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All choices involve trade-offs
1 February 2013, by , in Executive, No comments

The economist and political writer Thomas Sowell once wrote: “There are no solutions, only trade-offs.” What Sowell means, of course, is that every decision we make in life involves a trade-off. Choosing to ride the bus, for example, involves giving up some freedom of choosing your own route as the driver. In exchange, the bus ride may be cheaper or more convenient or faster than driving. So we make the trade-off.

I’ve written about trade-offs in the past (click here to read) and I’m writing about it again because it came up recently with one of my clients. I’m working with them to select a new association management system, and there has been a lot of discussion about the value of staying with their incumbent vendor (upgrading) vs. going with a new system. The discussion revolves around the trade-offs. The list looks something like this:

  • we know the incumbent better than the other vendor we’re considering
  • the new vendor has better/fancier technology
  • sticking with the incumbent will keep the learning curve lower
  • there is no data conversion consideration for the incumbent
  • and so on.

So what’s the client’s best choice? Well, as Sowell says, there are no solutions, only trade-offs. So the client will have to consider all these trade-offs and make decision based on what is most important to them as well as how much risk they’re willing to take on (e.g., there is inherently higher risk moving to a new vendor from the current vendor).

So whether you’re choosing a new AMS, or deciding whether to take the bus or drive, don’t beat yourself up because you can’t find the “perfect” solution. As Sowell writes, it doesn’t exist.

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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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