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.net vs. PHP and Technology Architecture

There was a thread on the ASAE technology listserver a few weeks back about whether an association should choose an AMS based on .net or PHP or something else. There was some interesting responses, but one of the best was from Bob Nedbal, Director of IT and Web Services, at the American Educational Research Association.

Bob wrote, in part: "If you want to provide a great deal of self-service, commerce and personalized information to users of the website, write descriptive examples of what you would like members and partners to be able to do and prioritize them. Use this as part of your vendor evaluation, identifying what they do "out of the box" vs. what needs to be built."

This is great advice. Too often when associations evaluate AMS systems, they don't give enough consideration to what the member or customer experience will be like. And even if they are thinking about it, they haven't articluated it clearly enough to be able to communicate their needs to the AMS vendor. As Bob suggests, writing up scenarios and walking through them with the vendor will go a long way to communicating what is needed, and might help you avoid choosing a solution that isn't a good fit.

And as for .net vs PHP and the rest. Well, in a sense, it doesn't matter. Does the tool deliver what you and your customers need? Is it easy to use? Is it scalable and upgradeable? These are the important questions. Obviously technology does matter. But too often we get caught up in the technology and forget that it's simply a tool.

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  • Great point Wes! You and your readers may be interested in two posts on my blog that touch on this subject.

    Enjoy!

    AMS RFPs & Selection What Associations Should Be Doing? : http://joe-grant.typepad.com/joe_grants_blog/2007/06/selecting-ams-s.html

    ————-

    Responding to RFPs What AMS Vendors Should Be Doing! : http://joe-grant.typepad.com/joe_grants_blog/2007/06/an_ams_vendors_.html

  • Wes–great post!

    I think much of what you have to say here (“Too often when associations evaluate AMS systems, they don’t give enough consideration to what the member or customer experience will be like. And even if they are thinking about it, they haven’t articulated it clearly enough to be able to communicate their needs to the AMS vendor.”) is actually applicable to any contracting effort. Unspoken expectations and scopes of work that are either a) not fully thought out or b) not fully communicated are the bane of far too many association/vendor relationships.

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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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