NACS, the National Association of Convenience Stores established in 1961, is the global trade association for the convenience and fuel retailing industry. NACS currently serves its members in more than 50 countries through education and networking opportunities with conferences, webinars, and other events, its award-winning publications, industry research and analysis, advocacy efforts and leadership issues, and additional initiatives.
“We’re a Microsoft shop. When I saw the Protech solution, what won me over were some of the integrations, like being able to email right from the system and have it all tracked. The staff liked the interface, but for me it had to do with integration.”
– Matt Morris, Director, Computer and Network Operations
The Challenge: NACS had used netFORUM Enterprise for a decade, and while the legacy software had been highly customized in an effort to meet basic needs and association demands, numerous motivating factors contributed to their desire to transition to a new system. NACS staff did not find the legacy software to be intuitive, and they had a difficult time performing searches to locate and compile much-needed information. As most organizations aspire to do, NACS wanted to reduce the reliance on the Information Technology department to pull data for staff and to create more of a self-service environment across the organization. Additionally, the system’s inability to adequately handle international currencies limited revenue and growth opportunities for the global trade association. Furthermore, due to netFORUM Enterprise’s lack of available applications and integrations/API’s, NACS relied on custom-developed features to handle many of the technical needs of their organization and had boxed themselves in by over-customizing this proprietary system. With a desire to move away from being so heavily dependent on expensive, custom development, the NACS team was convinced that a change to a cloud-based platform solution would enable them to spend less time on infrastructure and security and more time to focus their efforts on priorities and initiatives central to the mission of the association.
“A Microsoft platform may evolve, but it’s never going to go away; and so I looked at it from a longevity point of view. There will always be people out there that will support Microsoft products.”
– Gwen Gattsek, Data Services Manager
The Solution: With their desire to move to a cloud-based platform clear, and their feature wish-list identified, NACS began looking into new solutions that would meet the needs of their staff and members alike.
What resonated most with NACS is what they saw during a demo from Protech’s association platform solution built on Microsoft Dynamics 365. First, Protech has a long and proven track record of serving member-based organizations, and Microsoft is a well-established, multi-national corporation whose products are in ubiquitous use. NACS, in fact, was already utilizing Office 365, Azure, and other Microsoft applications, and has great confidence in knowing that there will always be knowledgeable professionals who can support this best-in-class software.
NACS staff were familiar with and prefer the Microsoft interface, and the seamless integration between Protech and Microsoft proved to be compelling.“Being able to email members, committees, and other groups directly from the system and have contact records reflecting these activities is what really drew me to Protech and will be a powerful capability for our organization”, says Matt Morris, NACS’ Director, Computer and Network Operations. Additionally, Gwen Gattsek, NACS’ Data Services Manager says “while IT was heavily involved in processing data requests from the old system, individual team members can now easily access information and member data in Protech that is relevant to their roles and departments, which is a huge lift off of ITs plate and saves our staff a ton of time.”
Ready for the Future: Matt and Gwen recently completed their implementation of the Protech Platform and speak highly of the implementation process. Gwen points to the Protech implementation team’s ability to explain aspects of the process in lay terms that are easily understood and that the Protech implementation team established “a manageable rhythm that I could follow.” Sprint sheets were well-organized, and Protech team members helped NACS seethe way forward. She also highlights that the Protech implementation team “rapidly began to speak NACS;” as they clearly conveyed and demonstrated an understanding of the way NACS works and their organizational culture and processes. Matt described the “very patient people” of Protech and was impressed that they could handle in stride the times that the NACS team was not in alignment internally. He also emphasized that the Protech implementation team displayed a willingness to find a common solution to NACS’ challenges.
Through its use of Protech and Microsoft, NACS is well-positioned for continued success and growth in supporting the global convenience and fuel retailing industry in its seventh decade and beyond.