RAMCO FAQ

There is much to know about the RAMCO AMS. This FAQ will serve to answer some of the most common questions for AEs and those interested in the Association Management System.

In addition, you may also download this response we gave to an association’s Request For Proposal and have kept updated since.  RAMCO’s resources do not permit our compiling detailed responses to extensive RFPs.  This one is fairly comprehensive and should supplement answers found in the FAQ:  Response to Association RFP – Updated 5-2014-full

If you do not see your question on this page you may submit it to RAMCO leadership via the Contact Us page.

Table of Contents


The Basics of RAMCO and RAMCO Governance

  1. What is RAMCO?
  2. Why was this endeavor engaged in?
  3. How and why was Cobalt chosen?
  4. What was licensed from Cobalt?
  5. How proven is the Cobalt platform?
  6. When was this started?
  7. Who owns RAMCO?
  8. Who makes the decisions now?
  9. Who will select the board of directors for this cooperative?
  10. Once a cooperative, who will be responsible for decisions on pricing, features and functions?
  11. When do you see the cooperative becoming a reality?
  12. Who’s paying for RAMCO, the Cobalt source code, the customization, etc.?
  13. What kind of company is RAMCO? Is this a for-profit endeavor?
  14. Who owns the source code?
  15. Who owns the data entered into the system?
  16. Will co-op accounting be available to all co-op members?
  17. How will the co-op be governed?
  18. It’s a co-op right? Then how do I join? Can I get involved somehow now?
  19. Who should I contact if I have questions?

Accounting, Member Billing & E-Commerce

  1. What financial reporting software can I use?
  2. What about e-commerce?
  3. Can I do balance sheets, P&L’s and other financial reports?
  4. Does RAMCO do payables?
  5. Can it manage deposits to multiple bank accounts?
  6. Will I be able to generate dues billings from RAMCO?
  7. Can we set multiple prices for events?
  8. Can I charge different price levels for products?
  9. How can purchasers get receipts?
  10. My CPA is asking if the system maintains a certified “audit trail” of billings and receivables?
  11. We are an MLS that collects payments for dues on behalf of our member associations. We split those payments in a variety of ways, including retaining a processing fee for ourselves.
  12. Does it allow creation of batches for daily receivables?
  13. Will I be able to upload data into the system? For instance, will I be able to process dues payments by uploading spreadsheets?
  14. How many different kinds of membership and billing types, dues and fees can the system support?
  15. Can it automatically generate and apply late fees?
  16. Can I automatically inactivate or suspend members for non-payment?
  17. Can my staff see a member’s entire credit card number?

Call & Case Tracking

  1. How does RAMCO let me track calls from members?
  2. How can I tell if member inquiries are being handled in a timely fashion?
  3. How can I make sure staff is giving the right answers?
  4. Can I look up an individual members’ call record?

Committees, Seminars, Meetings, Products & Events

  1. Can RAMCO track continuing education (CE) hours?
  2. Can it transmit CE credits to the state licensing bureau?
  3. Can you outline what Convention & Meeting Management features RAMCO will offer?
  4. Can I use barcode scanning to record attendance?

Custom Data Fields and Views

  1. Can I add my own custom fields to the database?
  2. Can I choose what fields I want to see and that I use the most?
  3. Does RAMCO support “wildcard” searches?
  4. Can I decide what info I want to pull into my database from NRDS?

Reporting

  1. Can I create custom reports?
  2. Can I set up certain reports to run automatically?

Data Security & Storage

  1. Will anyone else have access to my Association’s data outside of my Association staff?
  2. Where does my data reside?
  3. How secure is the system?
  4. Does RAMCO back up my data? How often? Where?

Importing/Exporting Data

  1. I’m extracting and saving member and office data (in Excel format) in anticipation of being able to join RAMCO very soon. Do you have any specs or guidelines on the data they need, and in what format they need/want it?
  2. What can I export to Excel?
  3. Explain the “dynamic” Excel worksheet feature.
  4. Can I upload data from an Excel spreadsheet?
  5. How often does the system refresh from NRDS?
  6. How often does it refresh from, or transmit to, other systems with which we have data arrangements?
  7. Can it import data from other membership systems into a RAMCO system being used by a regional MLS?

