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“Our old system used to…”

In my experience, when associations make a database system change, staff will sometimes talk about how the old system used to work. They’ll say things like “In the old system, we could add a new individual record in two minutes; now it takes five.” Or “In the old system it was really easy to pull a list of committee members, just by selecting a checkbox; now it takes ten steps.” Or other words to that effect.

Whether these statements are true or false, it’s critically important to address these comments as soon as they are raised. I suggest one or more of the following responses:

  1. Can we look at the process together to see if there are ways of making it simpler?
  2. Did you know that by doing it that way in the old system, we were creating a lot of other problems?
  3. Are you aware of all the other benefits this new system is bringing us?

and my favorite: “Weren’t you the one who was always complaining about our old system?” (This may or may not apply, so use judiciously!)

Like remembering only the good qualities of an old girlfriend, nostalgia for the old system can alter the perception of a new system. That’s why, among other things, I recommend you have a good database PR campaign in place to continually emphasize the positives of the new system. Don’t get stuck dreaming about the good old days that probably weren’t that good…

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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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