There are many reasons that Professional and Trade Associations should select a Salesforce based Association Management System (AMS) that uses the standard Salesforce person accounts model.
The Nimble AMS Association Management Software uses the Salesforce Person Accounts model and we were recently asked to document some of the advantages. The example below illustrates one of the many compelling advantages of Person Accounts.

Custom Object That Applies To Both Organizations and Individuals

It is a very common need in the association world to have programs that apply to both organizational members as well as individual members. For example, perhaps your organization gives awards to both individual members and corporate members. Lets illustrate how person accounts facilitates doing this.
One of the great things about Salesforce is how easy it is to add a custom object to track awards. Lets get started!

Create the object

1. Create a simple object called Awards
2. Add a couple of fields to track the name of the award and the date the award was given:
3. Now add a lookup relationship field to relate the award to the recipient
  • If using the Salesforce Person Accounts Model:​  Create a lookup field called Recipient and relate it to the Account. Since person accounts are just accounts, we can use one field to represent both individuals and companies. We want every award to be associated with a recipient, so we’ll also make the field required.
Now add second lookup field for Accounts:
Note: Since the award can be for be for either an account or a contact, neither can be required. This opens up the possibility of orphaned award records (i.e. award records not related to anything).  A validation rule would need to be created that would require either the contact or account relationship to be entered.

Usability in Person Accounts:

Adding Awards:
Adding awards is simple:
1. Go to the record of the recipient of the award and click New Award from the related list on a record:
2. Enter the Award Name, and click Save:
3. The award is now recorded:
4. With Person Accounts it is just as easy if we want to give an award to a corporate member. The association staff fills in the same field, the same way – no need to differentiate because it is a corporation:

Reporting

Salesforce has an excellent built in reporting tool. With person accounts the reporting is very straight forward. For example, to create a report of all of the awards (for both companies and individuals) the following steps would be followed:
1. From the taskbar select Reports and click New Report Button.
2. ​Type Award in the search box and select Awards with Award Recipient and click Create:
3. ​This will bring up a pre-created report that will show all awards and the recipient (both corporate and individual):
4. ​If the user wants to add additional fields from the account record – no problem (this is a big advantage of Person Accounts). For example one could easily add the phone number field:

Usability Without Person Accounts:

Adding Awards:

1. ​Go to the record of the recipient of the award and click New Award from the related list on a record:
2. Enter the Award Name, and click Save (note that the staff entering the record will have to be trained to not enter a Contact if it is an organization record and vice-versa):

Reporting

1. From the taskbar select Reports and click New Report Button.
2. Type Award in the search box.
Note: One cannot get a report that has the membership information AND the award information for ALL awards – only by either Contact or Account: ​
3. If one selects the awards report (i.e with no relationship information) that simply reports off of the objects. One can get the recipient but not additional information (e.g phone number, address, etc.) from either the Account or Contact. Also note Award ID A-002 that is not related to any account or contact (again – the system administrator should take the additional step of creating a validation rule to require either the Contact or Account relationship be required to eliminate the possibility of this happening).

Summary of Advantages of Person Accounts with Custom Objects

  1. One link can be created between a custom object and the Account to represent both companies and individuals.  If not using person accounts two links would have to be used (one for the contact and one for the account).
  2. Reporting is possible across both organizations and individuals including additional information from the records. Without person accounts two separate reports would be required (one for accounts and one for contacts) to get additional information.

Custom reporting across individuals and organizations is just one of a myriad of reasons that Nimble AMS uses the person accounts model.

 For more information on person accounts see these posts from our blog: