Over the years of working with hundreds of clients, I’ve discovered that one of the biggest challenges associations have with data is self-inflicted: overly-complex business rules.

For example, one group I worked with had the following business rule: If five people from the same organization attended the same event, the fifth person could attend for free (“Buy four, the fifth is free!”). In addition, this applied no matter when the five people registered. So that meant that the association would have to keep track of all registrants and when a fifth person from the same company registered, that person would be free. Of course, what happened more often than not was the fifth person registered and PAID, and would thus have to be refunded their money.

The business rule was creating more work for the association, and I might argue, probably not adding much value for the customers. Sure, “buy four, get one free” sounds good as a sales technique, but only if you’re doing it all at once. Spreading it out over multiple sales diluted its value and created more work for staff.

So if you’re struggling with managing your data effectively, be sure to consider your business rules. You may be creating more work than you realize!