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Must-haves vs. Nice-to-haves

When developing an RFP on behalf of my clients, one of the items we'll discuss is "nice-to-haves" vs. "must-haves" on the list. That is, identifying which functionality the system must absolutely provide, or otherwise it cannot be considered.

This activity can actually be more difficult than it sounds. For example, working with a client recently, one of the functional requirements we identified was the ability for companies to be able to do group registrations. That is, one person from a company could go online and register multiple individuals from that company for an event. As we discussed whether or not this was a "must-have" functionality, we determined that, in reality, group registrations account for only about 10% of total registrations. That is, they're the exception, and not the rule. So while this functionality would be nice-to-have, it wasn't must-have.

On the other hand, allowing individuals to come online and register themselves for a meeting (functionality the client did not currently have) was a "must-have." We wouldn't consider any system that couldn't do this out-of-the-box.

As noted above, a simple guide to keep in mind is whether or not the functionality represents the rule, or the exception to the rule. Sure it would be nice to have "invitation only" event registration so that our board members can register for board meetings online wihtout staff intervention. But since these board meetings only happen once per year, and there are only 12 board members, is this a "must-have" or a "nice-to-have"?

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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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