In the recent 'Looking Forward 2016' report from Association Laboratory, which examines potential impacts on the business operations of associations, it was interesting to note that 6 of the top 7 impacts that concern association executives relate to the creation, management, delivery, and quality of information, content, and education. These were:
According to Association Laboratory in Looking Forward 2016, “The leading concern among senior executives remains managing members’ expectations regarding convenient methods of information delivery. Reduced sponsorships or contributions and creating compelling professional development and training programs round out the top three concerns for 2016.”
The concern around creating compelling professional development and training programs is reflected at a more detailed level when specifically examining workforce factors that impact associations, where this is the top concern, closely followed by members’/organizations’ ability to pay for/attend professional development activities.
In Looking Forward 2016, “Growing demand for online and virtual training opportunities is a significant concern, and the issue of configuring and pricing education or credentialing products is increasing in importance. All reflect a concern for finding affordable and convenient means of ensuring a well-trained workforce.”
So how can associations address these concerns, and what steps can they take to improve their ability to reduce the impact of these workforce factors on their operations?
One strategy that might help associations to address these concerns might be to review the technology they are using to deliver information and education programs to members. Typically, both information and education can be delivered and/or managed using a number of technology resources and through a variety of channels. These may include:
- association website,
- social media,
- association management system (AMS) or a CRM system,
- webinar platform
- other systems and tools
Now, we can understand why the primary concern for associations is meeting member’s expectations regarding convenient methods of information delivery! To be available and responsive to a diverse audience, including membership and the general public, associations must use an increasing number of tools and platforms to ensure effective and engaging communication, especially around the area of professional development and training. However, using a number of different tools and resources is not the most efficient or effective way to manage communication, and could result in increased administrative costs in time and resources for associations.
One technology that may help to ease the burden of managing and delivering compelling, high quality information and education programs, and which could contribute to strategic efforts to reduce economic impacts on the association, is an association learning management system (LMS).
An association LMS is designed specifically to support the needs of associations in delivering, managing, tracking and analysing their professional development and training programs for a variety of audiences. Let’s explore some of the workforce factors that concern association executives to see how an association LMS could help.
- Creating compelling professional development /training programs,
- Providing professional development/training through multiple delivery channels,
- Greater demand for online and/or virtual training opportunities,
- Producing professional development/training to serve diverse audiences,
- Supporting member companies/members’ employment/career development goals.
An association LMS provides an attractive, easy to navigate platform through which learners can access all the education resources provided by your association. The course catalog provides a searchable directory of all educational offerings (online, virtual, live and recorded webinars, classroom, blended, instructor-led, etc.), which is available online, anytime, anywhere to your members and other learners, when integrated with your AMS and/or association website. The association LMS can help you to better manage and track training delivered through multiple channels, whether this is managing facilities for classroom-based training, tracking attendance at live webinars, or analysing participation and completion of online and blended courses.
Each course can be made available to all learners, or to specific groups, enabling the association to deliver personalized learning to diverse audiences, based on learner profiles and training history, which is tracked and managed by the association LMS. Each item in the catalog can be aligned with requirements for continuing education, professional development, credentialing, or certification, allowing learners to easily identify which courses they need to complete to meet their employment and career development goals.
‘Creating compelling professional development/training programs’ and ’Members’ more limited ability to pay for/attend professional development activities’, are listed as a top ten concern in both the primary and workforce impacts that concern associations. In our next blog, we will explore how an Association LMS could help associations to address their concerns regarding the potential economic impacts of workforce factors, as outlined in the Looking Forward 2016 report.