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I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating…

Working in a homegrown system is malpractice. (Click here to read why.)

I continue to marvel at the number of associations I encounter that are still using homegrown software (or worse yet, Excel spreadsheets) to manage all of their association’s data. There is a large number of association management software systems now available (see here for a list, and even my list isn’t complete). Several of these products are available for less than $10,000 annually. Regardless of the size of your association, you should be able to afford $10,000 annually to manage all of your association data in one system. If not, you may have greater issues!

If you’re still stuck with a homegrown system, take advantage of my remote consulting (click here) and let me help you find a system that can manage your data more effectively and more efficiently.

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4 Comments on "I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating…"

Barbara W - 29 August 2011 Reply

Wes, you make some comprises going with an off the shelf AMS. We use filemaker pro, Regonline for events, Constant Contact for e-mail and Scholar One for speaker abstractions. We found that going with best of breed solutions work well for us coupled with it being cost-effective. When we perused out of the box AMS systems none of them were capable of handling speaker abstractions without integrating with a 3rd party. Not to mention, the e-mail marketing solutions they offer were not up to par with a Constant Contact.

Wes Trochlil - 29 August 2011 Reply

Fair enough, Barb. But surely you're making compromises, as well. I notice that three of your four solutions are off-the-shelf software. I've written before (see here: http://effectivedatabase.com/why-your-association-should-NOT-develop-software) on why associations shouldn't develop their own software. I stand by those thoughts.

Tom Slykhouse - 30 August 2011 Reply

Hi Wes, I definitely agree with your perspective. As a developer who has had to live with maintaining a custom system, the easy solution on the front end becomes a long term burden and expense. The approach I am intrigued about now is using off the shelf cloud tools such as Google Apps (specifically sites, docs and apps script) to put together customized workflows to automate some of the back and forth between planners and the other organizations involved in large scale events.

    Wes Trochlil - 30 August 2011 Reply

    Thanks for the comment, Tom. I would agree that taking the approach of an OTS AMS as your core and leveraging third-party tools for other things (like workflows) makes a lot of sense.

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Testimonials

“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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