Installation & Configuration

  1. What software and what versions will I need to have on my local PCs and laptops? What browsers can my members use to access RAMCO from my website?
  2. Should I plan to keep my old system running after RAMCO is installed?
  3. How does my data get transferred into RAMCO?
  4. Does import include the historical data from my current system, or is it only the current year’s data?
  5. What financial data will be transferred into my system?
  6. Will there be web training, or will on-site training be required?
  7. What is RAMCO’s schedule for adding new features?

Member Records

  1. Can I manage multiple associations?
  2. When I receive member data from another association or through NRDS, can I control what actually goes in my system?
  3. We keep member photos on our current system. Will RAMCO do that?
  4. Will new members be able to file applications online?
  5. Will it automatically assign the next available sequential NRDS number when we create a new member or office account?

Websites, Integrations and Email

  1. Does RAMCO integrate with Outlook?
  2. Can RAMCO do online elections and surveys?
  3. Does RAMCO include a website?
  4. Will there be a demo of Sitefinity?
  5. Will RAMCO integrate with my lockbox vendor and MLS system?
  6. Will there be a member-only log in?
  7. Will there be a Find a REALTOR® function that will not for members only?
  8. Do you have a working demo site so that I can view all the functions and features to compare to our current system?
  9. Do I need the “web portal” to have RAMCO available to our members through our website?
  10. Does RAMCO offer any features for distribution and tracking of e-mail communication?
  11. What if I want to track bounce rates and undeliverable e-mails?
  12. Can I send all-member “blast” e-mails, such as an association newsletter, through RAMCO?

RAMCO Billing, Sign-up and Administration

  1. We are a very small association and have never had a membership management program so we input directly to the NRDS database. As a NRDS-only installation would we have access to the full RAMCO program?
  2. My CEO said there is a discount plan if a large number of local associations sign up in a state. Is that true?
  3. What’s the billing frequency for user fees?
  4. We want to sign up. What’s the next step?

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The Basics of RAMCO and RAMCO Governance


Q. What is RAMCO?
A. RAMCO’s mission shall be to work cooperatively with all REALTOR® Associations and REALTOR® Multiple Listing Services that choose to participate to create, provide support for and manage a comprehensive membership data solution that fulfills the changing needs of the REALTOR® organization, allows flexibility for the diverse management requirements of its members, and reduces ongoing membership system and development costs.

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Q. Why was this endeavor engaged in?
A. RAMCO follows the request of AEs across the country who desire more responsiveness to their ongoing AMS needs as well as greater financial control of their management system expenditures.

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Q. How and why was Cobalt chosen?
A. In 2009 the NAR Association Executives Committee’s RAMCO Project Team established a set of baseline features and functions for a Realtor®-association specific management system and existing association management system (AMS) vendors were surveyed about their interest in, and ability to meet, these baseline criteria. A team of REALTOR® association tech directors formulated a “Features and Functionality List” and every tech director registered in the NRDS database was surveyed to determine which features their systems currently had and which features they would use if they were made available.  Of the vendors that met all the RAMCO Project Team requirements, Alexandria-based Cobalt came out on top and a contract was negotiated for them to become the developers of the RAMCO system.

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Q. What was licensed from Cobalt?
A. Cobalt’s foundation is Microsoft Dynamics CRM. RAMCO has a perpetual license to use the customizations and components that Cobalt has built on top of Dynamics.

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Q. How proven is the Cobalt platform?
A. Microsoft Dynamics CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is a leading software platform and has the best track record of integrating with the numerous Microsoft applications in use by REALTOR® associations nationwide. MS Dynamics’ ability to accommodate new features is second to none.  In fact, MS Dynamics 2011 is actually “version 5″ of the product and is used by many large U.S. and international companies such as Ford Motor and General Foods.

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Q. When was this started?
A. The RAMCO Project Team was formed in 2009 following the recommendations of previous work groups researching the association management system issue to  develop and refine the list of baseline features and functions that a top-drawer REALTOR® association management system should have.

