

Advances in telework should be of particular interest to the association community. Remote working is getting better and more easily accessible to all kinds of organizations, large and small. Apps for managing remote connectivity are being regularly developed and upgraded.

Personally, I’m excited about the development of renewable energy sources—kinetic energy capture, in particular (think power cell sidewalks and human-powered blenders). We strive for efficiency in our work and businesses; to strive for efficiency in all aspects of our environment is thinking big. I have a dream to one day have a standing treadmill workstation that doesn’t need electricity to operate, but instead captures the energy from my walking to run my office lights and equipment. Does this directly or immediately impact associations? No, except for the Kinetic Energy Capture Association that will be established!

Tobin Conley, CAE, Strategic Technology Consultant

BIG DATA. Yeah, it may be a bit over-hyped, but there is in fact great promise in it. However, I think associations need to do a better job mastering the data they have now.

Another area that might change our worlds is nanotechnology. This quantum change in materials science could revolutionize fields from pharmaceuticals to energy production/storage and beyond.

Small is beautiful.

Your chance to win

We hope you enjoyed our first installment of “what are we thinking?” Is there something you’d like to ask DelCorians about—and get several informed opinions? Drop us a line with your question. If it appears here on the blog, you’ll win a prize from the DelCor store!

Flickr photo by Fred Seibert

Associations’ Online Learning Resolutions for 2016

(Everything Else) Permanent link

Grumpy MOOC Cat

As the new year begins and we all turn our attention back to work, it may be a good time to take a closer look at how your organization approaches its online learning (a.k.a. e-learning or eLearning, as I like to call it) offerings.

Despite the (often significant) impact of online educational programs on an association’s mission, member value, and non-dues revenue, such efforts are often underfunded and understaffed. Business proceeds as usual; after all, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

However, association professional development programs are under increasingly acute threats from external competition, including other nonprofit groups and commercial concerns. Given the increased interest in massive open online courses (MOOCs), associations may need to ‘up the ante’ in order to justify the cost of online offerings. Furthermore, if Lynda, the online education company that was bought last year by LinkedIn, ever turns its light on the association world, complacency will give way to concern.

As we start 2016, I’d like to bring three eLearning issues to your attention.

#1 Don’t expect tools to solve problems.

People fall in love (lust?) with platforms and other bright, shiny objects, but it’s the content that matters most. Yes, having the best eLearning technology for your members’ and your organization’s needs is important. On the front end, you must provide a good user (learner) experience. And on the back end, your eLearning platform should have an intuitive administrator’s dashboard and integrate with your association management system (AMS). But if your content is ultimately without value, no one will come back for more.

#2 Get to know ADDIE.

What do your members need to learn to advance their careers and grow their business in the next few years? What type of learning experience will best deliver that content? Once you decide, turn your attention to ADDIE.

ADDIE is an instructional design model that’s especially useful for eLearning. Its phases are Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. However, many associations miss one or more of these steps, or they cycle through all five and then stop instead of treating instructional design as a cyclical process. I detail the five phases of ADDIE at the end of this post.

#3 Consider a hybrid eLearning delivery model.

It’s important to note: you can extend your reach with alternate approaches to your online offerings.

For instance, a number of trade associations are now providing the opportunity for member companies to have administrative access to professional development programs. Member companies identify a primary point of contact (education coordinator) who is given access to a portal or dashboard where they can purchase coupons/codes for a specific number of courses. They can then assign those courses to employees and track their progress.

Another approach involves making additional content—other than that created by the association—available to learners. The key here is to determine the needs of learners and find creative ways to deliver the goods. (Just make sure you follow good copyright compliance practice with any content that you offer.)

Not-so-grumpy cat sez…

While no one can tell exactly what 2016 will bring, there are a few things that are certain: associations will face stiff competition for the attention of learners, which will demand concerted focus—and perhaps increased resources—in terms of how online course offerings are designed, delivered, and assessed. By bringing a new level of intentionality to your programs, you can help assure that it will in fact be a very happy new year.

