The Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) is dedicated to the support and development of chamber professionals who play a significant leadership role in communities of all sizes. There are roughly 3,000 chambers of commerce in the U.S. with at least one full-time staff person, and thousands more established as strictly volunteer entities. ACCE has more than 7,000 professional members in more than 1,300 chambers of commerce representing a wide range of local, regional and state chambers of all sizes.
As part of their services, ACCE has been conducting benchmarking studies for their members for several years. In the past, ACCE would collect data through their Association Management System (AMS) as well as through emails and online forms. Data would be aggregated and analyzed manually to generate a standardized report that would be distributed to all participants. Additionally, customized reports would be generated on an ad hoc basis for individual chambers if requested. The resulting reports, while valuable, were limited and labor intensive.
In 2014, ACCE contracted with Dynamic Benchmarking to create a new, web-based benchmarking platform that would combine two of their surveys and offer streamlined collection and analysis of key data points along with a customizable, on-demand reporting system accessible to both ACCE staff and members.
Dynamic Chamber Benchmarking (DCB) was launched in August of 2014 and combined ACCE’s operations and salary surveys into one, comprehensive study. DCB measures and compares key performance indicators in the areas of finance, staffing, salary, benefits, membership, programs and more. The new format allows secure collection of data in one place and, more importantly, an opportunity to see new correlations between different data points using custom data filters.
“Previously, we could compare salary and benefits of executives from chamber to chamber, certainly valuable data which we’re still collecting,” says ACCE Chief Operating Officer, Tamara Philbin. “Now, our members can look at how salary and staffing correlate to membership growth and program participation. They’re able to discover new relationships and use them to develop best practices going forward.”
Ease of use and security were also of great importance to ACCE members, something that was accomplished using a single sign-on login system and sensitive dashboards. Members access the survey using the same credentials that they use to access other secure areas of the ACCE website. This simplified login system also allows ACCE to retain full control over access to the survey. Additionally, sensitive dashboards put in place by Dynamic Benchmarking determine, based on login credentials and parameters set by ACCE, who gets access to specific, sensitive data.
When it came to promoting the new platform to its members, ACCE truly shined. Knowing how difficult change can be, especially when it comes to adopting new technology, they put together a robust marketing plan for the new platform to educate members on its functionality and features as well as tout the new capabilities that the platform afforded them.
“We want to encourage our members to try DCB and get comfortable with it,” adds Sarah Myers, Director of Information and Research at ACCE. “We want them to experience for themselves the full capabilities of the system and see how it can benefit them directly and specifically.”
With this in mind, ACCE launched a monthly webinar series to showcase not only the different capabilities of the system, but also how they, and some of their tech-savvy members, were already utilizing the new platform to its fullest.
“Our webinar series has something for everyone, regardless of their comfort level or experience with the platform,” adds Myers. “It touches upon everything from the basics of using DCB to case studies of how members are using the data gleaned from the study.”
In addition to the webinars, ACCE promotes the benefits of DCB at events and in their quarterly magazine. They also actively ‘practice what they preach’ by using data and reports pulled from the benchmarking platform for their own educational events and presentations.
“Personally, I love how quickly I can generate a PowerPoint slide to show the correlation between different data points,” says Philbin about the system’s on demand reporting feature. “We could download data with our old system, but being able to conduct comparisons on the fly has been great.”
ACCE continues to promote the platform and educate its members on its functionality and value to their operations. DCB is set to start data collection for 2015 in the coming months and all signs point to increased participation in this next cycle.
“We’ve really only just begun to touch upon the value inherent in DCB,” adds Myers. “Our members love the flexibility offered by the data filters and on-demand customizable reports. I’m confident that participation and usage will just continue to increase.”