National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) is the largest trade association representing boat, marine engine, and accessory manufacturers in the U.S. and Canada. Its platform serves as a single source of record for the organization’s 1,300-member companies that produce over 80 percent of the boats, engines, trailers, and accessories used by boaters in North America.
The association knew its platform, TIMMS, was showing signs of age. NMMA developed a plan to reduce its administrative costs and better serve its manufacturing customers. NMMA needed something new. The organization called Forte Group to make it happen.
The costs of maintaining the NMMA legacy system had outgrown the costs of updating, so the organization decided to act. NMMA took proposals from a dozen software services companies, ultimately selecting Forte.
NMMA and Forte Group agreed that the most cost-effective solution would be to build a new application rather than updating the old system. NMMA had funding to develop a new system but needed a minimum viable product (MVP) to launch by the end of the year—just five months away. With no time to waste, both teams got started.
After a brief discovery phase, Forte ramped up a cross-functional team of product designers, engineers, quality assurance (QA) analysts, and a product owner to kick off delivery. Forte introduced NMMA to agile software methodologies, and after establishing a product roadmap, work began with the first of 10 two-week sprints toward the MVP.
The Forte team first built an automated testing platform, implementing test-driven development throughout each sprint. Automated testing and quality assurance helped to ensure that each two-week delivery resulted in tested, production-ready software that could advance to rollout, user testing, and release.
NMMA’s legacy system included years of manually inputted data. The manual inputs were time-consuming and placed a high administrative burden on NMMA staff, so the teams opted to automate these processes. With the new application’s improved UI/UX, manufacturers could submit data on their boats and accessories with ease. On the old platform, NMMA staff manually copied this data from spreadsheets into their system. The new application’s data flow seamlessly integrated with NMMA’s internal accounting system and customer relationship management (CRM) tool.
The new web-based application, Engineering Certification Team (ECT), uses the same business logic as the old system but improves workflow and processes through automation, enhanced UI, and increased performance. The platform was built from the ground up on a modular technology stack, making it easier to scale with added integrations, features, and upgrades in the future.
Forte Group adapted to our needs and challenged us to think outside of the box by providing various options to improve the end product. Their expertise, product support and customer service made for a smooth transition to the new system. Based on our experience with the Forte team, we would recommend them to any business looking for support.
Forte delivered a working MVP before the engagement’s year-end deadline. The MVP was so well-received that the NMMA team decided to build additional features into the ECT the following year. Now, NMMA’s new system provides the following enhanced features:
- Eased administrative burden: The new NMMA platform serves as a single source of record for the entire organization. Paper- and email-based systems of record are now digitized in one central location, which makes accessing and processing data easier and faster.
- Automated data: Manual tasks, such as registering SKUs, measurements and other information, are now submitted by manufacturers and automatically flows into the NMMA databases.
- Digitalized contracting: The system was built to integrate with DocuSign, which allows for all contracts to be signed and recorded digitally.
The lifeblood of any organization is its customer. With improved operational capacity and business flexibility, NMMA is now empowered, with modern tools and data, to create an even better experience for the boat manufacturers they serve across the U.S. for years to come.