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Q. Who owns RAMCO?

A. NAR has agreed to keep it under their management umbrella for the time being. However, once the system has sufficient users and is financially self-sufficient, the entire operation will be turned over to a cooperative owned by the customer associations. From that point forward, RAMCO will be self-governed by its users and be self-sustaining.  Current projections call for that to happen sometime in 2015-2016.

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Q. Who makes the decisions now?
A.
NAR senior management works closely with a RAMCO Advisory Team of AEs on developing policies, handling contractual negotiations and making business decisions about the system. The Project Team Co-chairs are Jim Link, Rob Authier and Travis Kessler, all of whom have been with the project since its inception in 2009.  The balance of the Teams members are IT Directors and state and local association AEs and senior staff.

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Q. Who will select the board of directors for this cooperative?
A.
The member associations.

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Q. Once a cooperative, who will be responsible for decisions on pricing, features and functions?
A.
The Cooperative’s Board of Directors.

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Q. When do you see the cooperative becoming a reality?
A.
Current thinking is that the system turned over to the Cooperative by 2015-2016. In other words, just as soon as it is financial stable and self-sustaining and has a sufficient number of association customers to make it work.

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Q. Who’s paying for RAMCO, the Cobalt source code, the customization, etc.?
A.
NAR has purchased exclusive source code rights for the real estate industry and has agreed to pay for the customization identified in the “Gap Analysis”. Once NAR turns control over to the Cooperative, RAMCO will be responsible for its own expenditures as determined by the Board of Directors.  For its part, NAR has committed almost $3 million from its Second Century Initiatives to fund RAMCO’s initial development and operations.  In 2013, RAMCO generated over $500,000 in operating revenues.

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Q. What kind of company is RAMCO? Is this a for-profit endeavor?
A.
RAMCO eventually will be owned by a not-for-profit Cooperative of customer associations formed at the appropriate time at a future date.  Under NAR’s management, it currently operates with NAR’s financial assistance and management support.  It is not, and has never been, treated as an NAR “profit center.”

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Q. Who owns the source code?

A. Part of NAR’s initial funding for RAMCO allowed for the purchase of a perpetual license to the source code for all REALTOR® Associations, REALTOR MLSs and the Institutes, Societies and Councils.

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Q. Who owns the data entered into the system?
A.
Associations retain full control over their data in the RAMCO AMS.  In addition, other than the required NRDS data, they also control with whom all their other data is shared.

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Q. Will co-op accounting be available to all co-op members?
A.
As with any membership-based organization, what is disseminated will be at the decision of the RAMCO Board of Directors.

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Q. How will the co-op be governed?
A.
Presently, RAMCO is managed by NAR and overseen by an Advisory Team of local, state and NAR executives and technical staff.   Eventually, they will be replaced by the RAMCO Board of Directors elected from participating associations. REALTOR® Associations may refer to the RAMCO Bylaws for further detail.

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Q. It’s a co-op right? Then how do I join? Can I get involved somehow now?
A.
All RAMCO customer associations and MLSs will automatically be part of the co-op once it is activated.

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Q. Who should I contact if I have questions?
A.
If you do not see your question on this page, please submit them to RAMCO leadership via the Contact Us form.

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Accounting, Member Billing and E-Commerce


Q. What financial reporting software can I use?
A.
Initially, you’ll export Excel-based pre-formatted financial data to Quick Books, Great Plains and Peachtree. Programs such as Mas-90 will not be supported initially.

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Q. Will RAMCO work with NRDS e-commerce?
A.
Of course! RAMCO will be seamlessly integrated with NRDS e-commerce for credit card and online check payments.

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Q. Can I do balance sheets, P&L’s and other financial reports?
A.
No. Like many systems, RAMCO will export your receivables and billing data in formats compatible with today’s most used commercial accounting software programs, i.e. Quick Books, Peachtree and Great Plains.

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Q. Does RAMCO do payables?
A.
No. You must use a separately-purchased commercial accounting software program such as Quick Books.

