What is ASCnet?
Simply put, ASCnet can best be summarized as "users helping users."
In the mid 1980's, a small group of insurance agents got together on a rather informal basis because they had one thing in common -- they were all automating their offices with Applied Systems' The Agency Manager. It was a time when our whole way of doing business, running an office, and communicating with one another was undergoing a dramatic technological revolution. The biggest comfort was in knowing that others were just as confused and frustrated as they were and that there was some strength in numbers when approaching the vendor with their common needs and concerns.
The goal of ASCnet is encapsulated in its Mission Statement: Leading insurance business practices through education and advocacy. This work is supported by dues dollars and other sources of non-dues revenue which include, among other things, the Annual Education Conference and the production of a vast array of products designed to assist members in their daily operations. The dues rate an agency pays is based on the number of computer terminals. The majority of members pay around $270 a year which equates to about 74 cents per day. But in a tight economy, when budgets are being trimmed from every direction, it's valid, and prudent, to ask: What do I get for my money?
Sometimes it's difficult to justify the expenditure because many of the returns of an association membership are intangibles. It's not like buying a new fax machine or extra computer terminal -- something you can put your hands on and say, "Look. this is what I purchased today that is going to save us time in the office and help our business grow."
In addition to the executive officers, ASCnet has a diverse groups of volunteer directors who oversees the needs of individual members and the strategic vision of the organization.
All of these officers and directors take time from their busy offices because they have a passion for the important role the software Applied Systems has developed and how it influences their successful business operations as well as an understanding for the work that ASCnet does as a users' group. While the leadership still determines the association's direction, sets its budget, and establishes policies that will work in the interest of all users, it falls to the staff to carry out the leadership's directives.
Although ASCnet has a paid staff which has also mushroomed in recent years from one part-time employee to a professional staff of over a dozen employees, ASCnet is like other trade associations in that its direction and policies are established by volunteer leaders and committees who still have one thing in common -- they are all users of Applied Systems' software.
At about the time that Applied Systems Client Network was incorporated there were 16 local chapters. Applied Systems Client Network is now the parent organization for over 70 affiliated local chapters and fields inquiries regularly from users who wish to start up additional chapters. The chapters are providing users with an opportunity to network with others in their area throughout the year with training materials, seminars, and membership support provided by ASCnet.
One of the most important benefits is the collective voice of the members that ASCnet represents in communicating their common problems and needs to Applied Systems, capitalizing on the strength in numbers philosophy. While they are separate entities, ASCnet and Applied Systems consider themselves partners dedicated to bringing the best result to our members.
Constantly monitoring the pulse of the automation industry, volunteers and staff identify and respond to the need for the development of new products and materials. Examples this are the development of the Fast Track Guide, Month End Made Easy, Integrating Word and Applied, as well as other tools and products.
Applied Systems Client Network accomplishes all this and more with a dues base that is the lowest of all insurance automation user groups and continues to grow as a viable force and industry leader. It will maintain this position with the strong commitment of its membership.