Upgrading to iMIS 15: What Associations Need to Know
Interview with Phil Varady
JUDY: There are two topics that we want to cover. The first one is "How do
you know you need to upgrade to iMIS 15?" The second is "Are you ready to
JUDY: Let's start with "Do you need to upgrade?" What are some signs that
people should look for that would indicate if they need the new features of iMIS
PHIL: The first thing is expanding the number of staff who can take advantage
of iMIS 15. Prior to iMIS 15, everyone had to buy the same type of user, so it
was expensive. Now with iMIS 15, ASI offers what they call Full Users, as well
as Casual Users. Casual Users are primarily those who do contact management. If
you have a lot of users looking for that capability, there is a nice price point
for a Casual User that was not available prior to iMIS 15.
JUDY: How much do Casual Users cost?
PHIL: Casual Users are about 1/3 the price of a Full User.
JUDY: That's quite a discount! Who would be a typical Casual User?
PHIL: Typical Casual Users might be your department heads who currently have
likely made lists in Outlook which do not link to iMIS and are always outdated.
These people can now, at a very good price point, become Casual Users in the
iMIS database and actually access iMIS for contact management, always getting
the latest email addresses and such. That would solve a lot of problems for
department heads and executive staff who need that information.
JUDY: Do they have to use it within the iMIS interface, or is there some way
to bring the information into Outlook or whatever email client they may
currently be using?
PHIL: Well, that is the other great thing about iMIS 15 - it provides for
several different kinds of interfaces. There is the traditional interface that
is available, which people are very used to, but now there is also a new
browser-based interface that allows you to do contact management directly from
the web. That is a huge enhancement, particularly when you are traveling -- to
be able to use that interface anywhere you can get on the internet. The third
thing is that there is a module called iEmail. That allows you to put a link on
your toolbar in Outlook; so if you wanted to communicate directly with your
members in your iMIS database, you can click that iMIS button in Outlook and
actually do email merges directly to the members from the live iMIS database.
This way, you are not using outdated information that is sitting in your
JUDY: Who else might be a Casual User, other than the management team?
PHIL: We are starting to see volunteers from association committees and
boards that are asked to travel around and meet members. They might want to
enter in the call activity as a result of those meetings, and they would be able
to do that directly from a browser right into the iMIS database. We also see
some uses of the Full User when they are at an annual conference. If they had a
bookstore in their booth, for example, they could have a computer on the
internet and actually process book orders right from the browser as a Full User
of iMIS 15.
JUDY: Can they do badges and registration that same way?
PHIL: Absolutely! They can do reports using Microsoft Reporting Services
directly from that same application. The other aspect is the ability to export
lists. For example, a meeting planner might be on the road somewhere when one of
their exhibitors requests a list of all the attendees. The planner can go to the
web, look up the list of attendees, click a button to export it to Excel, and
give it to the exhibitor on the spot.
JUDY: What else is new in iMIS 15?
PHIL: iMIS 15 introduces more capabilities when adding on web components. For
example, they have enhanced the API interface to allow third-party products like
ISGweb to work more efficiently with iMIS 15. In addition, they enhanced their
own web modules.
JUDY: What is now possible with that integration that was harder to do
PHIL: ASI has enhanced the APIs to make them more reliable, and they are
embracing the third-party developers like ISG that are developing products to
meet the market need.
JUDY: That is a smart strategy on their part.
PHIL: You bet!
JUDY: In relation to the improved APIs, what would be a sign that an
association needs to upgrade?
PHIL: One reason might be if they were using a web interface for their
members and it was slow or if they want to have more capability with different
choices to integrate with their website. These APIs are much more enhanced and
are being more widely used with a lot of the vendors out there.
JUDY: For anybody who does not know what an API is, can you speak to that?
PHIL: An API is the official way to connect a third-party application to your
iMIS database without jeopardizing your upgrade path. It lets the two products
exchange data in real time so they are both always up to date.
PHIL: Always up to date and upgradable.
JUDY: ISGweb would be a good example, right?
PHIL: Yes, ISGweb is an authorized third-party product.
JUDY: Are there other things that are new in iMIS 15?
PHIL: ASI has added features to provide more capabilities that associations
have been requesting. For example, they added a shipping address so that
products can have their own shipping address for those who sell a lot of
products. They enhanced the events module to allow for better tracking of
substitutions and so forth. They enhanced their marketing suite to allow users
who do a lot of mailings to track marketing efforts in a much more enhanced way.
They have come out with new modules like Task Center, which allows you to set up
workflows that automatically do tasks that would normally require manual
JUDY: Are there any other features in iMIS 15 that really seem to be driving
associations to upgrade?
PHIL: I think that the biggest enhancements are several modules, now
available through the browser, which are fully .net capable and maintain the
power user interface for those power users. There are more licensing options to
allow you to expand where you need to.
The new query tool is important too. It is much more user friendly, and you
can set up personalized queries that are distinct to what you are trying to do,
making it very easy to extract data out of iMIS.
JUDY: You do not have to use Crystal Reports anymore?
PHIL: Well, you can use the query tool to export to Excel, Word, directly to
a Crystal Report, or to a Microsoft Reporting Services report. The query tool is
a front end to all of that. Many people just use that query tool to query the
data and export it to Excel or just query the data to see what they have.
