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Client Mission & Objectives

Dynamic Communities, Inc. (DCI) was looking to enhance its members’ online experience by providing more self-service tools and online programs.

DCI had been experiencing rapid growth for several years when, in 2014, they realized that they needed a new membership management system to meet their expanding needs. DCI had two main objectives. First, they wanted to offer their customers a better user experience by improving their online self-serve tools. Second, they wanted to consolidate several systems into one robust Microsoft Dynamics CRM system that would improve staff efficiency and allow them to develop closer relationships with their customers.

The key to this effort was developing a rebranded set of web sites and online communities for DCI’s four distinct Microsoft Dynamics user groups (AXUG, CRMUG, GPUG & NAVUG). To achieve this, DCI planned to completely redesign their web sites in parallel with the development of their new membership management system. DCI communities are run on Higher Logic’s Connected Community platform and the plan included building a tight integration with CRM to this system.

This was an ambitious undertaking that would require finding a partner or partners that could handle the rebranding and consolidation in parallel while at the same time providing a seamless
integration with the existing Higher Logic platform.

Project Challenges

All projects of this size and scope are accompanied by risks and challenges that need to be managed and overcome.

Coordination

Having three vendors working in parallel added additional complexity and risk to the project. This required Cobalt, Higher Logic, Brightfind and DCI to develop a communication strategy that was both comprehensive and efficient.

Timing

It was critical to all parties involved to have the new web sites and CRM system up and running prior to DCI’s user group summit in October of 2014. This was less than five months from the project kick-off.

Change

DCI was using Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 and this project included an upgrade to CRM 2013. This meant educating staff on both Cobalt’s system and the updated user interface that came with the most recent update from Microsoft.

The Implementation

Following our agile implementation methodology, Cobalt first deployed Membership Dynamics on a staging server and configured the system to match DCI’s membership and event management needs. Cobalt is also a partner member of CRMUG which gave the team a unique perspective as they worked with DCI, Higher Logic and Brightfind to setup the system.

Once we had the essential membership elements in place, we worked with DCI staff to create their customer self-service modules. To achieve this, we worked closely with both Brightfind and Higher Logic to ensure the best possible user experience and integration with the online communities.

Home Page with Cobalt Web Elements

Cobalt implemented our recently developed Web Elements which allow users to embed member portal components directly into the web site pages. This eliminates the outdated “member portal” concept and combined with our single sign-on with Higher Logic results in a seamless user experience. To overcome the challenges and risks identified at the beginning of the project, Cobalt worked diligently with all project stakeholders to define a clear communication strategy as part of our standard project charter.

Most of our clients deploy a single staff interface connected to a single web site or portal, but in DCI’s case we needed to connect the staff interface to 4 unique web sites. Additionally, these web sites needed to be seamlessly connected so that members with access to more than one site could easily move between sites. This required careful planning and coordination during both the design and testing phases of the project.

Finally, we wanted to make sure that DCI was able to view all of their member activities in their new CRM system. We leveraged Cobalt’s engagement activities to be able to track staff interaction (phone calls and emails) alongside community activity as well as meeting/class attendance and volunteer activities. DCI is now working to use all of these activities as the basis for developing a recognition program based on total engagement.

Outcome

DCI has experienced tremendous growth in the past 3 years and Membership Dynamics has scaled to meet the demand. Summit (annual user group conference) registrations have increased from 2,000 in 2014 to 6,500 in 2016.

Update

In 2017, DCI upgraded to Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the latest version of Cobalt Membership Dynamics including taking advantage of Cobalt’s new multi-currency capabilities to continue their expansion into Europe and other international markets.  There were over 6,600 registrations for Summit 2017 in Nashville, and DCI expects around 10,000 registrations for Summit 2018 in Phoenix.

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