Very basic- Unlikely to keep up with emerging needs
** Note: MemberZone is No Longer an Actively Sold Product
My company is a non profit dealing with the next technological revolution (Industry 4.0), our mission is to advise and educate the manufacturing world of these new technologies and encourage their adoption. It's an ironic sell to me, as we rely on Growthzone (Memberzone) for a significant part of our business- which is essentially an Excel sheet with HTML over the top of it.
- We came from Salesforce, adoption went poorly. The categorizations have no capacity for branching options, so we lost our ability to drill down into each company's specialties by category.
- AMS is also prone to duplicate creation in the event of slight data differences, which resulted in thousands more records than our true membership.
- I'll get further into the ease of use later, but user adoption was and continues to be a huge challenge. Growthzone does have a whole host of videos to understand processes, but unless you are a system administrator who seeks to understand how the moving parts all work together, user frustration is high for all the tiny steps required to do simple tasks. This frustration can lead to mistakes or skipped steps, which impacts event revenue, invoice delivery, member frustration, and more.
Customer Service: Poor. GrowthZone employs far more sales reps than it does technicians- support agent assigned to your account is not inherintly knowledgable about the AMS features, technical questions, or the improvements coming down the line. Their feature growth is glacially slow, and the "innovations" are items that have been staples of website development for ten years.
Ease of Use:
- API: Growthzone has an API, but its documentation is nonsensical and intentionally vague. Support technicians don't understand how to support the API, we have had a professional web developer attempt to use the Key supplied by GZ to integrate with our other cloud solutions without success; and support answered numerous clarifying inquiries with templated email responses rather than troubleshooting the issue.
- Invoicing: One of the biggest headaches and costs of time. In growthzone, Fees are split into Dues or Events, which exist separately and cannot be combined on a single invoice if you need sponsor revenue to apply towards event budgets for reporting. This means if you are an organization which sells membership and sponsorships in bundles- to properly be able to track these all against their proper monetary allocation, you are forced to create separate invoices for each item. Separate line items on the same invoice do not work properly for event revenue. This leads into another problem, packages now have to be combined out of system (we use word) and sent manually to the member. This again requires manual entry of payment on return of the form.
- As a positive point, batched invoices to work and generate if they are set up correctly. Merge fields from the database function well, which allows greater customization of cover letters on delivery to members.
- You can set up automatic billing, however you cannot perform it/require its setup on member joining. The steps are not made clear to members by the product, so responsability falls to you to educate and manually drive the adoption of Auto billing
- The AMS cannot re send receipts for paid transactions, you can generate a sales receipt (but this also mimicks a payment on the member's account tab and can confuse accounting).
- I'll talk more about the lack of comprehensive change logs, but as it applies to invoicing invoice records can be deleted with impunity and it is near impossible to maintain accountability.
- The "Bundle" option for invoicing does not function with event sponsorships, or tie sold sponsorships to their related event budget. Bundle also requires manual assignment of money as it is "recognized" by accounting.
- Change Logs: The AMS has system notes, but they are system wide and coded so generically that even attempting to find a change when you know the exact date, time, and record changed it is still a 15-20 minute challenge to locate a change.
- Change log is system wide, which means you cannot find details of specific fields except by paring down from the full system log. Most other sites and databases have individual pages and change logs (or historical data) for fields designated as important to the system.
- Only member change date shown is a "Date Modified" which could be on any element of the record's ten tabs.
- Deleted invoice and sponsorship data is unrecoverable without paid support, which wouldn't be a problem if a reference number and title were left on the member account tab so historical data can be better understood.
- Dashboards, Reports, & Data Export: Not very user friendly. Dashboards and Reports are pre built, even though the coding is there to pull pie charts, bar graphs, web data, and other complex items- they don't allow you to employ these elements for your own use. Data exporting does not pull in any logical order, requiring the user to sort the material every time it's exported. Pulling from pre built reports pulls database fields outside those in the web version of the report, again requiring manual transformation of the data to be usable once it leaves GrowthZone.
Reliability: A positive note for this AMS. Once you understand the limitations of the AMS, systems are always consistent. Communication (mail merges and marketing) functions, form builder allows you to create and distribute custom forms for completion by members, the member portal allows member companies to interact in a variety of ways, and the website plugin elements are relatively customizable with changes taking place instantly (does not require any coding knowledge to edit). I took off one star because you do have to understand the rough edges of the system to make things work as they're expected to.
Customization: Limited in utility, little effectual change can be made to core systems.
- Only database fields easily manipulated are Custom Fields. You can't control which are publicly visible through the portal, even though some would be valuable to display.
- Categories can't be drilled down as I stated towards the beggining, self selection leads to no order/organization among members.
- Website customization is limited to colors, can't alter much else.
- No real customization of general display information, or required fields
- If you have a core business need for your AMS, it cannot be customized into GrowthZone. You can make forum suggestions for feature changes.
- One of the lowest priced solutions available
- Basic and manual features are reliable- if you can live within the systems and keep Dues separate from Events it can run things effectively
- Website customizations, merged email outreach, and general user management are clear and low impact.
- Customization on a broader standpoint are non existant. If your model doesn't fit the template you will struggle with this AMS
- No integrations with any solutions. API is non functional, which means no auto sync of email communications, no way to connect sold items to your workflow processing, no ability to pull contact information into other applications without physically searching for it in GrowthZone and copying it to the other application.
- No true CRM. Sales will have to come up with an alternative way to track leads and the sales process
- Improvements are far too slow. This AMS will not be able to keep up with increasing demands. No ability to automate or auto populate information, the limitations I've discussed in my review above take years to fix (if they ever get addressed), the manual investment required to perform any task will be unsustainable if your organization grows. Other solutions are actively working to cut out steps, what takes me five separate invoices on different pages and then creating an invoice in word can be created all from a single page on other AMS solutions and sent out in less than five minutes.
I can't reccomend this product for Associations with dynamic environments, GrowthZone simply lacks the versatility to roll with the punches and keep admin time related to growth under control.