JUDY: It is simple enough that an executive or administrative person could
PHIL: Yes, the database administrator would set up a particular query
specific for those executives to use. From there, they could export, print, or
whatever they wanted to do.
JUDY: That is very useful. Sometimes, with Crystal Reports, it could take a
long time to generate a report, right? It could be days.
PHIL: It could be. This gives you greater flexibility to get the data out
JUDY: Are there any other reasons that we have not discussed that you are
seeing that are driving associations to upgrade?
PHIL: I think the main reasons are the ability to expand the number of users
that associations can allow access to their iMIS database, the enhanced
interfaces that are now provided to the iMIS 15 community, as well as the
ability to have more choices when it comes to integrating third-party products.
JUDY: Can you talk a little about the costs of upgrading?
PHIL: Sure! The costs for an existing iMIS customer that has kept their
maintenance fees up to date are minimal. Actually, ASI is giving them additional
users in their conversion process.
JUDY: Extra users for free?
PHIL: Extra users as part of their conversion process. Now ASI is moving from
a licensed model of what they call Concurrent Users to Named Users. In that
conversion, existing iMIS customers are being given 1.2 Named Users for every
Concurrent User they have now.
JUDY: At no additional cost, right?
PHIL: At no additional cost.
JUDY: Is 1.2 Named Users enough?
PHIL: It seems to be satisfying the need of most of the clients that we do
these conversions for. Of course, there is also the option to add Casual Users,
which lets associations add additional staff who are not currently using their
iMIS database, giving them the ability to use it at a cost-effective rate.
JUDY: Ok, that is great. Now, let's address the second question. Once an
association has decided they are ready to upgrade, what do they need to think
about to get ready for the upgrade? Do they need to upgrade hardware, as well?
Maybe update some of the infrastructure? What implications are there?
PHIL: iMIS 15 does have some hardware implications, so they do need to check
on the status of their current hardware environment and decide if they are going
to continue to keep it where it is or use a hosting facility to do that. They
also need to check on their hardware infrastructure to make sure it can support
iMIS 15. Those users that are in the iMIS 10 series, more than likely, will have
the appropriate infrastructure to support iMIS 15.
JUDY: What about people who have not yet upgraded to iMIS 10?
PHIL: Yes, users prior to iMIS 10 may have some infrastructure costs that
they will need to be aware of.
JUDY: So, for example, what kinds of things do they need to think about?
PHIL: Servers for the most part. They need to look at their SQL Server, their
application server, and their workstations before iMIS 10.
JUDY: What else does an association need to think about to get ready for the
PHIL: They need to think about whether they should change the way the website
interacts with the database. They may want to replace rekeying with the ability
to have the website and database update each other automatically, in real time.
It is a wonderful time to think about doing that. If they are not going to
change, that is fine, but they need to think that through. There are so many
more tools available for users to use on the web that interact with the
JUDY: For example, what might be some of the new capabilities they can take
advantage of there?
PHIL: They could decide to integrate a whole lot more web facility for their
members such as SharePoint, being able to renew your dues, or having directories
online. That sometimes may replace some functionality they already have.
JUDY: Perhaps that is more of a static directory that might be outdated.
PHIL: Yes, they could move to a more web, more live, environment.
JUDY: Maybe also streamline some of the amount of work that association
staffs have to do?
PHIL: Absolutely! Get the self-help idea working. Let members enter their own
data, register themselves for events, and without the staff having to rekey
JUDY: What else should an association think about if they are considering
making the upgrade?
PHIL: I think they really need to look through their organization to find out
who is not being efficient with copies of data. This can give them a huge
opportunity, in a cost effective way, to allow more people to use the iMIS
JUDY: Maybe poll the management, the executives, maybe the board, and see who
would want to take advantage of the Casual Users?
JUDY: Would this be a good candidate for administrative staff as well?
PHIL: You bet! If there are administrative staff who are not really doing
transactions, they are just doing content management, lookup, communication,
call activity, and that kind of thing; then they would be good candidates to
become Casual Users.
JUDY: Ok, are there any other issues that associations should think about
before they make this upgrade?
PHIL: If they are adding users that are new to iMIS, they need to consider
training opportunities that may be required. They should really study what
exactly the user needs. For example, there are many people who are completely
satisfied being in Outlook, using the button right in the Outlook interface to
communicate with users. There are other users that need the Casual User
interface to enter call logs and things like that. Then there are the heads-down
Full Users. You really need to take a look at your staff carefully to find out
what kind of user you are - what will suit your needs the best.
JUDY: How much extra training are heads-down Full Users going to need on this
PHIL: Depending on what they do, if they are a heads-down power user
responsible for dues billing, for example, they may need a day's worth of
training on the membership module.
JUDY: What about a Casual User?
PHIL: A Casual User usually just needs overview training, which only takes a
JUDY: For the executive team, would it make sense to block out two or three
PHIL: Exactly, no more than that.
JUDY: Can that be done over the web?
PHIL: We do it all the time, whether remotely or on site – either way.
JUDY: Great! Is there anything else we should mention?
PHIL: We should mention that we hold seminars once a month to view iMIS 15.
If people want to do that, they can check the listing on our website.