A message from our cto
Today is the day. The future is now. V-Force is here!
What an exciting milestone for the V-Force project team, everyone at Virtual as well as our clients! As you know, the first release of our V-Force platform launched today. We’ve been talking about this since we started our pilot late last year. But what is it? Why are we doing this? How will this help?
Our membership-based clients have always struggled with their technology tools. They are expensive. They don’t work together. There isn’t one tool that does everything they need, so lots of separate tools are needed. It takes a long time to get them all set up, training takes a long time and therefore adoption can be impacted. All that leads to frustration with the association members, boards and vendors who work with and support them – including us!
Internally we also have frustration. So many tools for us to learn, so many things these tools don’t do. So much manual work, lots of internal training, and reliance on individuals with specific knowledge that others on the team don’t have. And then try to create meaningful reports / dashboards – that’s a whole other set of complications.
We have been talking about these challenges for decades. Over the last couple of years we have been looking into potential solutions – partner with a vendor to build something for us, keep looking at other tools – something better has to be out there, or build something on our own. After a lot of investigation, we decided to build a pilot at the end of last year to determine if building a solution would be a path we want to head down.
Through the pilot process we were able to verify that we had chosen a great platform upon which we could build an integrated solution. We verified that this solution has the ability to connect a number of disparate tools and do it in many cases with single sign-on capabilities. The platform we selected is Salesforce.com. They have been around since 1999, they have 150,000 customers and 30,000 employees. 83% of fortune 500 companies are SF customers and their 2018 revenue was nearly $10.5 billion. If there is comfort in numbers, there is certainly comfort in knowing we have chosen a well-funded and heavily used platform!
We verified that the development partner we chose, Venn Science, is able to not only build the technology solution but also able to help us define and implement standardized ways of doing the things we do today, transforming our business processes and automating many manual tasks.
In May we began our several year process of building this platform. Now, just 4 short months later we are ready with the first of several releases. What is this? What does it mean to you?
Today we are launching the foundation of our membership management system that will house all client membership data. We are also launching a new phase with our Nashville Service Center. The service center is already supporting our events team and now with this V-Force launch they will be responsible for all membership management activities for each client on the platform!
Our inaugural 3 clients are AECC, ARAWC, SAFECode. These clients were selected because they met the criteria of being clients whose data is currently managed on a spreadsheet and who have relatively low volume of membership changes. This gives us a safe set of clients to start with.
The next set of clients we are considering fall into two categories. One category includes clients with membership data we currently manage in spreadsheets. We are looking to get those clients onto V-Force by the end of the year.
The second category we are looking at are the 7 clients that are currently on iMIS 10. These clients are critical because the version of iMIS they’re running is no longer supported by the vendor, so we need to do something, relatively soon. These migrations will be slightly more complex than the spreadsheet client migrations. We are starting our initial analysis on what it will take to move them and will work with the client services leads in the upcoming months on the best timing for each client.
We are excited to see the collaboration between our service center and our client services teams as we roll out V-Force! This is new to all of us, so let’s embrace our corporate value of innovation as we display our corporate behaviors of teamwork and living our transformation.
Our next platform release will be in January 2020. At that time, we are currently planning on adding working group management, document management, calendaring, meeting attendance tracking, voting and community collaboration. These features will enable another large set of clients to migrate to the platform. We will work with you to come up with a plan on which clients can migrate when we get closer to that date.
On behalf of myself and the entire executive team, I’d like to take a moment to thank the cross-functional task force that has worked very hard over the last year to make this happen. I’d like to also thank those of you who have engaged in informational sessions, testing and other V-Force events. We will be engaging you more as we continue to transform our fundamental service delivery processes and expand the service delivery platform.
But for now, please join me in celebrating this momentous achievement! We’ve come a long way and are really going to shake up the industry with this platform. The future IS now!