The Hail Mary Pass That Scored For This Sports Association

Relying on outdated software systems, Laurie Bollig helped draw up a game plan that spelled victory.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had this happen: You’re explaining a complicated process to a new, much younger employee and halfway through it, they say, “Oh, well you could just do this, right?” And with a couple of keystrokes, they’re done in two minutes instead of 20.

Kids, these days, right? You can either be annoyed by them or learn from them. Laurie Bollig, Director of Membership Engagement for the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), chooses the latter. “My personal standpoint is I love learning new technology. I am…not young anymore. [Laughs] I’ve got two college age kids and I am always trying to keep up with what they’re doing. There’s a lot of really great technology out and why shouldn’t I be on the cutting edge, too?”

That attitude recently spilled over into her workplace, because as she describes it, CoSIDA had some technological challenges when she got there. “We had several systems in place but none of them really talked to each other,” she explains. “We did not have a way to search and learn about the demographic makeup of our membership.” CoSIDA had no speedy way to gather, organize and analyze data, so if they wanted to send a targeted message to a select group of their 3,000+ members, for example, they would have to manually grab information from a complex maze of spreadsheets to create yet another spreadsheet.

Put into sports terms, that’s kind of like a basketball team having to break out a pump to re-inflate the ball every time they want to take a shot. You’re not going to win a lot of championships that way.

So Bollig and her team led the charge to make a change. CoSIDA had a group think and compiled all of the issues that were preventing them from efficiently managing their members and member data, then researched a product that could provide solutions. Happily, for everyone’s sanity, they found an AMS (Association Management System) that would both satisfy their needs and, importantly, because of a short implementation period, be able to launch just in time for renewals and new member registration. “We started with Impexium last August and it worked like a charm!” she says.

So now she can sit back and relax, right? Not exactly. Changemakers like Bollig are always looking for what comes next, and for CoSIDA, there’s a lot. “I’m still not quite breathing,” she admits. “We are still in a phase of rolling out three major software changes to our members all at once!”

Change is never easy, but Bollig subscribes to the philosophy that it is better to suffer through some pain now to get positive results rather than sticking with the same old same old that continues to build frustration for both members and staff. “We’re extremely busy all the time, so there’s not a lot of time to explore new options. But you have to break out of that ‘we’ve always done it this way’ mentality or you will never grow and reach your potential,” she notes.

“Like all associations, we end up having to do a little bit of everything, so personally, the goal of using Impexium was to get back to really focusing on the things that are part of our job descriptions,” she adds. And it’s worked. Bollig and her team can now devote quality time to thinking about innovation and creative planning rather than worrying about their membership management system breaking down.

Sure, being in the middle of a 180-degree change in the game plan isn’t always a ton of fun, but Bollig says, “I feel confident that a little bit down the road, we’ll be able to look back at our decision to go with Impexium and say, ‘Wow, that really benefited our members.’ And that’s ultimately what we’re here to accomplish.” From communication to organization, the ball is moving forward for CoSIDA.

Change may be the only constant in business—but that doesn’t make organizational transformation any easier. Association leaders are balancing competing priorities and increasing demands, enough to make even the most driven executive fall victim to the inertia of the status-quo.

But not every association stays still while the world seems to change around them. For her willingness to upset the association technology status-quo, Impexium is proud to recognize Laurie Bollig as one of 2018’s Association Technology Disruptors!