Boston Athletic Association: Taming Complexity with Repeatable Solutions
Case Study Snapshot
The Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) uses FormAssembly to help tackle the massive undertaking of registering nearly 30,000 participants for the Boston Marathon each year. Complex, yet easy-to-use web forms minimize the B.A.A.’s reliance on cumbersome databases and create simplified internal and external processes. Read below to learn how Attain helped the Boston Athletic Association utilize a form solution uniquely suited for their specific needs.
About the Boston Athletic Association
- Operates as a nonprofit association with a staff of 28
- The Boston Marathon is the second largest single-day press event in the world
- Among the oldest athletic clubs in the country (established 1887)
- Mission of promoting a healthy lifestyle through sports, especially running
- A management, technology, and strategy consulting firm
- Serves clients in government, healthcare, education, and nonprofit markets
- Founded on several core values, including entrepreneurship and commitment to service
The needOutdated Database Management
Before they began working with Attain, the B.A.A. used one Microsoft Access database for every race dating back to the 2000s. Inevitably, this meant that there were nearly 60 databases with no consolidation. Such an extensive system made it difficult to organize records.
“Each contact could have a record in one of 60 places,” Pifer explained.
Although the previous data management solution was originally custom-built for stability, it was also outdated and mundane. Staff had very little room for innovation or moving forward with data technology. Attain helped the B.A.A. search for the right tool that would create better experiences for staff and race participants.
“We had to adapt the solution and think about how you build for a staff that doesn’t code,” Pifer said.
Attain’s process for helping the B.A.A. focused on specific business needs around the marathon and responding to the internal needs of the organization, rather than focusing on test coverage or technology-heavy implementations. Although Pifer initially imagined a totally custom form solution, he introduced the idea of using FormAssembly for its impressive capabilities.
“This was a fairly complex set of interactions for anyone to ask of a form tool, and FormAssembly was able to do it,” Pifer said.
We had to adapt the solution and think about how you build for a staff that doesn’t code.
The solutionImproved Experience Without the Hassle
In choosing a solution, one of the main goals was to offer an improved all-around experience.
“The Boston Marathon is a bucket list item. We wanted to really prioritize creating a world-class experience for the runners who attend. The first step of that is the registration, and the form provides a seamless experience. For a person like me, who doesn’t have the technical background, I can still deliver that experience,” Minerd shared.
Pifer explained the brief step-by-step process that Attain used to help the B.A.A. leverage FormAssembly to its full capacity. These steps included:
- Starting with standard objects. The first step was to include basic things like contacts and accounts by utilizing the Salesforce Nonprofit Success Pack.
- Looking at the AppExchange for partner solutions. The next step involved looking for apps like Chargent that integrated with FormAssembly. This offered assurance that the new product would have its own lifecycle and remain advantageous for future use cases.
- Piecing it together with the right tools. Salesforce Lightning Flow brought the project full circle with a guided, integrated process.
“What’s great about solutions like FormAssembly is that we don’t need a coded solution to do the complex logic. We can use these third party apps, these tools, that do the technical work for you. That’s what gives you the ability to innovate,” Pifer explained.
“ With the last registration we did, the server load at FormAssembly didn’t spike above 11%. It didn’t break a sweat.“
Tens of thousands use the registration form to sign up for the big race.
The Boston Athletic Association’s main use case is for registration forms for the Boston Marathon. With such high traffic registration numbers, the form has to offer simplicity to both runners and staff members who monitor the Salesforce records.
The registration form offers real-time verification, such as accepting completion times from other marathons and authorizing credit cards for registration fees.
Form connectors help staff access trends in data year-to-year.
FormAssembly’s connectors provide the ability to report in dashboards. Previously, information was stored across multiple databases, but now it’s housed within one system. Using Salesforce, staff can easily see registration trends from year-to-year. This allows Minerd, as a Salesforce admin, to be less hands-on when it comes to sharing data. Using dashboard reporting empowers staff with the ability to pull their own numbers and research as needed.
Moreover, the connector setups are saved, even as they clone different forms. This means that staff can save additional time when re-creating new, complex forms.
Attain and the team at the Boston Athletic Association work directly with FormAssembly staff to stay up-to-date on high volume registrations. As events open up and runner and volunteer numbers increase, the B.A.A. looks forward to creating detailed plans for times when extra support is needed.
“It’s been an amazing partnership. I’ve had great access to the FormAssembly staff,” Pifer said.
“From further enhancing our registration platform to new innovations this year that will involve our race operations – every solution is built with the goal of delivering a premier event that meets the highest standards that runners expect of the Boston Marathon,” Minerd said. “With tools like FormAssembly, the B.A.A. now has technical solutions that translate to an amazing experience for our athletes,” Minerd said.