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Focus on Outcomes, not Inputs
8 February 2011, by , in Data Management, IT, No comments

When I work with my clients on selecting a new association management system, one of the first steps we take is to review what data the organization needs to manage. When I have these discussions with association staff, the tendency is for staff to focus on HOW data is processed (input), as opposed to WHAT we want to accomplish with the data once it is collected (outcome).

For example, when discussing event registration processing, staff will tell me about all the forms that have to be completed, all the business rules that are associated with event registration, and who on staff gets involved in the process. While this answers the question of how the data is managed, it doesn’t answer the question of what our intended outcome is. For most event registration processes, the outcomes typically include registrants contact info (for name badge and attendees list, confirmation email, updates, etc.) and payment information. HOW we get to that information is important, but WHAT we need from the process is key.

Too often we are too married to the way we do things and thus we focus on the HOW rather than the WHAT. When we focus on outcomes rather than inputs, it allows us to consider alternatives to the current business practices.

So whether it’s selecting new software or just revamping existing business processes, consider output and work back from there.

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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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