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Q. Can it manage deposits to multiple bank accounts?
A.
Yes. No limit.

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Q. Will I be able to generate dues billings from RAMCO?
A.
Yes, you will have the ability to generate dues invoices with whatever line items you want, such as dues, MLS fees, RPAC and foundation contributions, special assessments, etc. ). If you want members to be able to pay online then you would need the “web portal” which is a set of simple webpages that allow your members to pay dues, register for events, update their profile and more. The web portal is included in implementation packages 1-4, and is an optional add-on for package 5.

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Q. Can we set multiple prices for events?
A.
Absolutely. In fact, you can set as many different price levels as you desire for events and classes based on any mix of criteria you choose. For example: early-bird discounts or date of payment; member vs. non-member; active vs. inactive; brokers only; those who have taken certain prerequisite courses; new members less than 60 days; those responding to surveys. You can add automatic late fees for payments 31 to 60 days late, and on and on. The only limit is your creativity!

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Q. Can I charge different price levels for products?
A.
Yes, based on any criteria you choose. By default you have the option to charge both a member or a non-member price. Configurations for other price levels can be made during implementation, but your criteria are not limited. For example, you could set special pricing for those who’ve been members less than 90 days, non-members, brokers, entire firms, Realtor® Emeriti, those holding a specific designation, certain committees, your Board of Directors, Realtor® members from other associations, MLS users only, specific classes within a course. The possibilities are infinite. Keep in mind, though, that each additional price level requires a small bit more work when setting up each product.

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Q. How can purchasers get receipts?
A.
Three ways: Automatically e-mailed or printed out at time of purchase or by accessing their account through the website portal at their convenience. In fact, members and others for whom you maintain a customer account can access and print their complete payment history at any time.

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Q. My CPA is asking if the system maintains a certified “audit trail” of billings and receivables?
A.
All fields in the system support auditing, and changes to contact or accounting information is audited (tracked) by default.

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Q. We are an MLS that collects payments for dues on behalf of our member associations. We split those payments in a variety of ways, including retaining a processing fee for ourselves.
A.
This isn’t a problem. All mandatory dues items, as well as optional items like PAC contributions, are created in the system as separate “products”. These products can be tied to different accounts so that when a member pays through the website the correct amount of money goes into the appropriate pot for each association or MLS. If everyone, including the MLS, is using NRDS eCommerce and the RAMCO system, then the process is very simple.

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Q. Does it allow creation of batches for daily receivables?
A.
Yes.

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Q. Will I be able to upload data into the system? For instance, will I be able to process dues payments by uploading spreadsheets?
A.
Yes.

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Q. How many different kinds of membership and billing types, dues and fees can the system support?
A.
An unlimited number of combinations for the criteria you mentioned. Whether it’s your annual MLS fees, dues for your separate International Council, a solicitation for your foundation or RPAC, a membership event or a seminar, staff can quickly and easily generate billings for them using the criteria you’ve chosen.

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Q. Can it automatically generate and apply late fees?
A.
Yes. When you create different dues schedules you can also define a late fee that is automatically applied if that member fails to pay on time.

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Q. Can I automatically inactivate or suspend members for non-payment?
A.
Yes…AND you can program the system to send them an automatic e-mail notification with a link to pay.

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Q. Can my staff see a member’s entire credit card number?
A.
No.  Only the first 6 and last 4 digits of credit card numbers can be displayed. This is the maximum allowed by Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS) requirements, the same level of security used by American Express, Visa, MasterCard, Discover Card and others for online credit card payments. RAMCO’s system is fully PCI compliant.

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Call & Case Tracking


Q. How does RAMCO let me track calls from members?
A.
RAMCO has a very powerful, built-in call (case) tracking system like the ones used by help desks to record customer calls. For each call the staff member would open a “case” to record the nature of the call in the member’s record. The “case” can also be referred within RAMCO to a more appropriate person to answer or “closed” if the matter is resolved during the call.

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Q. How can I tell if member inquiries are being handled in a timely fashion?
A.
RAMCO lets managers monitor “open” cases in real time to ensure members are receiving timely responses.

