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Data conversion made easy

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!

About author:
  • Love the idea Wes. Actually I was a little disappointed when I got to the point where you said they did move over their current member data.

    Of course I know they had to do that, but I was looking for something truly revolutionary, where I don’t know, maybe they only moved over member emails, and rebuilt from there over the membership year!

    Cheers,
    Kevin Jackson

  • Wes Trochlil

    Ha! That would be QUITE revolutionary to move ONLY membership email and nothing else. What happens when the email bounces!?!

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Testimonials

“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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