24 Jan 2023

The features that membership organisations should demand from their ERP and CRM software in 2023

For membership organisations and associations looking to the future, empowering teams with the right tools to attract and serve members is crucial and as the digital world continues to expand, expectations continue to climb. A lacklustre member experience can no longer keep up with the demand for feeling valued and having a personalised connection - engagement tactics are of the upmost importance when wanting to retain loyal members.

With integrated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems – that boast best-in-class Customer Relationship Management (CRM) functionality – designed to drive this approach, a memorable member experience is just the start. Modern cloud solutions with their intuitive functionality allow staff to do their jobs quicker, easier and more creatively. For example, they give finance teams an enormous amount of time back due to automated workflows, offer senior management a holistic view and help to improve every member interaction thanks to built-in analytics and AI.

Now firmly into a new year full of new opportunities, we explore numerous features that membership associations should expect from an integrated ERP and CRM solution that’s fit for 2023.

It’s in the cloud

While potentially obvious (as many of us embrace the cloud without question in our personal lives), many associations continue to use disparate, on-premise software, meaning it can only be accessed on computers linked to the in-house servers. Events of 2020 delivered with it the need for out-of-office working, and hybrid roles are here to stay for 2023. Furthermore, these solutions are automatically updated with a whole host of refreshed and new features, often twice a year. While subscription based, they remove enormous outgoings associated with server requirements.

Aids moments-based marketing

Cross-channel and context marketing clearly have their benefits, but ‘moments-based’ marketing – which is individual, in real-time and predictive – is where the engagement magic happens. Modern CRM solutions can empower associations to explore real-time journey orchestration and help them identify key moments in prospective or current members’ experience journeys.

Remains well and truly in its support period

An increasing number of on-premise solutions have come to the end of their development lifecycles – like some on-premise Microsoft AX and CRM products – or are fast approaching, such as Sage 1000. When software is unsupported, there are not only huge risks to security and compliance, but no new features will ever become available, and a broken system can bring an organisation to a standstill. It’s bad news all round.

Facilitates external software integrations

Whether a membership organisation requires continued use of in-house developed software or uses a third-party logistics partner, it should expect its integrated solution to be just that and be able to connect other systems to the primary one. When connected with APIs, all data is available, facilitating a truthful view of finances, operations, marketing and service.

Leverages the power of data and AI

Whether bolstering interactions with members, driving insight to predict intent or the ability to identify and capitalise on sources of membership growth, CRM software is embracing the power of data and AI to achieve this and more. Organisations should be able to target current and prospective members through turbo-charged personalisation that is both creative and effective with their tools, from initial sign-up and onboarding to campaign engagement and re-subscription. Up-to-the-minute cloud software offers suggestions on channel, timing and content based on past success, and the target person’s profile, also created from a mixture of data and artificial intelligence.

Manages orders

Real-time inventory data, AI and machine learning can also be relied upon when it comes to the management of various stock and ordering processes. From welcome packs and literature to certifications and items to purchase, such as clothing, an organisation need never have too many or too few of what their members require. Order management modules within modern ERP solutions allow for automated fulfilment, supporting organisations to meet the ever-changing demands of volumes and therefore manage cash-flow more efficiently.

Forecasts and offers pipeline visibility

For leaders keen to make informed strategic decisions, integrated software that provides forecasting and pipeline intelligence can help membership organisations improve their planning. Whether it’s the ability to identify opportunities and understand required resources more effectively, or receive greater visibility into cash flow, forecasting tools empower associations to track performance and identify pipeline risks, in a 360-view.

Provides conversation intelligence

Conversation intelligence tools are now available to enhance the way sales or service teams are coached and developed, but they can also drive analytics and data-led insights via extractions from call recordings. Paired with the capture of customer interactions across multiple channels, conversation intelligence provides organisations with the ability to track performance, successful tactics and sentiment from calls with enquirers and members.

Automates invoices

There are so many tasks within a finance team’s remit that are time consuming but deliver little in return, so any solution fit for 2023 should be focusing on financial productivity, which brings profitability. Intelligent OCR (optical character recognition) results in the automated reading and recognition of invoices, increasing speed and accuracy. Self-service membership fee payments and onboarding, developed within broader interdepartmental action workflows, require little hands-on input. Even the most complex of financial processes – such as our customer Equity’s provision to collect and pay royalties to its 47,000 plus members – can be achieved. With an all-digital approach and the right software, end-to-end automation of accounts payable and receivable is easily achievable.

Has enhanced dashboards

To effectively understand members on a broad or granular level, CRM tools continue to evolve the offering of out-of-the-box insights, predictions, segments and measures that enhance time to value for users. Personalised or departmental dashboards should be fit-for-purpose and present data in a digestible way, while also allowing users to click through to specific areas to uncover even deeper data.

Reports efficiently

While dashboards provide real-time snapshots, reports are equally as important and should be a focus of a modern ERP and CRM solution. Demand varied out-of-the-box reports, but also the capability to easily customise required reports. Automation of reports – from their creation, to approval workflow and distribution via email or alert – is an indispensable feature for any organisation, freeing up hours of time that can be spent on actioning insights.

You may lack two or three of these functions in your current system, but if you’re missing the majority, then your organisation isn’t capitalising on the technology that 2023 has to offer. You may be missing countless opportunities to onboard new members, meaningfully engage and interact in new ways that bring loyalty and advocacy. Migration to a solution like Microsoft Dynamics 365 that is continually updated not only improves the member and staff experience, but it also increases efficiency and is a solid investment in the future success of your organisation.

About the author: Ian Robertson is the Sales and Marketing Director of BrightBridge, a UK-based technology consultancy offering Oracle NetSuite and Microsoft Dynamics 365 solutions. Ian has over 30 years of experience in ERP and CRM implementations. Prior to forming BrightBridge, Ian worked for a major US IT corporation, where he acquired a depth of knowledge around time saving efficiencies through technological integration and automation. 

Ian Robertson, BrightBridge Sales and Marketing Director

Ian Robertson, BrightBridge Sales and Marketing Director