The 5 phases of ADDIE


Using focus groups and surveys, identify your audiences, as well as how you can create meaningful learning objectives. The analysis phase helps answer the Who, What, Where, and When of your planned programs and creates the solid foundation from which to proceed in creating them.


You can do much better than delivering content via a sage-on-the-stage (or screen) accompanied by PowerPoint.

In order to succeed, you must first understand the learning preferences, habits, and needs of your audiences and how you can best deliver content to them. For example, as the success of MOOCs such as Coursera and edX show, many busy professionals prefer bite-sized learning.

The bottom line here is that it takes more than just putting PDFs or presentations online to create a compelling learning experience. Invest in instructional designers who understand how to develop effective learning experiences for adults of the 21st century.


Here’s where the rubber meets the road, and courses are actually put into your learning management system (LMS). This is also where careful attention should be paid to integration requirements with other mission-critical systems. In general, it typically pays to let each of your systems play to its strengths in order to avoid unnecessary customization.

For instance, unless there’s a very good reason to the contrary, the AMS should be the transactional engine, and the LMS the instructional engine. Think about where each type of data lives as well as how (or whether it should be) pushed and pulled between systems. Don’t over-customize. Also, don’t forget to thoroughly test-drive the results: iterative testing ensures that your platforms will play nicely together.

Communication is critical during the Development phase. A business analyst can translate your goals and needs so developers deliver a product that meets your expectations.


Be aware of unusual but likely scenarios. For example, if you have users in China, test access to your platform or prepare to have servers in China. In the ASAE publication, Achieving Global Growth: Establishing & Maintaining Global Markets, an entire section is dedicated to working in China and highlights the opportunities—and potential pitfalls—of expanding into that market.


Throughout the process, you should engage in formative evaluation—review and revision at each stage of course creation. You’ll want to know whether your efforts are successful, and thus must also engage in summative assessments as well. These include the more typical course evaluation forms as well as a variety of other feedback mechanisms. Evaluation drives further Analysis, and the ADDIE cycle continues.


Flickr photo by Ryan Tracey

All Things Tech: December 2015 Blogger’s Digest

(Everything Else) Permanent link

 winter sunrise

It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new year... but we're revisiting last month one more time.

Will 2016 be the year associations take cybercrime seriously? Ransomeware is real, as are other threats to your association's—and your member's—data. Take heed by getting up to speed with CTO Chris Ecker's Don't let cybercriminals hold your association's data hostage (December 4, 2015). Plus, find sample security policies from our Tech15 session Organizational Data Security – Beyond the Basics on the Tech15 Handouts page.

We readily admit that we're all sick of talking about silos—but they still exist, so... why not talk about teaming up instead? Kathleen McQuilkin, PMP, explains Why cross-functional teams are essential to technology success (December 8, 2015) and even provides some examples—such as teams for technology planning, technology projects, data, and website.

With 83 posts to our blog last year, we covered a lot of topics in 2015! Which ones were most read? We tally them up in our year-end entry, Top 9 of 2015 - our most popular posts (December 18, 2015). Read 'em all to see if your favorites made the list!

We gather together each December for lots of reasons, not the least of which is ASAE's Technology Conference & Expo. Our very last post of December provides just a few of Our Tech15 Takeaways (December 22, 2015), but gives us lots to think about in 2016.

Speaking of which... what topics are on your mind? what would you like to see on our blog? what sessions would you like to see us speaking in? Drop us a note at to let us know—or to receive this monthly roundup directly in your inbox. Here's to a great year!

Flickr photo by Peter Miller

Our Tech15 Takeaways

(Community, Events) Permanent link

photo credit

ASAE’s Technology Conference last week was packed with learning and people – it was the most-attended tech conference in its 10-year history. We were honored to speak in 3 sessions:

  1. Loretta advocated for simpler business processes in “If the AMS is dead…what’s next?”
  2. Dave dealt a new game – Cards Against Technology – designed by DelCor to facilitate technology knowledge and conversations among the C-suite.
  3. Brian and Chris went beyond the basics to uncover security concerns associations need to address now.

