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It’s more like buying a Soloflex, rather than a car…
23 November 2009, by , in Data Management, No comments

When I help clients through the process of purchasing a new association management system, the metaphor that often arises is that of buying a car. The client will say something like: “It’s like we’re buying a new car, and we want to be sure we’re buying the right car. We don’t necessarily need a Maserati…”

It’s a nice metaphor but I think it’s not quite accurate. Buying a new database is actually a lot more like buying a Soloflex (yes, I’m a child of 80s television) or some other exercise machine. You see, when most of us buy a car, we start driving it right away. Some of us will read the users manual, but most of us just jump in and drive. And the car usually gives us the results we expect: getting us from point A to point B.

But buying and using a database is similar to buying new exercise machinery. We know our objective: To get in shape, to look better, to feel better. But simply buying the exercise equipment and installing it in our home does not get us those results. We have to work for those results. And achieving those results takes time.

This is why buying a database is more like buying a Soloflex, rather than a car. When you buy a data management system, you’ve only purchased the workout equipment. You still have to work at achieving your goals (e.g., cleaner data, more targeted marketing, improved customer service). And achieving these results will take time. And just as we must continue to exercise to maintain the way we look and feel, we must continue to actively manage our database to ensure it continues to deliver on its objectives.

So, yeah, I can help you buy your next car. But I think what you’re really looking for is a nice, shiny Soloflex.

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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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