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Don’t let IT drive your business decisions

Let me start by saying I love the guys (and women) in IT. I really do. They are important to our success, and I can tell you many, many stories about how, as my father would put it, they “pulled my bacon out of the fire.” (Here’s just one of those stories.)

But too often, I see decisions about how the association is run (i.e., business decisions) being left to the IT staff, because the work involves a “technology solution.” Let me give you a recent example:

A past client of mine called me recently to update me on how things were going with their new database. She is the director of meetings, so her key interest in a new database was the ability to allow her members to register for events online.

Here it was, more than a year since they had gone live, and she tells me they still don’t have online meeting registration. I know the product they chose offers such functionality, so I asked her why it still wasn’t up. Her reply: “The IT staff didn’t like the online tool, so they said they’re going to build one themselves.”

“Have you or your staff seen the original online registration product yourself?” I asked.

“No,” she replied. “They made that decision without talking to us.”

This is exactly the kind of behavior I’m talking about. The online registration tool isn’t there to make the IT staff’s life easier; it’s there to make the customer’s life easier (and by the transitive property, the meeting registration staff’s life easier). For the IT staff to make that decision in a vacuum is really malpractice.

Is that happening in your organization? Are business decisions around technology being delegated to your IT staff because the senior management doesn’t want to get involved, or view it simply as a “technology” issue?

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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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