Celebrating Associations: APICS

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Celebrating Associations is a weekly blog produced by .orgCommunity, celebrating the achievements of associations and the great impact on the industries they serve.

Association and History: CelebratingAssociations-Dots-LessTextAPICS is the professional society for supply chain and operations management professionals.  It provides research, education and certification programs to advance supply chain excellence and innovation. In 1957, 20 production control managers met in Cleveland to form the American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS). It became an international organization in 1961, upon chartering the Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, chapter. Today, APICS stands more than 45,000 members strong—headquartered in Chicago, but representing supply chain management professionals around the world.

About its Members: APICS professional members either support or serve various areas of end-to-end supply chain and operations management. About 80 percent of the membership is based in North America, while 20 percent is located throughout the world. Individuals and companies belonging to APICS may participate in education and training, access industry publications and research, and pursue internationally recognized designations. APICS credentials include: Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM), Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) and Supply Chain Operations Reference Professional (SCOR-P).  Later in 2016 APICS is launching a new credential: Certified in Logistics, Transportation and Distribution (CLTD).

We’re Celebrating at APICS Because … its membership strategy is improving member retention rates and helping APICS to grow.

We’ll learn more about efforts and outcomes in an interview with Jim Pavletich, CAE, APICS’ vice president of membership and customer experience, who leads the organization’s membership acquisition and retention strategy and oversees customer service and fulfillment.

Q: What drove the new membership strategy?

A: APICS leadership recognized that we had a problem with retaining members. My responsibility upon joining APICS in 2014 was to implement a membership strategy that would increase the value of membership to each individual member. APICS’ overall membership retention rate was at 64 percent; the goal for this strategy was to increase membership—for all dues-paying categories—to more than 70 percent. In 2015, we achieved 67 percent retention. This year, the goal is 70 percent retention.

Q: Describe some of the efforts underway.

A: In short, we have made a significant IT investment to better understand what our members are seeking from us. We now obtain the reason—the motivator—for members joining or renewing. We ask members to select one of several different motivators, which include: starting or advancing your career, enhancing your professional value, staying informed of industry developments, expanding your professional network, or seeking leadership opportunities within APICS. We now also track purchases, downloads and activity on our website per individual.

Based on “motivator” responses and activity tracking, we may change how we approach individuals. APICS offers dozens of “universal” membership benefits. So once we learn of an individual’s membership motivation and track their activity for a period of time, we essentially shuffle the list of benefits and bring to the top—once they log into the website or access the newly released membership mobile app—the most relevant benefits that meets what that particular member is seeking.

In December 2015, we also put in place a way to measure member engagement. Members are assigned a numeric value in the database that measures their engagement level based on an index. We zeroed in on several variables: how often a member logs into the website, whether the member attended the annual conference, if the member is a chapter officer, is in their first year of membership, has purchased a product or service, or has taken a certification exam. We process this information in the database and compare it against the data collected to arrive at a composite engagement score. Last year, the average composite engagement score was 17.5 for professional members; we want to improve that score by 5 points this year by increasing product sales and increasing the number of members accessing the website.

APICS1
Meet the APICS membership team, which is delivering on the organization’s membership strategy. Pictured L to R: Steve Aspacher, Bryan Warren, Dana Day, Scott Parker, Kathleen Schroeder and Jim Pavletich.

Q: What indicates whether a member is at risk and requires attention versus one who does not?

A: We are working on member communications plans for various levels of engagement. For those scoring between zero and 20, we will have certain, targeted messaging about what we can do for them to improve their experience and also a plan for how often we will contact them. We will consider the outreach a success if we can get them to retain their membership.

Q: Any other new membership endeavors worth sharing?

A: We will be rolling out new membership benefit bundles in the months ahead to reward members for increased engagement. For example, those pursuing either the CSCP or CPIM credentials can elect to pay a bit more for the CSCP or CPIM membership bundle (versus the “core” membership package) and will then receive discounts on preparation materials, exam fees, certification frame or plaque, etc.

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APICS’ Bryan Warren holds an iPad displaying the new APICS membership app.

Also, we’ve noticed that once people earn their certification, a lot of members stop their membership. We are hoping to reverse this trend by encouraging members to elect the less expensive, core membership bundle after they receive their certification and need contact hours to maintain it.

In addition, we no longer charge students for membership. As a result, we have seen a 66 percent increase in this membership segment in 2015 (About 7,000 APICS members are students).

Finally, we’re implementing web evaluation software so that members and customers can provide feedback on website navigation, content, look and feel, and performance to help us know where to target ongoing improvement. We will benchmark the website scores against Fortune 500 companies who also are using this software. We recently started to A/B test web pages—splitting among users the pages they see and measuring outcomes, so that we can know what our visitors prefer. This year we plan to make the entire APICS website responsive so that it delivers an optimal experience across all devices—smart phones, tablets, laptops, etc.

Q: Are you pleased with the results from all of these efforts?

A: Yes, we’re already seeing positive results from the pieces of this strategy that have been put into place. All of these changes are driving and showing value to members. Through this strategy, we are demonstrating to our members that we get who they are, and that we can tailor our offerings to what they are seeking.

Share YOUR Story: What great things is your association doing for its industry or for its operations? Contact heather@orgcommunity.com for details about submitting a story or to be interviewed.

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