PHP Programming Helps the Chamber Streamline Processing

An interesting PHP programming project that I recently completed was for the Marlborough Regional Chamber of Commerce. The business goals were to:

  1. Consolidate the steps required to upload membership information to the website
  2. Provide mechanisms for Chamber staff to be able to
    • Upload the membership information themselves (without technical intervention)
    • Do the upload on demand, whenever they wanted

The Importance of the Membership Upload

The Membership Upload not only updates the list of members, but also populates the table that holds the list of members’ discounts and another table that stores valid business codes. Information uploaded during the process is used to display the Business Code selections on the Find a Member page, the search results on the Find a Member page, and the list of members participating in the EMB (member discount) program. So, if the program were to fail, there would be unsightly voids and misbehaving functions on the website.

Starting Membership Upload Process

Previously, the process took two people, one Chamber staff person and the web (technology) person, and four steps, and, would take about 1/2 day to complete due to schedules. Due to the human intervention required, it was run/done only once per month.

The Chamber staff person would extract member information from the in-house chamber management software into a tab-delimited text file, then email the file to the web person.

When the web person received the file in email, the file was download to the desktop and tested for being ‘text-only’ and ‘tab-delimited’. If it did not pass those two tests, an email was sent to the Chamber contact and a new extract file was created and sent to the web person, and the test was run again.

membership upload text file

Once the correct file format was determined, the file was manually edited in order to eliminate quotes and other extraneous text. The file was then uploaded to the Chamber’s website via FTP along with a specially-written upload PHP program. The upload program was run. Then the web person would test for success by using the Find a Member program on the Chamber’s website. When all was working as desired, the specially written PHP program was deleted from the directory, and the Chamber was notified of the successful update.

New Membership Upload Process

The new Membership Upload process requires one person, a Chamber staff member, and 1-2-3 easy steps. The staff person clicks a button (a saved macro) in the chamber management software that extracts the information into a tab-delimited text file and saves it on their desktop. The person logs into WordPress and clicks the Upload Member Info button on the Dashboard. The progress of the upload displays to them on the screen, and they can print the screen for their future reference. Done. The PHP membership upload program manages all the manipulation and editing that was previously completed manually .

After completing the project, all of the Chamber’s business goals have been met, and Chamber personnel can upload membership information multiple times per day or not, as they choose.


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