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Check your metrics
14 August 2008, by , in Data Management, No comments

When I work with my clients on the implementation of a new database, there is a tendency to focus on everything that is not working. That’s human nature, of course. We want to fix it if it is broken.

Unfortunately, all of this focus on the “broken” tends to lead people to believe that the new system doesn’t work at all, or is a failure, or is “worse than the system we had.”

Which is why you should have metrics for any project you embark upon. That is, you should have some way to measure if you’ve achieved the objectives you’ve set out for yourself.

For example, I worked with a small association recently on the implementation of a new, centralized AMS. Their previous system was a homegrown access database that was not connected to their website and did not have strong accounts receivable functionality. They implemented a new system which gave them some serious headaches throughout the process. But when the system was finally live, they had a completely integrated database with strong a/r features and tight integration with their website. The result was that in just a few short months, the vast majority of their members were joining and renewing online, something that had never happened before.

Two of their metrics for success were centralizing their data and integrating the database to their website. They succeeded on those. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t fun, but it was successful. But had they not had those metrics, they might have assumed, based on their other troubles, that the project was a failure.

So do you have metrics in place for your system? Can you tell if you’re being successful or not?

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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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