18 Tech Resources to Help Your Association Work Smarter and Faster

February 16, 2021 Maddie Grant

Are you working to change your culture but find yourself overwhelmed by all the technology resources available to your association? You’re not alone. 

Our association clients often ask us to recommend the “best” technology resources to assist their efforts, but it’s not that easy. Picking the “best” solution is specific to what you need to reach your goals. What we can do is tell you about a range of digital products focused on strengthening your intranet, collaboration, feedback, performance reviews, employee and volunteer recognition, and innovation. 

As you review these options, ask whether the technology will help you shape your culture and, ultimately, increase organizational and individual success, driving growth. 

Here are a few technologies to consider.

18 Tech Resources that Your Association Needs Now

Association Resources for Intranets and Communities

Powerful intranets can often check more than one box for large associations with physically distant employees — interactive org chart, space for conversations, even functionality related to some of the categories below, like feedback and performance management. These plays tend to fall into the “high-investment, high-return” category, so smaller associations might be drawn to a different solution. Some examples:

  1. Jostle. Dubbed a “people engagement” platform, it covers events, newsfeed, and “shout outs” to fellow employees. Jostle includes an organization chart and employee directory (with expertise info) and facilitates team discussions to encourage collaboration. 
  2. Limeade. This platform offers well-being, engagement and inclusion solutions, including communications capabilities. They say the solutions are “mobile-first, grounded in science and help organizations reach all employees — no matter where they work.”
  3. Igloo. Igloo calls their product a “digital workplace solution,” focusing on communication, collaboration, knowledge management, and culture. Its features include blogs (and microblogs), file sharing, forums, people directories, collaborative virtual spaces, and to-do lists.


Collaboration and Project Management for the Association Space

This is one of the more “evolved” categories, as some of the software solutions have been around for quite a while. They help teams track complicated projects and are particularly helpful if team members work in different departments. We’ve seen associations use them to track large communication projects like annual reports, handle IT requests, and manage AMS implementations. One of the primary benefits is reducing and redirecting email traffic into other forms of communication so that information, documents, and momentum are not lost.

  1. Asana. Focused on organizations, this software product allows you to create projects and tasks that are assigned to individuals on the team. At the more advanced levels, you can create and share dashboards and also accomplish basic communication and information sharing related to the various projects. 
  2. Basecamp. Basecamp is another team organization platform, but this one is focused on document sharing as well as managing tasks.
  3. Zoho. This one is designed specifically to work for software design teams, though its functionality certainly works for other teams as well. 
  4. Trello. This platform is more focused on straightforward team collaboration than full-service project management. You create “boards” on which you can place “cards” that have details, to-dos, and even threaded conversations.
  5. Slack. This tool is far on the collaboration side of the spectrum, allowing teams to communicate and share information more effectively.
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Feedback and Performance Management for Association Leaders

In our recent book, The Non-Obvious Guide to Employee Engagement, we mention that performance reviews are a frequent target for changes related to culture and engagement – if engagement is about being successful, then it follows that we should be measuring success somehow, and performance reviews can at least partially fill that need. No matter where your association falls on the continuum between conducting no annual reviews to reviewing employees on shorter, regular schedules, these tools can make the process easier and more meaningful.

  1. Align. This is a software solution that PROPEL uses daily to make sure that all of our team members are on the same page as far as aligning big-picture goals with daily tasks. 
  2. Small Improvements. Declaring that the annual review is “dead,” this solution focuses on supporting 1-1 meetings, real-time recognition, and 360-degree feedback.
  3. iRevü. This tool can be integrated into a larger, annual performance review process, and focuses on requesting, giving, and receiving specific feedback. 
  4. PropFuel. As the name indicates, this platform started as a recognition software but has since evolved. It still allows employees to give each other positive reinforcement (“props”), but the main features are now focused on enabling both employees and customers to provide feedback to the company. ASAE uses prop fuel to manage its member engagement efforts.

RELATED ARTICLE>>Leadership Team Feeling Divided? Get Them On the Same Page

Recognition and Rewards for Association Teams

If you take the concept of feedback and marry it with some kind of spot compensation to the employee (financial or otherwise), then you have entered the realm of recognition software. Although this type of software is used more often in for-profit companies, rewarding staff members or volunteers with this type of recognition can work very well in associations.

  1. Bonusly. A classic example of the points/rewards version of recognition. Employees give each other recognition through the platform, which earns them points that can be cashed in for rewards. 
  2. Teamphoria. Also a classic example, but rewards/recognition is just one component of this engagement software (they also have pulse surveys, performance review, and communication).
  3. Motivosity. Motivosity replaces points and rewards with cash. The system gives each employee a set amount of actual cash to distribute to peers as spot awards. Money they receive can either be spent on company-defined merchandise or gift cards.
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Innovation in Purpose-Driven Leadership

In the context of engagement and culture, innovation refers more broadly to the capacity to do things differently, run experiments, and be creative. Associations currently find themselves in an environment that requires innovation — creating new revenue streams, designing safer trade shows and meetings, and engaging members virtually, just to name a few challenges. These platforms provide space and guidance for developing new ideas across the association.

  1. IdeaScale. This tool is billed as an “ideation community,” and it has specific applications for different markets, including technology, government, nonprofit, and small business. The software is straight idea management, from ideation, to refinement, to merging, reviewing, and implementing. 
  2. Spigit. More appropriate for large enterprises, it has more sophisticated functionality for managing ideas that come from a larger universe of individuals, offering separate treatment for ideas coming from employees, partners, and customers, for example. The tool also includes AI-powered analytics.
  3. Sketchboard. An “online endless whiteboard,” this is a visual approach to idea management and feedback, allowing team members to share and develop ideas collaboratively online.

Digital technology resources have so much to offer associations. They can certainly help streamline routine functions, connect employees or members in physically distant locations, increase engagement, and foster innovation. Online tools, however, cannot solve culture problems in isolation. 

Having a personal business coach supporting your goals is the best way to get the kinds of hands-on help you need to know which systems will work for you now and which ones can be implemented later. 

Our culture-driven business coaching program will teach you how to build a dynamic and agile learning organization that is focused on results—through the proven methodology behind the Rockefeller Habits plus an action-oriented focus on culture.

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com

Maddie Grant

Maddie Grant, CAE, is an expert culture designer and digital strategist who focuses on helping organizations unlock the power in their culture and navigate culture change. She has specific expertise in digital transformation and generational differences in the workplace. She has explored the language of workplace culture for several years through her books, co-authored with her partner in business and life Jamie Notter, including Humanize: How People-Centric Organizations Succeed in a Social World (2011), the Amazon category best-seller When Millennials Take Over: Preparing for the Ridiculously Optimistic Future of Business (2015) and the Non-Obvious Guide to Employee Engagement (2019).
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