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Establishing Priorities
26 February 2008, by , in Data Management, 2 comments

When converting to a new data management system, you are faced with many decisions regarding priorities. There is so much going on at once that you'll have to decide where you'll focus your time first and what can be held for later. (I call these issues "phase two  issues" because they can wait for phase two, which is simply defined as that which is not phase one.)

So here is a short checklist to help you determine what should be high priority vs. what can be held until phase two.

  1. Does the process or data involve money, particularly money coming in (e.g., membership dues, events registration)? If yes, this is a high priority issue.
  2. Does the process or data involve data that directly affects our membership and their livelihood (e.g., certification information)? If yes, this is a high priority issue.
  3. If the process in not in place at go-live, can we develop a workaround that will address the need temporarily? If yes, then this is not a high priority issue.
  4. Is this process a new process we've never done before? If so, and it doesn't involve money or members' livelihood (#1 and #2) then this is not a high priority issue.

Keep in mind that you can probably achieve more than you think you can in the first phase. But also be aware that if you try to do too much at once, you may wind up executing poorly on all priorities.

What else would you add to the checklist above?

About author:
  • Wes,

    I think you’ve hit on a very important area of implementation planning. Being able to objectively categorize items in this manner is critical in achieving timeline and budgetary objectives. We have found that great enthusiasm is often the result of project kick-offs and related meetings and when people start working with our software they find all sorts of great new ideas. But to your points, some of the great new ideas are best left to a future phase.

    A couple of additional ways to identify a potentially high priority item:

    1) Does it create an order of magnitude improvement in process efficiency (e.g. can you find a way to increase volume several fold without doing the same with staff hours devoted to that process)

    2) Does the item impact the financial integration between the AMS and the GL system of choice?

    3) Does the item impact the member-facing experience on the web?

    These are a few additional methods of identifying areas that may be of high priority depending on the organizations objectives. Thanks for raising this important topic.

    Amith Nagarajan

    Aptify Corporation

    http://www.aptify.com

  • Hey Amith, thanks for the post. I like your points, but especially point #1. If it’s an order of magnitude efficiency improvement, it definitely should take priority.

    wes

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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

Mary Pat Paris
International Registration Plan

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Western Arts Alliance

Tim Wilson
Western Arts Alliance
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