In the expo hall, we set out to help attendees find some IT zen with in-booth massages and expert advice. I had some lively conversations with folks from Columbia (MD) to Canada! We were pleased to award our booth prize – Bose QuietComfort noise-cancelling headphones – to help Jimi Skelly of HRS find his personal zen zone. If you missed the booth and need a calming moment of your own, drop us a note and we’ll send you some lavender and vanilla stress-relief lotion.

DelCor booth at Tech15

We weren’t just speakers and exhibitors; we were attendees and listeners, too! Chris learned some things about the new EMV card chip technology from one of his co-presenters, especially related to liability as outlined in this article.

The next call for sessions is just around the corner. What would you like to see at Tech16?

Editor’s note: Our blog is going on vacation. Look for new posts in January 2016. We wish all of our association and nonprofit friends a prosperous and happy new year!

Top 9 of 2015 - our most popular posts

(Everything Else) Permanent link

Hot on the heels of ASAE’s 2015 Technology Conference & Expo (and a gazillion other year-end lists) and with only a few workdays remaining in 2015, we present to you our most-read blog posts. Enjoy again or for the very first time! What would you like to see on our blog in 2016? Drop us a note in the comments or at

2015 photo collage

1. Tips for ASAE Annual from a seasoned pro

Our CEO, Loretta, has attended countless ASAE events. She really is a pro. And this year she offered her best insights to conference-goers. They’re not exclusive to ASAE Annual, so if you’ve got an event coming up (especially if you’re a first-timer), take a look at her tips.

Further reading: What I learned at the 2015 ASAE Annual Meeting by Gretchen Steenstra, PMP

2. What’s the difference between digital strategy, content strategy, and content marketing?

If you’re confused, Dave clears it up better than Merriam-Webster. With so much talk about “digital” and “content” these days, you’ll want to have these definitions down pat.

Further reading: 4 tips for creating your content strategy by Kylee Coffman

3. 3 essential positions on your project team

If you want a Cracker Jack team, pay attention to these three critical positions, says Dave. Read on for a breakdown of their roles and the implications of settling for minor league players. Play ball!

Further reading: How associations can dive into Big Data by Dave Coriale

4. What association CEOs need to know about Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies

Devices and security are hot topics, what with the sheer number of portables and wearables combined with the never-ending threat of data breaches and plain old forgetfulness. Dave examines the four major items on association executives’ BYOD to-do list.

Further reading: Password management dos and don’ts by Dan Lautman

5. DelCor earns MSP Pioneer 250 award for second consecutive year

It’s been a great year for DelCor, what with Loretta’s Academy of Leaders Award and Academy of Motion Picture style acceptance speech. But the backbones of our systems and services are award-winning, too. Take this recognition of our leading approach to managed services, for example. We’re thankful for the recognition and even more so for our clients’ continued trust in us.

Further reading: Outsourcing IT to a Managed Services Provider (MSP) by Brian Sheehan

6. The secret to managing change during a technology project

Inspired by Rene Shonerd’s presentation on reframing change management, Dave reviews the alignment of change management with project management. Read on to learn about the 5-step ADKAR model. (No, it’s not a Star Wars reference!)

Further reading: Reframe Your Approach to Change Management: Welcome to the Machine by Dave Coriale

7. It’s agile, not free-for-all development

What are the key differences between waterfall and agile development methodologies? How do you decide which is right for your project? Dave clears up some common misconceptions.

Further reading: Use agile techniques to move a project through a waterfall world by Gretchen Steenstra, PMP

8. Bring association technology vendors to the table together to avoid playing ‘the blame game’

Ever played Whac-A-Mole? Just when you get one problem (mole) whacked, up pops another! It can seem that way when implementing technology, particularly when the process involves multiple systems and vendors. Tobin tames the terrors by calling a technology summit.

Further reading: Trust: key to a successful vendor/client relationship by Tobin Conley

9. The 5 AMS Trends You Need to Know

All this year, voices throughout the association community have been asking, “Is the AMS dead?” Loretta even participated in a standing-room-only #tech15 session on the topic. Here, she examines the first (and perhaps her favorite) of five trends in AMS development: integration.

Further reading: 5 Tips for Selecting an AMS Vendor by Loretta DeLuca, FASAE