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Q. How can I make sure staff is giving the right answers?
A.
RAMCO also features a searchable “knowledge database” that lets you load all your current policies, procedures, program and event information so staff can quickly and easily search for answers. This does two things: It helps ensure everyone is giving the same answer on policies and procedures, and it saves time by allowing whoever answers to provide the information without having to refer the caller to someone else.

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Q. Can I look up an individual members’ call record?
A.
Yes. You can see how many times they’ve called, who helped them, what they were calling about and, if needed, who called them back.

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Committees, Seminars, Meetings, Products & Events


Q. Can RAMCO track continuing education (CE) hours?
A.
Yes. Each event or course can be flagged as a CE event and the number of hours or credits assigned. Once the member’s attendance is entered, the system automatically updates their CE hours. Even better, members can look up their running record of CE credits through your website portal and print off a copy.

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Q. Can it transmit CE credits to the state licensing bureau?
A.
It depends on how your licensing authority can accept those records, but you can create an Excel file in a variety of different layouts and then provide that information to your state licensing authority. RAMCO also has the option to schedule an export from the system and automatically send it via FTP.

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Q. Can you outline what Convention & Meeting Management features RAMCO will offer?
A.
You can create an event (say, a convention) with a range of registration prices as well as create multiple sub-events (break-out sessions, sub-events, etc) within that parent event that can also have different price ranges. Instructors and event speakers can be stored and managed in the system and you can assign them to particular events as well. This allows you to create exportable reports on particular events containing the event description, location, schedule and instructor/speaker information.

Member, non-members and event sponsors and exhibitors can register online and you can define different price levels each of them (and other classifications created from your database such as members of a particular committee). Registrations are linked to that particular user’s account and event history. You can even manage exhibitor booths.

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Q. Can I use barcode scanning to record attendance?
A.
Currently we don’t have a bar-code scanning function to track attendees. But, you can export name badges, tickets and other outputs based on templates you load into the system.

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Custom Data Fields and Views


Q. Can I add my own custom fields to the database?
A.
Yes.  RAMCO let’s you add fields to any record (member, committee, event, class) “on the fly”. It’s easy to build the management system you want by adding new fields to the database, selecting and modifying the field names and even their positions on the screen, all without IT expertise.  All those fields are sortable, searchable and exportable like any other regular field in the system.

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Q. Can I choose what fields I want to see and that I use the most?
A.
Individual users can create any number of personalized “data views” in RAMCO tailored to their job. A data view is a way for you to create filters to get at just the records you want, such as certain member types or those who attended a particular class, or those who live in a certain area and meet particular demographic criteria. You can then use your data view to look at just the information about those records you want to see, such as their name, email, mailing address, NRDS#, and much more. These data views can even be shared with other staff members so you can take advantage of others in the office without recreating the wheel!

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Q. Does RAMCO support “wildcard” searches?
A.
Yes. It employs the standard Windows search protocols, including use of the asterisk and other search and sort criteria.

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Q. Can I decide what info I want to pull into my database from NRDS?
A.
Yes. RAMCO lets you view the information and even compare it side by side with what’s in your system, then elect to keep one or both sets of data or data elements.

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Q. Can members change their own NRDS mailing and communication preferences like “Stop Mail”?
A.
Yes, if you allow them access to them through the member web portal interface.

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Reporting


Q. Can I create custom reports?
A.
Yes. Even though the system comes with a number of built-in reports, RAMCO lets you create and save an unlimited number of reports using any fields in the database and export them in Excel format.

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Q. Can I set up certain reports to run automatically?
A.
Yes, at whatever frequency you choose – daily, weekly, monthly…even hourly!

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Data Security & Storage


Q. Will anyone else have access to my Association’s data outside of my Association staff?
A.
Only authorize third-parties can access your data with your permission. This would be the case if you were using any of RAMCO’s web services to manipulate data, or if you were sending files to MLSs or lockbox services. When you set up the system you’ll be asked to assign specific access levels to each staff person. For members, you’ll select what information about themselves they will be able to view and also identify exactly which data they can update through the online portal.

