February 2024 marked 10 years since the launch of the Membes Association Management System (AMS).

A game changer for the Associations sector, Membes was designed to offer a complete and cost-effective software solution to meet the unique needs of member-based organisations.

Since then, the product remains at the forefront of technological advancement delivering cutting edge solutions to meet our customers’ evolving needs.

In celebrating this significant anniversary, we commend our customers who have been part of the journey and embraced new technology to deliver greater value to their members.

Where it all began

It was actually in 2003, quite some time before the 2014 launch of Membes, when a Melbourne based software company called Asset Media identified a need by SMEs for complex web-based software (now known as ‘Cloud software’).

The company quickly built a reputation for developing software for a range of organisations with diverse purposes. This included a strong client base of Professional Associations and in those early years, Asset Media built a deep understanding of their unique needs and complexities.

In the early 2000’s the requirements of the average Association were simple - a website with an online membership form, linked to a database, and a secured interface for viewing members’ records and communicating with them.

These features were delivered through software that was tailored to each Association’s brief.

Over time however, the needs of Associations expanded – some wanted membership renewal processes, some wanted online event registration, then there was CPD tracking for others, as well as reporting and automated workflows. And so it continued, until the features requested by the average Association had ballooned to a point where the cost to develop additional features on a made-to-order basis became prohibitive for mid-sized Associations.

By this time, the Asset Media team had accumulated extensive knowledge and expertise in meeting the needs of Associations. And, importantly, a deep appreciation of the critical role of Associations in our society.

Founder Jason Morris says “to this day we’re acutely aware of the important role Associations play, and the impact they have on our own lives and families. Associations support professionals that support us, and our communities.”

Borne out of this drive to support Associations, the team embarked on a mission. A mission to design a system that would deliver the features and functionality required, at an affordable price.

Membes AMS is born: A SaaS solution that delivers the benefits Associations need, without the high costs.

In pursuit of this ambitious goal, Asset Media leveraged its expertise and over 10 years’ experience with Professional Associations to create a purpose-built Association Management System (AMS) – an off-the shelf product that all Associations could use without the need for an individually tailored solution.

Known as Membes, it was offered to customers through a Software as a Service (SaaS) model.

Offering an AMS through the SaaS model presents many advantages to customers over and above what is possible with a tailored solution:

SaaS Tailored
  • A system built specifically to the needs of a Professional Association - includes the full set of features and functionality used by the vast majority of Associations. Pick and choose what you want, now and in the future. 
  • A system built in response to selected features and functionality a customer needs at a single point in time. As the Association’s needs evolve, additional custom development is required. More time, more cost. 
  • More features at lower price. 
  • Less features at higher price. 
  • Fixed cost – based on the known price of the SaaS product  
  • Cost uncertain. High risk of budget blowout due to complexities e.g. additional features being identified during build; testing and fixing bugs; and extra time spent on the project. 
  • Fixed timing - the product has already been built and is available off the shelf immediately.   
  • Uncertain timing – blowouts are common due to the above. 
  • Risk of gaps in functionality are mitigated by having a purpose-built system ready to go. 
  • Risk of necessary functionality not being included in scope and missing from final product. 
  • Regular updates and upgrades. All customers benefit from new features based on suggestions from across the whole customer base, and technological innovations from the vendor. 
  • A static product. Any future changes or updates instigated by the customer require a new project and additional cost. Customers miss out on knowledge sharing, best practice and innovation. 


Prioritizing cost-effective innovation

While the advantages of Membes SaaS were evident to those familiar with the Software as a Service concept, many Associations were still searching for a customisable (bespoke) system. “At times, it seemed like we were presenting healthy, nutritious fruits and vegetables to a market that still craved chocolate cake” said founder, Jason Morris.

“It was challenging to observe numerous Associations, ideally positioned to gain from Membes SaaS, opting instead for the traditional bespoke solutions despite the growing realisation that these solutions often led to budget overruns and complications.

“The adage ‘The customer is always right’ is universally recognised. However, there's a lesser-known quote attributed to Henry Ford and echoed by Steve Jobs: ‘If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.’ The Membes team has endeavoured to navigate the essence of both sayings.”

Over the last decade, we have delicately balanced our customers' immediate needs and expectations against our goal of delivering a comprehensive platform at a price that’s affordable to mid-sized Associations, and that stays ahead of broader technological trends.

The Australian Association sector matures

On the 10-year anniversary of Membes, reaching this goal is one of our proudest achievements.

By remaining committed to addressing the needs of the Australian Association sector, while continually striving to build a better product, we’ve each year, observed an increase in the number of Associations choosing ready-made SaaS solutions over tailored ones.

This has broadened the Membes customer base and allowed us to expand as a product and as a business. In turn, we’ve been able to reinvest in enhancements to the Membes platform for the benefit of all our customers.

Our swift incorporation of AI into Membes serves as a prime example of this commitment and capability.

COVID marked a pivotal moment in this journey as Association executives and boards increasingly focused on the importance of spending efficiency and demanded tangible returns on their investments. There was a recognition that the Membes SaaS solution aligned with these strategic objectives.

Today, the dialogue with Associations considering the Membes platform has evolved significantly from even a few years ago. There is now a heightened emphasis on understanding these strategic considerations, rather than detailed comparisons of highly bespoke features when selecting the most suitable software model.

Associations are more aware than ever of the importance of choosing a solution that: 

  • Is Australian based 
  • Is continually updated with latest capabilities and new innovations  
  • Can be managed without reliance on 3rd party developers 
  • Minimises IT costs and optimises return on investment 
  • Is reliable. 

 We’re grateful and proud to have served the customers that have joined Membes on this journey. 

Membes: a current snapshot 

After 10 years since inception, Membes now proudly supports nearly 200 Associations across Australia and New Zealand with their daily operations. 

This includes membership management, communications, reporting, stakeholder engagement, event registrations, community building, Continuing Professional Development (CPD), website management, and much, much more. 

While other AMS vendors have come and gone, the last 10 years have seen Membes grow into a stable and profitable business with the commercial foundations required to support future development and product growth.   

Customers have peace of mind that member data is safe, that the systems are secure, and they’ll have access to a platform that will deliver the latest innovations to push their sector forward.  

With a strong customer base, a feature rich and stable platform, and two decades of knowledge and experience, Membes stands in a unique position within its sector.  

Looking Ahead: The next 10 years  

The dedicated team behind Membes is committed to leveraging this advantageous stance to surpass past achievements and attain even greater successes in the future. 

We’ll continue to listen to our customers and capture their input on features and functionality so we can be sure we’re always delivering to new and evolving needs.

And we will continue to employ our technical expertise and experience to introduce the latest innovations to support your Association.

2024 will see AI bring on a transformation in the way Associations operate on all levels. A decade of dedication to cutting-edge technology positions Membes at the forefront of making AI accessible to mid-sized Associations. 

The Membes team has already cleared the most significant obstacle in bringing AI technology to our customers by successfully developing our own AI model (powered by OpenAI) in 2023. This development, alongside a framework enabling our customers to tailor the AI model to their own Association, lays a solid foundation.

Despite the rapid pace at which technology will advance in the years to come, this achievement is crucial for both Membes and our customers to benefit from the revolution we see unfolding - benefits that will support Associations through new insights and information to ensure they remain viable and relevant to their members.

While forecasting the next two years, is challenging, let alone ten, it's reassuring to know that Membes is ready and well-equipped to navigate the developments in technology in a way that our customers will reap full benefits of the upcoming advancements.

By Membes | 25 March 2024