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$15K of research for a $30K project
24 August 2011, by , in Executive, No comments

An association recently contacted me to help them review some proposals they’ve received from some AMS vendors. The association is looking to replace their existing homegrown system with an off-the-shelf system (a wise choice). They’ve spent countless hours going through demos, reviewing proposals, making matrices of vendor comparisons, and narrowing down their decision.

As I reviewed the paperwork, somewhere within all the information I discovered that their budget for the AMS is $30,000. Considering all the staff time they’ve already spent on this project, I’d guess that they’ve spent at least half that much in indirect costs for all the research they’ve done. In other words, they’ve likely spent $15,000 in salary and benefits to make a $30,000 decision.

Does that sound like a good use of their time?

I’m glad they contacted me and I’m certain I’ll be able to help them make a wise decision, for a relatively low cost. But I always wince when I hear from associations who have spent untold hours doing research on a very large and very diverse and dispersed market (association management software). I’m glad they finally find me, but I wish there was some way they could find me prior to spending all that time doing research that they could access quickly and easily through me.

The next time you have a project that will require lots of expertise in an area where no staff has that expertise, consider outside help. When you calculate the time required by staff to get up-to-speed, it’s likely a consultant can help you for a much lower total cost.

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“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

“We came to Wes because we were very frustrated with our existing AMS and we wanted to improve our capabilities as soon as practicable. Wes very quickly helped us through a process of identifying our needs, identifying potential vendors, and selecting a new system that we’ll be able to move into very quickly. I especially appreciated Wes’s candor about our processes as well as the systems we were looking at. He was a great resource to have in a period of high anxiety for our organization. I would highly recommend Wes for any similar project.”

Jack Chiasson, CMP Executive Director
National Association of Life Brokerage Agencies

“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

Mary Pat Paris
International Registration Plan

“This is the second database implementation we’ve done since I have been at Western Arts Alliance (WAA). The first I did on my own. This time we engaged Wes Trochlil as our database planning consultant. Let me tell you, this process is a whole lot easier having Wes on your team! For a small association like WAA, it’s tempting for board and EDs to question the justification and expense of a database planning consultant. But it’s the small associations that need Effective Database Management the most. Wes strengthened our planning process, clarified our needs requirements, helped us steer around solutions that couldn’t meet our objectives, and saved us money in the long haul.”

Tim Wilson, Executive Director
Western Arts Alliance

Tim Wilson
Western Arts Alliance
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