Building a membership database for a non-profit
How Aciron does it
A state non-profit organization had a mission to speed the transition to a low-carbon future. Their team required a custom database application to manage their membership. They began by looking for a software development company that could understand their needs and develop a custom database.
A non-profit organization that provides discount heating oil and renewable energy to consumers was experiencing inefficiencies with their current database. The company has been working with a development company to build a custom online database application in PHP, Angular JS, and SQL Server as a tool for their customer service team, as well as a membership and financial reporting tool.
Slow progress on development, as well as a variety of bugs in the application, drove staff to search for a new software development company to help them bring the application to completion. The goal was to have a web-based application that could allow the staff to manage their member records, send and receive payment transactions, generate reports, as well as members to manage their membership online using a self-service portal.
Aciron began the project with an initial code exploration phase to determine the best strategy for continued development. After performing a high-level review of the application's front-end and source code, our consultants discovered that the code was not well structured, and that fixing bugs would likely cause additional issues elsewhere in the application. For this reason, Aciron recommended a full re-write of the application as the most efficient and scalable solution.
Once Aciron had a good understanding of the business and technical requirements for the application, we began development of the highest priority module. By taking a phased approach and breaking down development into smaller builds, the client was able to begin using the new features and functionality as soon as possible.
For each build, the Aciron team continued to collaborate with the client on defining functionality and translating those business needs into a fully-functional, bug-free application. The client was also able to provide feedback throughout the process by performing User Acceptance Testing ("UAT").
UAT gave the client's end users an opportunity to test-drive the system and identify any desired tweaks before rolling out the application to all users.
Aciron developed a management portal that combines all of the tools that the organization needs for customer service, membership management, and financial reporting. Key functionality of the application includes:
• Membership Management: Staff can view and approve member applications for their renewable energy and heating oil programs. Users can also search for members, merge duplicate accounts, manage the status of members' accounts, and track communications with members.
• Payment and Donation Management: Staff members can track members' previous payments and donations, as well as record new dues payments and donations.
• Extranet: Prospective members can apply for membership in the non-profit's programs or make donations to renewable energy funds. Current members have access to a members-only site where they can update their information, check oil prices, contact the organization, and make donations.
• Dealer Price Calculations: Staff can input daily wholesale prices, calculate averages, input survey data, and export reports on heating oil prices.
• Reports: Users can generate detailed reports on membership, donations, and financial data.
The client is extremely satisfied with the re-write of their old application and its expansion into a comprehensive portal, and continues to work with Aciron to add new functionality. Staff members are able to more easily manage membership data and provide improved customer service.
The extranet module of the application provides members with a more user-friendly way to apply for programs and connect with the organization. Thanks to the robust reporting module, the organization also has increased insight into their data, which allows them to improve their program offerings.