As more and more associations make the change from traditional installed software to software as a service (SaaS), they are realizing the benefits of having data or websites hosted for them. This is sometimes referred to as hosting "in the cloud," meaning that your files do not physically reside on a computer or server in your office.
Even though associations are selecting software as a service vendors for their association management software, websites and other services, they may not fully understand the services that a partner should provide to help protect your association and your members.
Your association needs the peace of mind that your data is safe, secure and being backed up on a regular basis. And, you need your hosting provider to be continually monitoring the system to ensure your organization has access to your data.
Here are three ways your website host or database provider should protect your association.
One of the biggest benefits of using a hosting provider for your association management software is that backups should be included in your service. You'll no longer need to worry about creating backups each day and having your IT staff move them to a safe off-site location.
Of course, you never want to have to restore your data, but when something does go wrong, you'll want a recent backup so you can get back up and running quickly.
At a minimum your provider should include the following backup services:
- A daily backup of your data. At least once per day (2-4 times per day would be better), 7 days per week.
- Weekly backup: A cumulative roll-up of the daily backup, kept for each week, for at 2-3 weeks.
- Monthly backup: Keep the oldest copy of the weekly backup for at least 30 days.
- Additional backup: Keep 1 copy of previous monthly backups for 30 days.
These may seem like a lot of backups, but in the event of a catastrophic event or an error you don't discover for weeks, you'll be glad your hosting provider has extensive backup procedures.
You need your information to be secure. After all, the collection of information in your membership management system may be your association's single biggest asset. You need it kept safe for your organization's sake and for your members'.
- Your provider should encrypt all user logins and data transfers to prevent prying eyes from easily intercepting information as it's transferred to your computer.
- If your website has an e-commerce component for members to register for events or purchase merchandise, your provider should use 2048bit encryption to keep their credit card information secure.
- Your entire system should be PCI Compliant to follow industry guidelines and regulations on storing credit card data and processing transactions. If you don't comply, the PCI Security Standards Council can revoke your ability to process credit cards.
By providing these levels of security your membership database and/or website provider is protecting your association from exposure to potential credit card fraud.
Your membership management software provider and website host should continually monitor the system's performance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to ensure maximum uptime and availability. Monitoring a system and website goes beyond keeping the servers running optimally, though.
- Your provider should check the pages of your website to make sure each one is loading quickly. If needed, the provider should make the necessary adjustments to speed up the pages that are running slowly.
- Scan all links on your website and follow them to the destination website, to ensure your site is only linking to safe websites. Search engines such as Google can black list or block your website from being listed if they find links that lead to malicious content.
Your association management software provider should be more than just a vendor. They should be a partner in the success of your organization. Look to partner with a company that offers your association the backup, security and monitoring services you need so you can focus on delivering value to your members.