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Q. Where does my data reside?
A.
On RAMCO’s servers at our Tier 4 datacenter managed by Streamline xRM, one of the premier hosting providers on the west coast. Our hosting is fully redundant with backup servers, power, Internet connectivity, fire-suppression, CCT video monitoring, 24-hour security, biometric access and more.

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Q. How secure is the system?
A.
Since associations will be transmitting and storing sensitive membership and financial information over the Internet, the RAMCO system was designed using the highest levels of data encryption and “strong” two-factor user authentication available on the market today. Both signing into RAMCO and all data transmitted while you work in the system is through a secure connection.

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Q. Does RAMCO back up my data? How often? Where?
A.
A full backup of your data is performed each night as well as “incremental” backups every two hours throughout the day. Each week a full copy of your data is shipped off-site from the datacenter to secure storage to protect against catastrophic events such as natural disasters.

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Importing/Exporting Data


Q. I’m extracting and saving member and office data (in Excel format) in anticipation of being able to join RAMCO very soon. Do you have any specs or guidelines on the data they need, and in what format they need/want it?
A.
RAMCO does have an import tool that will allow you to add data to the system from Excel sheets. We will also provide direct data import from the major vendors like Rapattoni, LAMPS, IMIS, MMSI/MD and Avectra. If you use one of those systems you need not bother yourself with exporting all your data to Excel.

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Q. What can I export to Excel?
A.
Anything you see on your screen and any field or combination of fields in the system.

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Q. Explain the “dynamic” Excel worksheet feature.
A.
In other systems, when you export data to Excel it’s a data “snapshot” that’s frozen in time. To update it, you must run the search and export another spreadsheet. With a “dynamic” worksheet export, each cell remains linked in the background to its RAMCO data field. So, every time you open the document, those cells are refreshed with the latest information even if you’re not logged onto the system!

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Q. Can I upload data from an Excel spreadsheet?
A.
Yes. RAMCO has lots of “DIY” (Do It Yourself) capabilities. With just a little practice, you can “map” spreadsheet data into the appropriate fields yourself.

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Q. How often does the system refresh from NRDS?
A.
RAMCO comes with NRDS Central Database (CDB) compliance built in. That means it is continually checking member data against the NRDS central database which virtually eliminates the chance of older information on a member record overwriting newer information.

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Q. How often does it refresh from, or transmit to, other systems with which we have data arrangements?
A.
Once you and the outside source agree on the timing, the system’s “scheduler” lets you set those intervals for each source. Of course, the NRDS CDB compliance program updates to and from the NRDS central database continually.

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Q. Can it import data from other membership systems into a RAMCO system being used by a regional MLS?
A.
Yes, although depending on the data it may require additional programming to “map” those fields to the corresponding fields in your system. A great RAMCO feature is that you or your local IT person can do it, or RAMCO can do it at the standard industry rate of $160 per hour. If it’s simply data from NRDS, it will download to your system automatically with no programming needed. Contact us if you are a regional MLS with specific questions about data sharing.

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Installation & Configuration


Q. What software and what versions will I need to have on my local PCs and laptops? What browsers can my members use to access RAMCO from my website?
A.
RAMCO and the secure member portal support just about all the major browsers (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari, Mozilla, etc.).  Please visit our system requirements page for the latest information: http://www.ramcoams.com/?page_id=108.

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Q. Should I plan to keep my old system running after RAMCO is installed?
A.
Just as with a new MLS system, we recommend you keep both running for a short period to give you time to program and fine tune the RAMCO system and ensure a complete data transfer.  However, we also recommend that you keep the old system up simply as a reference and that you disable the ability to enter data.

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Q. How does my data get transferred into RAMCO?
A.
The data migration and “mapping” is handled by RAMCO’s primary vendor, Cobalt as part of the Implementation Package.

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Q. Does import include the historical data from my current system, or is it only the current year’s data?
A.
Yes, historical data is included.

