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March 15, 2024

Digital Transformation Can Start Small and Have Exponential Impacts

Setting up the right systems powers a better experience for your association members, and time saved for staff.  

Using Technology to Make Processes More Efficient

In a recent episode of The Member Engagement Show podcast, Kunal Johar, co-founder and CTO of OpenWater by ASI, discussed digital transformation and the impact that even one person can have. He also delved into how Higher Logic Thrive Submissions and Review can help redefine association award, abstract, scholarship, and grant programs. 

“The Definition of digital transformation is ‘using technology to make processes more efficient.’ And literally my first thought was, haven’t we all been doing this forever?” says Kunal. “Digging a little deeper, of course, if you’re making a big change where you need a lot of buy-in from a lot of people, it makes sense to have a large-scale process for that type of digital transformation….but there are so many small changes that if people are empowered to just make those changes, they can make everyone’s life a bit better.” 

In today’s landscape, Kunal emphasized the importance of creating simple online processes for your members and streamlining workflows for your staff so you can efficiently deliver the kind of experience association members expect. When it comes to Higher Logic Thrive Submissions and Review, for example, associations can create user-friendly online submission forms for their awards, abstracts, scholarships, grants, and more. This improves the submission process for members, staff, and reviewers: members don’t have to fuss with unwieldy PDFs, staff don’t have to keep track of emailed submissions or messy spreadsheets, and the committees that review submissions can do so easily through one portal. 

“From the members’ point of view, if you’re filling out a PDF and having to send that submission in via email, and maybe you didn’t fill it out correctly so now there’s some back and forth, that’s really annoying, right? It’s a lot simpler to use an online form.” says Kunal. “So Higher Logic Thrive Submissions and Review makes a better, more pleasant experience for the members doing these things online. And from a credibility point of view, it makes sure all the required fields have been collected, the fields are valid, and it’s a process that can be tracked and reported on, minimizing mistakes and making it easier to measure success.” 

And with community integration, Higher Logic Thrive Submissions and Review is also positioned to make filling out submissions easier for your members, because it can pull relevant information from their community profile to pre-populate form fields. 

Streamline submissions, simplify reviews, and effortlessly manage awards, abstracts, scholarships, grants and more with Higher Logic Thrive Submissions and Review!

woman helping digitally transform her organization

One Person Can Make a Difference 

 For some associations, the idea of trying to update processes you’ve used for ages or evaluate and adjust your tech stack can feel huge and daunting. But the good news is, even small changes and the actions of individual staff members can result in improvements that have impacts on the whole organization. 

 “If one person wants to make a difference, they can make a HUGE difference. Digital transformation can start small when organizations empower people to improve those day-to-day things that don’t require budget approval or widespread organizational buy-in,” says Kunal. 

He shared an example of how his organization began collecting answers to HR questions in a searchable Wiki so that staff could easily find answers to repeat questions without having to interrupt HR staff. The initial time investment of setting up the Wiki resulted in compounding returns because, once it was in place, any new questions answered were easily documented for others to find. 

Kunal’s example shows how, with the right technology, some curiosity, and the motivation, willingness, and organizational support to try something new, anyone can improve day-to-day processes at their organization. Often, those improvements are something you can keep building on over time. And forward-thinking organizations and technology vendors shouldn’t stand in the way. 

“The more you’re willing to learn, the more you should be able to do with the tools you have. The learners should be able to become the doers. But in order for the learners to become the doers, I think software companies should position their software in a way that people can use all of it without needing to pay more consulting hours every time you want to implement something new.” 

Redefining Submission-Oriented Programs

That’s why, when it came to the partnership between Higher Logic and Open Water to offer Higher Logic Thrive Submissions and Review, it was important to empower users to explore and maximize the value of the tool. By providing unlimited usage and customizable templates, Higher Logic and Open Water are democratizing digital transformation within associations. 

“People are a lot more tech-savvy and curious to figure things out than they used to be – so we don’t want to get in the way of people maximizing the value of this tool…At one time or another, we’ve all explored or used templates from popular tools like Microsoft Word to help us save time. So that’s what we’ve done with Higher Logic Thrive Submissions and Review. We allow people to make their own submission and review process – for example for awards and nominations. And we made it so you can share what you build with your whole organization, or you have the option of sharing it with all other Open Water and Higher Logic Thrive Submissions and Review customers. So, imagine you spend time solving a problem and come up with a solution – now you have the option to share that solution with others and they can start from your template.” 

There are also some standard submission form templates available in Higher Logic Thrive Submissions and Review to help associations get started. 

“We have 20 templates based on common use cases for associations. Plus, any that users decide to share. And other users can piggyback off that work and iterate on it without having to start from scratch… And the great thing about what we built between Open Water and Higher Logic is it’s unlimited usage. So maybe you solve one workflow today…and then later in the year, or next year, you come back and add five more workflows. You can build on what you already created or already learned. So each time you solve a workflow you don’t have to rewrite the process or spend more money or get budget approval or ask someone if you can add a new license or something. It empowers the user of the software to be the first line of digital transformation.” 

Getting Maximum Value from Your Association Software

In all, the conversation with Kunal underscored the best practice of pursuing operational efficiencies wherever they can be found, making the most of the tools you have, and ensuring your member experiences – including submitting for awards, scholarships, grants, or some other form of recognition – are easy and enjoyable for the member. Staff often already have ideas for improving systems, so it’s also important for executive directors and organizations to support and harness the potential of power users to drive efficiency across their teams. 

team meeting talking about digital transformation

“I think it’s important for organizations to ask themselves, what tools do we already have? And are we using them in all the ways we can, maximizing their value?’” says Kunal. “What’s nice is that, for a lot of software out there now, you make an investment to do one thing, but you can keep solving more problems and get value exponentially. You paid once, and you solve that one problem. But then you can solve five more problems, or 10 more problems. And you still only paid once. So as a takeaway I really encourage people to do an inventory of what they have – because many organizations are sitting on a gold mine of digital transformation tools.” 

March 15, 2024

Higher Logic Thrive is Built for Associations

We have solutions for everything you need to create an engaging member experience, from an intuitive online community, to volunteer management, to award and abstract submission collection, and more!

Kelly Whelan

Kelly Whelan is the Content Marketing Manager for Higher Logic. In this role, she develops content to support association professionals and advise them on member engagement and communication strategy. She also hosts Higher Logic’s podcast, The Member Engagement Show. She has ~10 years of experience working in marketing for associations and nonprofits.