National Association of REALTORS®
As part of an ongoing commitment to provide easily accessible resources, education and insights to their membership base, NAR partnered with Ollion to replace their more than 20-year-old member engagement system. This new modern member engagement platform is one of many initiatives NAR has undertaken to modernize systems, provide members with better access to information and help members be more successful.
In this case study, we’ll explore the approach Ollion took to confirm this tool would meet NAR’s goals and the needs of their members while being technically sound and scalable.
NAR wanted to modernize their member management system to be more user-friendly, valuable for users and scalable as they continue to grow.
Ollion worked closely with NAR's team to understand issues with the current system, current needs and future goals.
We designed and implemented a new custom modern member membership system with a user-friendly design and functionality that provides users quick and convenient access to the data they need when they need it.
Despite a strong belief in the power of data, NAR was struggling to maximize the value of its data assets. Systems and information were poorly integrated, leading to blind spots in the evaluation of customer, carrier and representative performance.
NAR’s goal was to have an updated system with a modern and intuitive design that provided:
- A modern membership ecosystem for NAR and for NAR associations, affiliates and partners that resolved challenges identified in the previous system
- A modern, intuitive and responsive design users can access from a mobile device, tablet or desktop browser
- A scalable enterprise architecture solution to enable flexibility and extensibility into the future, allowing NAR to respond to quickly changing business needs
- One single source of truth across NAR’s associations that includes clean and accurate data with consistent formats and definitions
- Customized access levels and permissions so administrators can provide users access to all the relevant data they need while keeping secure or confidential data limited to select users
- Easy-to-use reporting features that allow the ability to analyze and uncover insights from NAR national data as well as data from local NAR associations, affiliates, partners and third-party data sources
To ensure this new member management system provided the access, quality and speed their users required, NAR chose their long-time application solution partner, Ollion, to design and develop a modern solution.
After a thorough audit of the company’s technology, the Ollion team identified critical data in five systems. The silos created by the disparate source systems were slowing effective data analysis, contributing to several chronic problems at the firm, including poor decision-making capabilities and a lack of clear strategic focus.
Select challenges of the previous system
- Outdated and hard-to-navigate user interface
- Limited ability to be agile and respond quickly to changing business needs
- Data inconsistencies
Part 1: Strategy, goals and user needs
Ollion’s strategy-first approach meant that development did not begin until we had a detailed understanding of:
- Who would use the system and how it would be used
- The current state, including current challenges
- Goals for the future state
- Constraints and limitations for the future state
Armed with this information, Ollion and NAR built out a multi-phased strategy that included a detailed future state vision, project goals and a roadmap for the future state implementation. This approach ensures the final product is built with the users and project goals in mind. It also uncovers potential issues or roadblocks that could slow down or even stop the implementation.
During the current state analysis, the Ollion and NAR team uncovered the following issues that would need to be addressed to make this project successful:
- An outdated design and hard-to-use application made the system unfriendly to users and prevented usage.
- Data organization did not meet current business needs.
- Data inconsistencies meant that available data was unreliable.
Part 2: Building the new member management system
The Ollion/NAR team took a stepwise approach to the solution to ensure all issues with the previous member management system were addressed and that the new system would be stable and scalable.
The first step was to address the most critical application; this included a full replacement of the previous online member management system. Ollion’s solution was to migrate the core online member management system from legacy, on-site systems into Azure’s Platform as a Service. We also improved the data synchronization process and architecture to support backwards compatibility and provide a more accurate and uniform representation of NAR’s members.
Additionally, Ollion and NAR jointly built a new modern user interface using Vue.js, .Net Core and Bootstrap. This addressed NAR’s legacy system pain points to provide associations with a better design and more intuitive user experience. The application also allowed NAR to have real-time analytics via Power BI Embedded, a knowledge center with SharePoint content control that included PDFs, newsletters and podcasts all together in one custom solution. In addition, Ollion enabled NAR to improve their incoming data quality via M1 by integrating real-time USPS address and real estate license validations during form entry with existing business rules.
Ollion helped NAR accomplish their objective of rolling out a completely new member management system along with a flexible enterprise architecture that will allow NAR to adapt and scale seamlessly into the future.
The member management system was an instant hit for NAR’s association affiliates. The new design and functionality greatly improved the user experience by enabling the associations to find and manage information more easily and quickly than ever before.
Along with a modern and intuitive design, users were immediately able to:
- Easily create new members or offices
- Search for members or offices by criteria such as location, status, type, and more
- Gain quick access to training materials
- Retrieve accurate and detailed member information, including demographics, interests, statuses and activities
- Run reports and view analytics to find insights on members, industry trends, location data and more
Ollion will continue to add new data sources to the solution while helping NAR's leadership to identify possible ways to expand the system. Ollion also plans to develop a customer portal, which will be central to their new managed services branch. This portal will provide reliable, data-driven business reports based on our client’s services.