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Q. What financial data will be transferred into my system?
A.
All payments, receipts, etc. However, some information will come over as “static”or “stubbed” data. In other words, it can be viewed, searched and printed but is not integrated into the system because there’s not enough equivalent information from your old system to build full, interactive payment records in RAMCO. In some cases, past payment information may be transferred to “Notes” on a contact’s record.

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Q. Will there be web training, or will on-site training be required.
A.
All training included with the implementation packages includes web-based training in the form of live, instructor-led webinars as well as a library of pre-recorded video tutorials. In-person training at your office is also available for an additional fee. We also provide training at select NAR meetings.

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Q. What is RAMCO’s schedule for adding new features?
A.
RAMCO will add new features, update existing features and more through regular releases during the year. In 2011 we are planning for two more releases after our initial launch. After that we’ll be releasing new features and functions as they are developed and tested.

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Member Records


Q. Can I manage multiple associations?
A.
Yes. RAMCO’s multi-board management (MBM) functions are a high priority for future releases.  RAMCO has all the same multi-board management functions in line with the current major systems. In future releases we will be adding more specialized MBM functions to meet the requests of AEs.

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Q. When I receive member data from another association or through NRDS, can I control what actually goes in my system?
A.
Absolutely. The system will allow your staff to compare your current information against the incoming data and then select which one to keep.

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Q. We keep member photos on our current system. Will RAMCO do that?
A.
Sure. In fact you can upload any type of document you wish into a member’s record: photos; scanned documents; applications, forms; Word, Excel or .pdf files. You name it!

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Q. Will new members be able to file applications online?
A.
You bet. And, you can set up different requirements in the system that must be completed before a member record is activated. Examples of requirements include “Pay Dues”, “Present driver’s license in person”, “verify Code of Ethics training status” and more.

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Q. Will it automatically assign the next available sequential NRDS number when we create a new member or office account?
A.
Yes.

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Websites, Integrations and Email


Q. Does RAMCO integrate with Outlook?
A.
Yes. In fact, Outlook is the preferred way to interact with RAMCO. Through a free, downloadable plug-in you can access all of the RAMCO data and functions without ever leaving Outlook. the supported versions are Outlook 2003 and later.

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Q. Can RAMCO do online elections and surveys?
A.
The current version of the RAMCO AMS includes the ability to create surveys and store responses to past surveys with a member’s record. We have online voting (elections) slotted for development in a subsequent release as this was a feature requested by numerous AEs.

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Q. Does RAMCO include a website?
A.
There will be two options for website functions. You can use a “portal” style of website where your members click a link on your primary website to be taken to the RAMCO system where they can login to manage their profile, pay dues, see committee history, event registrations and other pieces of their profile. In this setup, your existing website is completely separate from the member portal, although we will do some basic branding so the portal matches your association colors and logo.

The other option is to purchase Sitefinity™, a full content management system (CMS) that is deeply integrated with the AMS. This is a separate, optional add-on that would completely replace your existing website. There are many capabilities built into the Sitefinity™ CMS, including advanced ways to display data from the AMS on your website, survey tools, blogging tools, forums and other content options. Visit our websites section for more information on the different options.

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Q. Will there be a demo of Sitefinity?
A.
Sitefinity is a third-party system that can be demoed at www.sitefinity.com. You can even sign-up for access to an online sandbox of Sitefinity to test it for yourself. All product, sales, training and support is handled through our development partner, Cobalt.  It’s offered simply as an option for those seeking a fully integrated content management solution (CMS) and RAMCO does not participate in that revenue stream.

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Q. Will RAMCO integrate with my lockbox vendor and MLS system?
A.
Currently, RAMCO updates both Sentrilock and Supra through .ftp data transfers, however we are working with both to integrate their systems with RAMCO. RAMCO supports multiple ways to transmit membership data to MLSs.

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Q. Will there be a member-only log in?
A.
Yes, RAMCO features a secure member login to the web portal.

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Q. Will there be a Find a REALTOR® function that will not for members only?
A.
Yes. There is an option that will allow the general public to search a member directory.

