New Membership Management System

Hello Federation Representatives (cc: Federation Presidents and BOD),

This is a follow-up report on the new online registration system. Please read the attached email I sent in April for the general design and the background information. You can also look at the FAQ page. Here is a brief summary of the new system

  1. Designed so that individual members take ownership of their account and records. They can check the promotion and registration records on their own.
  2. The registration workflow will be automated. Gone will be our task of exchanging excel files and paper checks. Individual members (or their delegates) will register and pay online. They can and should verify their profiles.
  3. Federation and dojo representatives will be able to check (and approve) registration records for their members.

The AUSKF board has approved last month that we start using the new system with next year’s registration (April 1, 2017-March 31, 2018). As a heads up, here is the transitional timeline we anticipate:

  1. For registrations of this year’s membership (now through 3/31/2017), we will continue to use the old method of excel spreadsheet and paper check. There is a possibility that we may have to halt this process temporarily.
  2. Starting in January or February, each registered member (or their delegate) will be asked to create their online account and find their existing record online.
  3. In March, members or their delegates will be asked to register and pay online for the 2017 membership.

We plan to provide guidance and help. Some time in January, we will demonstrate, via youtube videos or video conferencing, (1) a step-by-step registration guide for all registering members and (2) administrative functionalities for federation/dojo reps. We anticipate that a transition to the new system will be straight-forward to a vast majority of members. For the minority that we cannot reach out, we hope that their fellow dojo members will be able to help, for example, by hosting a registration drive, paying on their behalf with credit card with check reimbursement, doing registrations on their behalf, and so on.

The new system will be vastly more efficient but comes with a price as online payment involves fees. When a registration payment is collected for both the AUSKF and your federation, the AUSKF will cover the entire overhead, remit the local federation fees to your bank account, and retain the rest. Due to the rising operation costs for membership management, member activities, and insurance increases, the AUSKF board has determined it is necessary to raise membership fees to $60 (adult) and $30 (17 and under AND full-time students), effective for the 2017 membership and onward. The last time the fee schedule was changed was 2011 ($25 to $40), primarily to offset insurance costs.

Finally, I would like to warn you that all the desired features may not be available from the start. This is due to the resource constraint we face. Travis Stronach and Steve Hoff have been volunteering their time to build the system from scratch. As such, the system may not be complete with all the bells and whistles that you may expect from a commercial product–it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. The plan is to start small, add features over time, and improve the system as we go along. I hope you will come to appreciate the work of Travis and Steve and understand their constraints as well.

We look forward to working with you. Thank you.

Kotaro Yoshida
Treasurer



On Sun, Apr 24, 2016 at 11:21 AM, Kotaro Yoshida wrote:
Hello Friends,

First of all, I would like to thank all of you for submitting membership applications and sending payments. I have process most of them and updated our database. The total registered membership is 5,040 as of 4/1/2016, up 5.1% from the same time last year. From now on, please use the late registration file for additional applications and stack all registering members on one spreadsheet, regardless of their dojo affiliations.

I have a good news to report to you. The AUSKF has approved of our online membership management system at the recent board meeting in Seattle. I believe this is going to be a real game-changer. If successfully implemented, it will save us hours and hours of work, enable faster job-processing, improve the quality of the database, and facilitate communication to and among individual members.

Here is some background information, but you can skip the next two paragraphs if you are busy. When I took office as the AUSKF Treasurer in fall 2014, I inherited a daunting task of membership registrations, payment processing, and related inquiries from the general membership. Inoshita sensei, my predecessor, did a pioneering work of building a database using Microsoft Access, which significantly improved search functionality and helped with responding to inquiries. When the work was transferred to me, I was surprised to learn that membership data needed to be entered manually into the Access file. This required a lot of manpower, costing the AUSKF financially.

To make the story short, I found a way to import Excel data into Access electronically. The problem, however, is that it takes me a significant amount of time converting some of the excel files into an exportable format. Furthermore, many members forget to report their ID numbers, resulting in multiple IDs for the same individual. More fundamentally, there seems be a lot of redundant work–dojo representatives need to report to you, and you report to me, and I enter all the info into the database.

That brings us to why this new system makes sense. Simply, each individual kenshi will directly register with AUSKF. When the person registers himself online, he signs in to the system, corrects his information if necessary, and can check his record and ID number for himself. Importantly, the federation reps and dojo reps will play NO role in this picture. You will be relieved of compiling spreadsheet, receiving and issuing checks, and answering many membership-related inquiries. You simply tell them to go online and check for themselves.

The payment will be made online. Once an individual submits a membership application on the system, he will be prompted to make a combined payment ($80 for a person that belongs to MWKF). Once the payment is made, a confirmation and receipt will be issued. The payment will then be distributed automatically to the AUSKF bank account ($40) and to the MWKF’s ($40). The system can be configured for federation-specific fee structures, rules and regulations.

You may be worried about losing access to your federation membership information. Rest assured, we will share your federation membership data with you, which can be downloadable in an excel and other formats. As federation representatives, you can continue to manage your database offline or take advantage of the new online platform in order verify their records and profiles for promotion and other purposes,

This system is being developed by your fellow kenshis who share the vision to streamline the workflow and create a better system for membership management. Travis Stronach and Steve Hoff from Minneapolis have been volunteering their time and expertise to develop this exciting web application. I saw their demonstration at the board meeting, and it looked intuitive and functional. Since Travis and Steve wrote the program from scratch, the application is flexible and can accommodate additional features. For example, based on a suggestion by Jean Kodama sensei, they are implementing a batch entry feature where a dojo’s representative can register its dojo members on their behalf, or a federation’s representative can register its members.

As Travis and Steve continue to develop the application further, it is very important that they know how you use and manage the membership data as well as what you expect from the new system. In particular, I ask that you communicate with Travis, Steve, Jean and me regarding any specific features that you would like to have on the system.

Going forward, we would like to expand the application to automate the promotion paperwork, track event attendance, and do more. We welcome your ideas and thoughts in this development process.

We anticipate that the new system will be up and running by the end of this year. We will probably test the pilot before then and make sure that the system works and is stable.

Thank you again for all of your work. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, comments, and suggestions. Please send an email to appadmin@auskf.org regarding this matter.

Kotaro

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