One of the biggest challenges associations face during a transition from one AMS to another is data conversion. Deciding what data to convert and getting it into the right format for the conversion can be a very tedious and fraught process. But there is one way to make data conversion really easy: Don’t convert any data.

I know, I know, it sounds radical. But I’ve had several clients over the years make exactly this decision. How can they do it? Here’s an example from one of my clients:

First, they acknowledged that the data they had was very suspect, because of the system they were using. While they knew the names of their members and when they had last paid, all other data was questionable, at best. So rather than trying to figure out which data was right and which data was wrong or missing, they simply agreed collectively that starting fresh was the easiest and safest way to proceed. So they converted their members (roughly 700 organizations) and contacts at those members (roughly 1,400 names) and the membership associated with the member records. And everything else was left in spreadsheets that they can access, if needed.

Of course, not every association will have this option. I once worked with an association that had to convert 50 years worth of certification data, because they still had active members who had certification information from that long ago!

My experience is that most associations try to convert more data than they really need to. If you want to make data conversion really easy, don’t convert any data!