Cobalt’s association management software (AMS) is built on top of Microsoft Dynamics, which means our customers not only get to leverage the features included in Cobalt’s out-of-the-box solution, but also those included in Microsoft’s Power Platform. In our most recent webinar, Using the Microsoft Power Platform: A Real World Example for Associations, we explained how organizations can combine Cobalt’s product functionality with Microsoft’s Power Platform to create an Association Networking software experience without any custom development.

We demonstrated how this can work through a real-world example. The solution we showed uses the Power Platform to facilitate a “membership matching” service for professional networking. Here’s how it works at a high level:

  1. People create a profile with certain things like their job title, industry, etc.
  2. Once they’ve set up their profile, they can submit match requests where they detail the qualities of a person they are looking to network with.
  3. The solution then uses Power Automate (part of the Power Platform) to go through all of the profiles and finds a profile that matches the criteria in the request.

This solution requires very little upkeep— an organization can set it up once and never think about it again, but it will continue to provide value to members.

But before we get any further, let’s take a step back.

What is the Power Platform?

Microsoft’s Power Platform is comprised of four different products. These different products allow business users to build end-to-end business solutions in a no-code or low code environment (i.e. you don’t need to be a developer).

The four Power Platform products are:

  1. Power Virtual Agents
  2. Power Apps
  3. Power BI
  4. Power Automate

Which Power Platform products were used for Association Networking?

The matching solution uses Power BI to analyze the data collected during the sign-up and request process, but the matching itself is done by Power Automate.

Power Automate is the automation arm of the Power Platform. In the simplest terms, this is how organizations can set up varying levels of automation. Organizations can basically set up their own “if then” statements that will trigger workflows or actions.

Power Automate is great for creating statements that follow the “when this happens… do this thing” logic. Here are a few easy ways associations can use Power Automate to automate certain tasks:

  1. Send out a survey to a class attendee once they’ve attended a class using Microsoft’s Customer Voice
  2. Notify the marketing team when a tweet that mentions your organization with a negative sentiment is posted  
  3. Send a final approval to a CEO or Membership Director when granting certain memberships

How was Power Automate used to facilitate Association Networking?

However, you can also use Power Automate for more complicated processes that involve querying data, like matching membership match requests with a relevant profiles. Here is the logic of our membership match automation we used for the webinar:

  1. Kick off when a membership match request is submitted
  2. “Read” the requested criteria, like requested area of expertise, requested role, requested international preference, etc
  3. Find MM profiles with corresponding criteria
    1. If the MM request shows the contact is looking to do some general networking with someone who has an expertise in technology, the automation would bring back an active MM profile of someone who has an expertise in technology who is also looking to do some general networking
    2. If the MM request shows the contact is looking for a mentor who has an expertise in technology, the automation would bring back an active MM profile of someone who has an expertise in technology who is interested in being a mentor
  4. Randomly select an active MM profile with the correct criteria
  5. If the relationship of the contacts is an “equal” one (Ex: both people are looking to do some general networking), set the randomly selected profile on the request and send an email notification to both people alerting them of the new match
  6. This will make the match appear in the ‘My Matches’ grid on the portal

But how did we add the approval step?

  1. If the relationship is not equal (ex: the requestor is looking for a mentor), send the request through an approval step that requires the potential mentor to approve the request. The request is sent to the potential mentor’s inbox and can be configured to include relevant information
    1. If the mentor approves the request, the contacts will be matched and both people will be notified of the new match and will appear on the ‘My Matches’ grid on the portal for both parties
    2. If the mentor rejects the request, the automation will start over and the request will be sent back through the process to be matched with another potential mentor
A match completed from the Association Networking