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Q. Do you have a working demo site so that I can view all the functions and features to compare to our current system?
A.
We currently have a “sandbox” that can be made available to prospective customers but not a publicly-accessible test site where anyone can explore RAMCO, although we are looking into that for the future.  Contact us for more information.

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Q. Do I need the “web portal” to have RAMCO available to our members through our website?
A.
Yes. If you want a website where members can pay dues, update their profile information, register for events and more, you would need the web portal. The web portal is a set of basic pages that allow members to interact with the RAMCO system. For a richer description of the web portal, and our optional Sitefinity offering, visit our website options page.

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Q. Does RAMCO offer any features for distribution and tracking of e-mail communication?
A.
RAMCO has powerful marketing capabilities. For example, it includes email tools for building campaigns, messages, merging in fields like name, address, etc and then delivering those messages to members. It works by sending messages through your existing email server so they always come from you just like an email message from your own Outlook, Thunderbird, etc. However, RAMCO does not track open rates, bounce rates, click-throughs and other email marketing metrics.

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Q. What if I want to track bounce rates and undeliverable e-mails?
A.
You will need a full-featured email marketing tool to track deliverability tracking, open rate tracking, bounce rates, automatic undeliverable handling and more. We strongly suggest you look at NAR’s Convio software. It’s free to all Realtor® associations and has all the features you would need. Additionally, Convio maintains good relationships with the major ISPs like Verizon, Comcast, AOL, etc as well as the email providers like Google, Yahoo and Hotmail. Those relationships are very helpful for getting your messages through to a member’s inbox. You could never really replicate that benefit yourself. I can point you in the right direction within NAR if you are interested.

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Q. Can I send all-member “blast” e-mails, such as an association newsletter, through RAMCO?
A.
We don’t recommend it. You probably already know this, but as a “best practice” you should never send mass emails from the same email server you use for your personal or business emails between you and members. When you do, there’s a danger that a recipient could flag your email as spam. For example, If enough recipients at AOL mark your messages as spam you may find your entire email server blocked by AOL. Then you would not be able to send *any* emails to AOL recipients. The same could happen at Yahoo, Google, etc. It is best to separate those messages so that your daily business email comes from your own email server (or the RAMCO software) and yoru marketing/mass emails come from a different server such as Convio or a commercial third party provider Constant Contact. Then, if a member marks your message from Convio as spam it will not endanger messages sent from your office email server.

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RAMCO Billing, Sign-up and Administration


Q. We are a very small association and have never had a membership management program so we input directly to NRDS . Does the NRDS-only Implementation Package give us access to the full RAMCO program?

A. Yes, you will have access to all features and functions of RAMCO except for the member-access web portal.  Our intent was to keep the pricing for this basic package as low as possible so we made the $2,650 web portal interface optional.   To add it, simply select that option with the appropriate checkbox on your application.

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Q. My CEO said there is a discount plan if a large number of local associations sign up in a state. Is that true?
A.
Of course, CEO’s are always right!  Statewide and regional MLS discounted implementation packages are available based on the number of local associations submitting applications and fees at the same time through their respective state association or regional MLS. Here’s the discounted fee schedule:
1-9 Local Associations – None. However, if 100% of the locals participate, a 2.5% discount will be offered
10-19 Local Associations – 2.5%
20 – 34 Local Associations – 5%
35 Local Associations or more – 7.5%

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Q. What’s the billing frequency for user fees?
A.
User fees are billed in advance monthly for the upcoming month of service.

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Q. We want to sign up. What’s the next step?
A.
The first step is to complete the Implementation Application available for downloading from the RAMCO site (http://www.ramcoams.com/?page_id=453). Implementation is first-come, first-served based on when we receive your non-refundable deposit of 25% of your total implementation fee.  The application form will calculate that amount for you. If you wish to purchase Sitefinity, those fees are not included in the deposit and are billed directly by Cobalt.

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Q.What software and what versions will I need to have on my local PCs and laptops? What browsers can my members use to access RAMCO from my website?
A.
Please visit our system requirements page for the latest information: http://www.ramcoams.com/?page_id=108

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