For CPA, a key to reaching their diverse group of members - geographically dispersed across the country - is the effective use of technology and digital media. While the organization was making use of an existing suite of software solutions, they were frustrated by feature limitations, the existence of data silos, and a less than ideal experience for their members.

Realizing that there were better approaches and solutions that they could take advantage of, CPA approached Industrial with the following goals to improve their digital footprint:

  • Get "out of the closet" and "into the cloud" - move their core data into a secure, cloud-based environment

  • Easier content publishing on their website to facilitate timely updates and distributed content management across departments

  • Improved membership data management and renewal processing
  • A more modern, refreshed, and clean visual interface for their digital presence that reflected their brand and improved findability of content
  • An improved suite of member self-service tools to increase engagement, simplify renewals, and improve data quality
  • Better use of email communication to segment, reach, and engage with members
  • Flexibility with reporting on their data to make informed, strategic decisions

A New Approach to Digital Technology

CPA's senior leadership team had been tackling the challenge of how to rethink their digital footprint. Having been through more than one failed "all-in-one" Association Management Software (AMS) deployments, they were determined to think differently about how to best leverage technology to reach their strategic goals.

As Michael Brennan (then-CEO of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association) later told us, he'd been through the five stages of grief in AMS deployments, and had no interest in going through it again.

When our team first met with CPA, they had already mapped their future vision, as shown in the flip chart drawing below. They envisioned their core data in the middle (in their case, core membership data), surrounded by "nodes": software that could meet a specific need and integrate with that core data.

What did this tell us? CPA understood how to approach and leverage modern technology, and were looking for a partner to guide them through the process.

Understanding the Ground Truths

When reimagining the digital footprint of an entire organization, where do you start? At Industrial, we seek to first understand what is true today - the "ground truths" - before thinking about tomorrow. For CPA, their ground truths included:

  • An Association Management Software (AMS) for managing member data using Sage CRM that was incredibly frustrating for staff to use, especially during peak renewal season.
  • A website that was running the Kentico Content Management System (CMS) that staff struggled to use to keep content up-to-date.
  • A separate membership website that was clunky and not intuitive for members, lacked easy-to-use self service features, and made the renewal process quite cumbersome for members.
  • An email marketing system built into the AMS for delivering emails to members that lacked the functionality of more robust systems, resulting in Communications staff adopting MailChimp for some email communications.
  • A blog website separate from their website, running the WordPress CMS to provide easier publishing, due to the perceived limitations of the Kentico CMS.

A Consultative Approach

A reboot of an organization's digital footprint will often impact most, if not all, staff. To ensure we understood the viewpoint and needs of all departments, Industrial's user experience team - led by Megan Goodacre - embarked on a series of consultative sessions:

  • Meetings with CPA's senior management team - including the CEO and all department heads - to understand the strategic goals of the organization.
  • "Day in the life of" sessions with Membership department staff to see how they use their current software and any pain points, their wish list, and the types of scenarios they deal with during renewal season.
  • Discussions with the Finance team to understand the data they need access to, the reports they run, and existing pain points in their internal processes.
  • Meetings with the Marketing & Communications team to understand how they communicate with members via their website, email marketing, and social media, discuss pain points and wish lists.

From these sessions, a shared understanding of CPA's needs was established and a plan for the future could begin to take shape.

Data in the Middle

Key to a modern digital strategy for CPA would be the housing of their core membership and contact data in a system that could interact with other software. Such strategies are often called "an API-first approach," where "API" stands for Application Programming Interface... a technical term that simply means "to connect" software applications.

Based on a growing understanding of CPA's needs, a new digital footprint for the organization emerged.

Managing Core Membership Data and Renewals

For a member-driven organization such as CPA, key to success is storing their membership data in a system that would provide their staff with the tools and access they need, while supporting integration with the myriad of other software applications needed to run the organization. 

Wicket - a cloud-based data platform - was chosen as the core membership database for CPA. Wicket is the only database available on the market today that is fully focused on leveraging integrations, through an API-first approach to software. Wicket would house all core membership data (and any other contacts), and would power CPA's annual renewal process.

