Highlights from April AQHA Executive Committee Meeting
AQHA Executive Vice President Craig Huffhines shares highlights from the AQHA Executive Committee meeting. Customer experience and financial sustainability remained the two major topics of discussion at the AQHA Executive Committee meeting held in Amarillo last week. For any association, these two areas are the most important to maintaining a healthy organization and to supporting membership growth potential.
But some very basic things have to occur to be successful in these two areas: 1) computing power needs to match the expectation for turnaround time out of our registry department and 2) budgets must be established that focus resources on what is most important for the long-term growth and quality of service of the organization. These are the areas on which the Executive Committee has been laser-beamed focused.
Your newly elected AQHA President Stan Weaver led the meeting and the newest AQHA Executive Committee Member Kenneth Banks joined the table with First Vice President Butch Wise, Second Vice President Norman Luba and Member Dr. Scott Myers. In a very rigorous three days and 35 hours of meetings, the Executive Committee reviewed the recommendations from the AQHA Standing Committees and AQHA Animal Welfare Commission from the 2019 AQHA Convention, and appointed the committees and commission positions for 2019-2020. The Executive Committee recommendations will be published on AQHA.com in the upcoming weeks, once each committee liaison reviews and updates the committee reports.
A great deal of time was spent evaluating the AQHA technology plan, understanding the rate of improvement in the roll out of the most recent computer system launch. The Executive Committee evaluated the workflow challenges that ramped up after the first of the year while the entire production and processing staff was testing the system. The early March launch of the new system provided a window of opportunity to get it up and running just ahead of the late-spring show season. Strategies were discussed that could relieve some of this backlog and catch up the service levels out of the registry department while the IT department continues to fix the glitches that have slowed progress.
Another key topic with many of our members is the new website that rolled out at the same time as the new computer system. The biggest challenge has been for members to reset their log-in credentials and then learning how to navigate the new system. In addition, there have been a few glitches with accessing performance records and using a credit card to pay for services. All of these details are being worked on by the IT development team and are being resolved one by one.
There are two approaches we are taking to alleviate the backlog. First, the IT department is working 7 days a week with NTT Data developers to make the fixes that streamline the computer system and fix the glitches. This will help staff more rapidly process registrations and transfers, allow members to pay for their services online with a credit card and allow members to access volume records online more easily.
Secondly, we are hiring a part-time employee work force, a few of whom are show managers who know a great deal about our business, to help push transfers and show results through our system. Our goal is to attack the backlog with as much work force as possible to catch up in the next six weeks.
The Executive Committee also spent time with our Customer Care team, monitoring phone calls and speaking with members about the issues they are experiencing. We thoroughly discussed our plans on how to move forward and fix the issues our members are experiencing. In the past three weeks, the AQHA Customer Care call center has received more than 10,000 calls per week to address primarily registration and transfer delays. This has created a wait time for those members calling in with questions. Most members have used the call back option, which has worked the best for most members, as they have received a call back within one and a half to two hours with the answers they need. Ultimately, getting caught up on the registration and transfer backlog will help with the high volume of calls we are currently experiencing.
I hope you all read President Weaver’s letter to the membership last week about the new computer system and website. I cannot express enough my appreciation of your patience, while we resolve issues related to the new computer system and website. We will share more information with you, as we improve these issues and the service we are providing to our members around the globe.
We also had a very transparent and open discussion about AQHA’s finances and budget with AQHA Chief Financial Officer Aaron Bovos and Director of Finance/Accounting and Controller Brian Hickman. We are working hard to maintain a balanced budget and to not use AQHA’s investment reserves so that eventually we can get to a place where we can put back money into the AQHA emergency reserve fund. The Executive Committee approved the amended budget.
The American Quarter Horse Foundation Board of Trustees also met last week. The Board of Trustees is the governing board of the Foundation. With advisement from the Foundation Council, the Board of Trustees is responsible for managing the business and affairs of the Foundation. The 2019 Board of Trustees are President Stan Weaver, First Vice President F.E. “Butch” Wise, Second Vice President Norman Luba, Member Dr. Scott Myers, Member Kenneth Banks and newly appointed Member Robin Merrill.
Over the past two years, the Trustees have focused on supporting transparency for Foundation financial management and governance, helping to illustrate the good management and stewardship of donor-directed funds to create meaningful impact in the industry. To learn more about the Foundation programs of impact, visit www.aqha.com/foundation, or view one of our videos which highlight our Scholarship, Equine Assisted Activities & Therapies and Hall of Fame tenets.
Your Executive Committee, Foundation Board of Trustees and AQHA staff are committed to resolving the problems you are experiencing. I appreciate your trust and patience, as we move forward with modernizing your Association.
Craig P. Huffhines
AQHA Executive Vice President