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My fifth favorite tip…

This is the last in a series of tips from my book, Put Your Data to Work: 52 Tips and Techniques for Effectively Managing Your Database. I’ve been asked by several people which of the tips are my favorites. So this series of blog posts focuses on five of them. Each of these tips is reproduced verbatim from the book.

Tip # 7 – Pursue success, not perfection

I first heard this phrase from consulting guru Alan Weiss. As humans we can never be perfect, so what is the point of pursuing perfection? We should be pursuing success, in our lives, and with our databases. Databases are designed, developed, and used by humans. By their very

nature, they will not be perfect. And the longer you demand perfection from your database systems, the longer you will feel dissatisfied with your data management systems.

Pursuing success means understanding that your data will never be 100% accurate. It means acknowledging that errors will be made. And it means setting realistic expectations for which processes can be automated and which will always require some manual effort.

For example, you’ll never have 100 percent accurate contact information for your members. But what is “successful”? Do your members move a lot, or not very often? If your primary members are college students, they move a lot, and having 60 percent accurate physical addresses may be considered good. On the other hand, if your members are higher educational institutions, which rarely move, perhaps 95 percent accuracy is a better target. Your organization’s membership and culture will help determine what is successful.

But ultimately it means accepting that being successful means you’re better than you were the day before, and you’re continuing to seek improvement in all that you do.

You can buy the book here (or here if you’re an ASAE member) in e-book or printed version.

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1 Comment on "My fifth favorite tip…"

Sarah Willis - 18 December 2013 Reply

Thank you for sharing, really insightful tip and one I strive for everyday! You may also be interested in this article I came across recently on Wall Street and Tech that focuses on commitment for effective data management http://www.wallstreetandtech.com/data-management/effective-enterprise-data-management-req/240163751

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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
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“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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