Wicket was configured to meet CPA's complex membership structure and business rules, and their existing membership data was migrated into the system by Industrial's experienced technical team. 

  • Manage core membership data, including detailed profile information
  • Process renewal and onboarding orders for membership
  • Track maternity and other forms of leave for members
  • Issue refunds and discounts
  • Record touchpoints from other software systems to measure engagement
  • Export data to Excel for deep analysis
  • Manage user roles and permissions

Storing their data in Wicket positioned CPA for integration with other platforms, resulting in a cloud-based foundation for the organization to build on.

A New Website

The powerful, open-source Drupal Content Management System (CMS) was chosen for the new website. Why Drupal? The Drupal CMS is one of the most popular CMS systems in the world, and is known for its ease of use with content publishing, its ability to integrate with other software, and a strong track record for security.

Industrial worked closely with the CPA team to imagine a new website that would serve their members and other key stakeholders. The process included:

  • A deep analysis of CPA's content and the creation of a new information architecture (navigation structure) to ensure users could find the information they sought with the fewest clicks possible
  • The wireframing of new interfaces for the website, with a focus on search, a flexible home page structure to promote key initiatives, and unique page templates
  • Creative design of a new interface for the website, focused on clean, modern design principles
  • Deployment of the Drupal CMS software, including the migration and formatting of existing content, working closely with CPA's communications team
  • Configuration of a powerful search platform to index all website content, including PDF files, to allow users to quickly find content
  • Migration of the "ShopTalk" blog from a separate WordPress website into the new Drupal website
  • Creation of an Account Centre for members, providing access to self-service features, membership renewal, and secure content

Adoption of MailChimp for Email Marketing

MailChimp is the industry leader in email marketing campaigns, with a reputation for its ease-of-use, high delivery rates, great templating and powerful segmentation features. CPA's Communications department had already been experimenting with the MailChimp platform for some of their email marketing campaigns, making the transition to MailChimp a relatively smooth process.

The power of MailChimp is in its ability to send targeted campaigns to subscribers through a very robust segmentation engine. This segmentation can be put on overdrive by extending the data that is stored on each subscriber. In CPA's case, custom fields were configured on MailChimp to store membership data such as:

  • Current membership category for the person
  • Membership years the person has been a member
  • Province of membership
  • Postal code of person's work address
  • Birthdate of person
  • Language preference of person

Through Wicket's integration capabilities, membership data stored in Wicket is synchronized in real-time with MailChimp. The result? The ability for CPA's communication staff to send segmented email campaigns to members based on live data.

Chartio for Flexible Reporting

For any member-driven organization, the ability to report on data is critical to achieving strategic objectives. For CPA, Industrial recommended the use of Chartio, a powerful business intelligence and reporting tool to allow CPA staff to dive deep into their data, with key features such as:

  • Ability to create new reports with a drag and drop interface
  • Creation of visual dashboards using charts, data grids, and heat maps
  • Scheduling of PDF dashboards to be delivered to any person by email address
  • Viewing of historical, point-in-time data snapshots
  • Creation of data overlays with external data sources such as Google Analytics


CPA's digital transformation impacted all staff across the organization, as well as the members that interact with the organization on a daily basis. Key outcomes of the project included:

  • A modern new website at, designed to work on any screen (including mobile devices)
  • Improved findability of website content through smart navigation and powerful search
  • An improved experience for members to renew their membership using a step-by-step process, tightly integrated into the new website
  • A robust, integrated Account Centre on the website for members to manage their information and access secure, members-only content
  • Fast, efficient access to data for membership staff, including a powerful membership ordering system
  • Improved efficiency for CPA's communications team for updating website content and delivering email campaigns
  • Improved access to data to inform decisions

Reimagining your entire digital footprint is a significant endeavour. Our work with the amazing team at the Canadian Physiotherapy Association was very rewarding, and we'll continue to help guide their future digital technology decisions.

What can we build for you?

Let's Chat