What are subaccounts?
For many years it has been possible to create a client account at the ElectionsOnline website, then create an unlimited number of subaccounts underneath it. This forms what is known as a one-to-many relationship between a parent account, and the one or more child subaccounts associated with it.
Why use subaccounts?
There are two reasons to create subaccounts.
- Any account in a family of accounts enjoys a discount.
- For consultants who use ElectionsOnline to provide election administration services to their clients, it can be very convenient to just login to a single master account, then take advantage of the account impersonation feature of ElectionsOnline’s service to administer subaccount elections without having to login to each of those accounts separately.
Why not to use subaccounts?
Until now, there has been a catch to doing this. Any account determined to be stale is purged from the system automatically. Stale is defined as any account more than three months old and that either has no elections associated with it, or has elections that have gone unpaid for more than three months. That means if an account were created as a parent account, and had no direct election activity on it, that parent account would be deleted, leaving any child accounts orphaned. Assuming these child accounts had paid elections associated with them, they would be unaffected, but the parent to child relationship would be broken, which defeats the whole point of using grouped accounts.
The change in subaccounts setup
Parent accounts are no longer purged from the system. Any account—as long as it’s recognized by the system as being a parent account by virtue of having one or more child accounts associated with it—will not be purged from the system, even if there are no elections directly associated with that parent.
Who this benefits
This doesn’t necessarily benefit everyone. For example, for national organizations with smaller regional chapters, it might make sense to create a parent account that is used by the national organization, then use child accounts to administer the regional chapter elections. (Actually, it probably makes more sense to merge the national and chapter elections into a single election using either voter groups and/or special interest groups to determine which positions to display to different voter demographics, but for the purposes of this article, we’re allowing that some business rule precludes consolidating the elections.) In this situation, because there is election activity being performed through the parent account, that parent account would never go stale, and it would never be purged from the system. In this situation, there is nothing to be gained from this new product development as subaccounts will work as they always have in this case.
However, for organizations offering business services to associations, where one of those services is election administration, there is no longer a need to conduct an election under a parent account in order to ensure it never gets purged. For example, using the old approach, a business service provider might offer election administration for 10 clients. One of those clients would need to be chosen to serve as the parent account, while the other nine are the children. Even though such a parent to child relationship may not actually exist between the 10 organizations in real life, it would still have been necessary to establish the accounts as such to prevent that parent account from being purged due to a lack of election activity.
However, with this new approach, all 10 accounts may be set up in a manner that matches the mental model of how the business service provider thinks of them. In other words, one parent account, likely with the name of the election consultant on it, and 10 subaccounts, each with its own corresponding organizational name.
How to create subaccounts
To create a subaccount:
- Login to the account you wish to use as a parent account.
- Once logged in, click the My Info tab on the welcome screen.
- Click the Manage subaccounts link.
- Click Create new subaccount.
The Manage subaccounts page is also where you go to:
- delete a subaccount (assuming there is no paid election associated with that subaccount)
- impersonate a subaccount
Account impersonation is one of the more elegant, time-saving features of the ElectionsOnline software. While logged in to a parent account, you may impersonate any of its associated subaccounts. This allows you to quickly and easily bounce around from one account to another without having to logout then log back in using the username and password for each subaccount.
Retrofitting this model to existing accounts
If you have multiple accounts that could benefit from this model, please contact ElectionsOnline to inquire about having them reconfigured.
Whether you’re a business service provider offering election services, or if this just makes sense for your situation, it may be time rethink taking advantage of subaccounts. This new product development could save you both time and money.