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Don’t forget about the people
14 April 2015, by , in Executive, No comments

In my speeches, my writing, and my work with clients, I often talk about the three key elements of people, process, and technology. All three are key to a successful project or a successful organization.

But we can’t forget how critical “people” are in that equation.

A couple years ago I worked with a client who was having some significant challenges with their AMS. The executive director was fairly new and he had inherited a new AMS selected and implemented just before he arrived. So the software was relatively new to the association (less than two years) and they were still having lots of problems with it.

When we discussed what wasn’t working, I knew the AMS they were using could do what they needed, so that immediately implied either a process issue or a personnel issue (or both). After working with them for just a few days, we quickly determined it was both a process issue AND a personnel issue.

As I learned through the process, the AMS that had been recently selected and implemented was NOT the AMS the IT director preferred. As a result, he spent a lot of his time complaining about all the things that weren’t working in the new AMS, and was actively disdainful of and disrespectful to the AMS provider. As it happened, there was another person on staff (outside the IT department) who had very strong database skills and was also a very pleasant person to work with. I advised my client to move this person into the project management role and minimize the IT director’s role with the AMS.

The client took my advice and things made a sharp turn in the right direction. The IT director left the association shortly thereafter. My client reports that two years later things are still working well.

So while we may have a tendency to focus on the technology and even the processes related to managing our systems, it’s always important to keep in mind that “people” are an equally important part of the equation. Don’t overlook that.

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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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